Ukrainian family finds career, success in Geneseo 

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LIVINGSTON COUNTY, N.Y. — News10NBC has a heartwarming story out of Livingston County, about a Ukrainian family starting a new life after escaping the war-torn city of Donetsk.

They couldn’t do it without the help of a special couple sponsoring them. All were kind enough to welcome News10NBC crews into their home.

Vitalii Tsykilov, his wife Kateryna, and their daughter Zoya are living their dream life in a new country. But it’s been a long journey getting here.

“In Ukraine, our city Donetsk, occupied nine years. Very long time, yeah, and its not good life. It’s dangerous, very poor life,” says Vitalii.

They finally arrived in America nine months ago, under the Uniting for Ukraine visa program. And with the help of Livingston County and the town of Geneseo, they met thier host family Gary and Eileen Wheat.

The experience has been overwhelming at times.

“It was scared to move to the house, because we don’t know these people, they don’t know us. How can we live together? It was language barrier, but they’re so wonderful — how to say, connect, yeah,” says Kateryna.

For the past several years, the family has moved all over Europe, while waiting for their visa program.

Kateryna says it’s been especially difficult for little Zoya, just three years old.

“She never have experience before. To go daycare here in Avon it was her first experience, she cried a lot. Don’t understand what people say over here.” says Kateryna.

But the family was thrilled to see how quickly Zoya bonded with Elieen, of their host family.

“My heart has just melted for Zoya,” says Eileen. “She’s the sweetest thing ever. I tell you what, she just brings me so much joy, so much joy.”

The Wheats say they’ve never done anything like this before. But they heard about the need through a mutual friend, and a post on Facebook.

“We had a broken heart for the Ukrainian people from the day we heard about Russia invading them,” explains Gary.

Gary Wheat says this has been a big week for Vitalii.

After seven weeks of studying and getting up at four in the morning, he finally got his CDL license.

“I can make good money, and I can start to support my family in the United States,” Vitalii says.

The family is thankful they didn’t do it all alone.

While they’re still taking English classes, the family can’t help but notice how much has improved in the last few months.