One year after start of war, Georgia nonprofit continues providing relief for Ukranians in need
By Hannah E. Jones
More than a year ago, Russia invaded and occupied parts of Ukraine — creating a humanitarian emergency with devastating implications, including substantial injuries and casualties on both sides and Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II. To support those who need it most, one Georgia man and his team are providing direct, on-the-ground relief for Ukrainians in need.
Meet Emory Morsberger, a former Georgia House Representative and a leader in the creation of CIDs in Atlanta, Tucker, Norcross, Duluth and beyond. Last summer, Morsberger founded HelpingUkraine.us, a nonprofit raising money to provide immediate relief to Ukrainians. The nonprofit especially focuses on those living in “red zones,” areas along the war front that are most impacted by the war — ranging from Odessa to Kharkiv.
“We’re working in areas where other agencies are not really active because they’re a little more dangerous,” Morsberger said. “Two weeks ago, I stayed in a hotel that had a big missile crater in the middle of it in Mykolaiv.”
Morsberger and the team aim to crowdsource $2 million to provide direct relief. So far, the nonprofit has sent over a million dollars in medical equipment to various hospitals, with the help of the Atlanta area Rotary Club network, which has allowed the hospitals to keep their doors open. The team has also distributed many generators, which are critical for electricity and currently provide drinking water for around 500,000 people.
“The generators are critical in areas where Russia has bombed the power system and it’s not easily repaired,” Morsberger explained.
During the harsh winter, the nonprofit has also set up Hope Centers — stations for neighbors to warm up, get hot food and charge their devices. They’ve also handed out other materials to make the winter more bearable, like wood-burning stoves and blankets.
Morsberger and Chief Humanitarian Volunteer Ken Ward recently returned from a front-line trip in February. Ward visited Ukraine in 1994 and since then, has returned four times on evangelical and humanitarian missions totaling around 80 days. Ward’s connections with churches in Ukraine and Moldova — like the Odessa People’s Church — have been instrumental in getting the nonprofit’s resources to the folks who need it most.
“With HelpingUkraine, we stay right on the cutting edge of the greatest need,” Ward said. “One of the things I instilled in the team was to make sure we acknowledged every person. Whenever I met a village, it didn’t matter if there were 30, 40 or 50 people — I shook everybody’s hand if they wanted to. I looked every person in the eye and acknowledged them [and] they were the most important person in the whole wide world to me right then.”
Morsberger shared a similar sentiment. “People there are amazing,” he said. “They are unified and they are incredibly resilient. They’re putting up with a lot of stressful things, and they just keep moving forward. We were in three different cities where missiles were shot down over the city.”
Despite the nearby conflict, Morsberger wasn’t fearful for his safety. Instead, he felt confident in the importance of this work.
“I felt like I was supposed to be there,” Morsberger said. “I know that sounds strange, but I just feel like this is what I’m supposed to be doing.”
In addition to the nonprofit’s ongoing efforts, the team plans to have an increased focus on the welfare of children and securing over-the-counter medications. Those interested in supporting HelpingUkraine.us can click here to donate. Folks can also get frequent updates from the frontline via the nonprofit’s blog posts.
“[Ukrainians are] living life to just see the next day, but we want to help them get back to living to have a good life or enjoy life,” Ward said. “That’s really my goal. We’re living life [in America] as a good life, and [Ukrainians are] missing that and we can help them.”
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