The five members of the Stelmashcuk Family are Ukrainian refugees who have shown strength and perseverance through the unimaginable. Having fled their home in war-torn Kyiv, they are now trying to rebuild their lives here on Long Island.
Nataliia Akinina, born in Ukraine and a legal permanent US resident, urged her family in Kyiv to come to New York and escape the war in Ukraine. Reluctant to leave their homes and husbands, Juliia (age 32) and her two girls Karolina (age 5) and Kristina (age 13), along with Viktoriia (age 36) and her daughter Marharyta (age 4), began their escape. The journey included living in bomb shelters and driving more than 48 hours to cross the border into Poland. Viktoriia experienced a terrible injury during their travels that required emergency surgery, leaving her in two long leg casts and unable to move without assistance. The next challenge was to secure the necessary documentation via the Embassy for all to legally come to the United States. With the help of Sen. Charles Schumer, Rep. Tom Suozzi, and Northwell Health advocating for the family, their visas were granted, and all five refugees arrived in New York on April 8, 2022.
Viktoriia is now under the charitable care of Northwell Health, which took her from the airport by ambulance to Lenox Hill so that doctors could address her medical status. We hope that Viktoriia will be able to bend her knees again and walk without the support of a walker or need assistance from a caretaker.
They don’t know when they will see the families, homes, and friends they left behind in Kyiv or their husbands, who stayed behind to protect the country. Currently, the five family members are settling into the home of their friend Ruby, for whom Nataliia provides full-time care. Ruby and her family are helping Juliia and Viktoriia get settled into life here in New York.
As all five refugees are settling into life in Lynbrook, CMM Cares is working closely with the family to identify the best support plan to assist them. To date, we’ve covered expenses for therapeutic horseback riding at Sagamore Hill Stables in Northport. The restorative benefits of horseback riding have provided a source of joy and comfort in the wake of their dangerous journey to get here. While recreational, it’s also an outlet and source of healing and therapy.
Additionally, the girls have received over 100 hours of virtual English lessons. Through Varsity Tutors, CMM Cares has covered the expenses of the weekly face to face virtual sessions. Improving their language skills has been instrumental in adjusting to life here in the States. The customized lessons plans have helped overcome the communication barrier in both the classroom setting and the community at large. One of the biggest benefits of the sessions being held virtual is that they are recorded, allowing the girls to watch the sessions over again for continued practice.
Follow us on Facebook or check back here continued updates on the Stelmashcuk Family, our CMM Cares Support Plan and their adjustment to life here on Long Island.
If you’re interested in helping us support this family with in-kind donations, and financial support for our plans, or if you know local businesses that may be interested in participating, please contact Victoria at email@example.com.