The Lewis-Cowlitz County line and the Ukraine-Poland border may be over 5,000 miles apart, but folks who live near both are currently united in a common goal: helping Ukrainian refugees.
Three Lewis County Rotary clubs — the Centralia, Chehalis and Twin Cities clubs — and four from Cowlitz County — the Woodland, Kelso, Longview and Longview Early Edition clubs — have recently held meetings over Zoom with Rotarians in Zamosc, Poland, about 30 miles from the Ukraine border.
The Longview Daily News reported the clubs collaborated to send around $20,000 to their Polish counterparts within the last few weeks to aid in their efforts to give Ukrainian refugees medical supplies, transportation, food and other services.
On Monday at noon Pacific Time, 9 p.m. in Poland, The Chronicle joined a Zoom call between the eight clubs, where the Polish club, Rotary Club Zamosc Ordynacki, spoke through a translator about their work.
An editor of the German-Austrian Rotary magazine was also on the call, and told the Washington clubs: “What I can say is I’m here for four days now and it’s impressive what the clubs here do, especially this one here. So if you can support the clubs here, it would be the best you can do. Definitely.”
Zamosc Ordynacki’s club representative, Włodzimierz Bentkowski (nicknamed Wlodek), spoke through the translator as another Rotarian showed photos of the club’s humanitarian efforts.
Pictures showed Rotarians in refugee centers handing out food and toys, loading boxes of supplies and helping refugees load up into buses.
“One has to say that we in Poland are safe and it’s only because NATO supplies security to our country. We are very grateful,” Wlodek said, later adding: “People are nevertheless very scared and tourist trips that were planned to come to Poland, many of them have been canceled because of the war. People are basically scared that it might escalate beyond Ukraine border. But generally we do feel safe.”
Anil Puri, of Centralia, who heads the district encompassing the seven area clubs in Lewis and Cowlitz counties, said the district intends to continue raising money for the Polish club. He also mentioned their need for medical equipment and asked that The Chronicle include the need “to inspire medical professionals in our community.”
Previously, the area clubs were able to send bandages and other equipment to the Polish club members. Sending money is easier, as they can avoid paying import taxes. However, there are some supplies that simply can’t be bought in Poland right now.
Anyone can donate to the Rotary disaster relief fund online at https://my.rotary.org/en/disaster-response-fund.