Ukrainian community in Rochester keeping family in their prayers

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Keeping up with the latest news coming out of Ukraine is just as hard as hearing from terrified family members who are stuck in the middle of the conflict.

News10NBC heard what it’s like from two Rochester area residents who are in constant contact with loved ones thousands of miles away.

Just imagine for a minute that your family is stuck in a war zone, and there’s nothing you can do but sit and wait, and just hope for the best. That’s what members of our local Ukrainian community are doing as we speak.

"Even though we were born here our father instilled our pride, and love of Ukraine," Anne Kirkpatrick said.

Kirkpatrick’s father, Michael Wowkowych, emigrated from Ukraine to Rochester back in the early 1950s.

"My father was the only one from his family. He has two sisters, and three brothers that were still in Ukraine," Kirkpatrick said. "So I know I have a lot of cousins there."

Kirkpatrick works at Monroe Community College and calls the Russian invasion of Ukraine very distressing. Thousands of miles have always kept her family separated, but she recently reached out on Facebook to a woman named Mariana, who she believes is her cousin living in her father’s hometown. She shared with us the message she sent.

"We’re praying for her, and thinking of her, and you know the other people in Ukraine you know send our love from, you know, the U.S., and she responded thank you very much. You know that we are praying too, and we are hoping that you know Mother Mary will protect us," Kirkpatrick said.

Oleg Savka, a University of Buffalo student from Rochester was born in Ukraine but moved to the U.S. when he was 4 years old. He too is in close contact with family back home.

"Yeah the family members in Ivano-Frankivsk say that it’s more or less calm at the moment, but my sister’s friends have actually been sending that they’re scared that there’s going to be a rumored attack on the airport for tonight. So a lot of people are in underground shelters," Savka said.

Like so many others, Savka wants other countries to get more involved and help out Ukraine.

"If it’s not putting troops on the ground then I think it’s blocking off the air zone. Maybe blocking off the seas so less Russian ships can make it there, and sending as much military supplies, and aid possible," Savka said.

Local humanitarian aid collections for Ukraine are being handled by both the Ukraine National Woman’s League of America, and Roc Maidan.