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‘More than a Ukrainian flag on Facebook’: Henderson man helps refugees in Warsaw

Weeks after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine led to a refugee crisis in Eastern Europe, a Henderson man wanted to help but wasn’t satisfied with starting a GoFundMe page and raising awareness about the issue.

So David Pershica flew to Poland.

Persicha joined people from around the world who have descended on Poland, particularly the capital city of Warsaw, to volunteer in support of the refugees currently flooding into the country from Ukraine.

“I felt like there was more I could do than just putting a Ukrainian flag on my Facebook page,” Pershica said.

The dance teacher resident flew to Warsaw last month, serving food, distributing supplies and helping coordinate efforts, and ended up staying for about a week. He linked up with a local group and worked 12-hour days at a center for refugees, who were coming in “constantly,” he said.

Pershica met other volunteers from around the world, including Brazil, England and Taiwan, he said. The group of volunteers that worked together, even though they were only there for a short time, are still in touch after returning to their homes, he said.

One of those people was Delores Pasiecznik, who lives in Waterford, Penn., and was in Warsaw at the same time as Pershica. She has Ukrainian relatives and knew right away that she wanted to help in any way she could. She was in Warsaw for nine days and wished she could’ve stayed longer, she said.

Seeing children or families that were torn apart was incredibly difficult, she said.

“The thought that always crossed my mind was ‘are those children going to grow up without a father?” she said.

Pershica worked mostly in a dining area and did his best to make positive connections with the people coming through the center, even if he only got to interact with them for a short time. He’d bought lollipops to give to children and dog treats for people with pets, which earned him the nickname “lollipop man” from the other volunteers.

When he returned stateside, Pershica said the reaction from people here was first of surprise, then of admiration.

“That’s the door that I wanted opened,” he said. “Because I think that’s where a lot of people are.”

Contact Jonah Dylan at jdylan@reviewjournal.com. Follow @TheJonahDylan on Twitter.

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