Additional family of Ukrainian refugees arrives in Muscatine

Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert works as the Editor of Discover Muscatine Newspaper.

Muscatine Living

MUSCATINE, Iowa–Oct. 4, Muscatine received an additional family of Ukrainian refugees. As war between Russia and Ukraine continues, the Muscatine Action Committee for Ukraine assisted Mariia Lavrys, her daughter-in-law Zhanna Slyviak, and her two grandchildren Yeva Chernetska and Artem Slyviak in safely coming to Muscatine.

After Sergei Sviderski, a friend of Muscatine Action Committee for Ukraine member Walter Conlon, escaped the Kyiv region with assistance from the Luka family, the first Ukrainian refugees to come to Muscatine, he and his family settled in Liviv. Several of Conlon’s cousins live nearby, as well as his longtime acquaintance Roman Beizyk, a business owner in the food processing and convenience store industries. Beizyk has long served as the contact for the Muscatine Sister Cities partnership with Drohobych, Ukraine and has visited Muscatine twice. Conlon introduced Sviderski to Beizyk, and the two have started working to help Ukrainian refugees relocate.

Recently, Slyviak, Beizyk’s niece, indicated she wanted to travel to the United States with her family to get them out of harm’s way. Sviderski and Beizyk put them in touch with the Muscatine Action Committee for Ukraine to help them complete all the paperwork and steps necessary to enter the United States as refugees.

On Oct. 4, Lavrys, Slyviak, and the two children arrived in the United States via O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois. Muscatine resident Steve Hueser met them there and drove them to Muscatine, where they will stay with him and his wife, Deb. Serhii Luka made the trip to Chicago as well, welcoming the new Ukrainian Refugees and using what he has learned over the past month to help them adapt.

Mariia Lavrys, Zhanna Slyviak,Yeva Chernetska, and Artem Slyviak arriving at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois before coming to Muscatine. Photo courtesy Steve Hueser.

Now in Muscatine, Slyviak hopes to find work somewhat similar to her career in Ukraine, where she taught music. Lavrys may continue working as an early childhood assistant. Yeva, a fifth grader, looks forward to competing in sports, such as swimming and wrestling, and to art and music classes. Artem, who will start kindergarten, most enjoys doing art projects.

As the newest group of Ukrainian refugees starts to adjust to life in Muscatine, the Muscatine Action Committee for Ukraine welcomes anyone who would like to help mentor them and the Lukas to reach out to Conlon via email or by calling him at 563-676-6307. Mentors can help the Ukrainian families get acquainted with the many different resources Muscatine has to offer and also give them companionship in their new city.

The Muscatine Action Committee for Ukraine continues to work to bring more families to Muscatine and intends to bring in their next group of Ukrainian refugees at the end of the month. To that end, they also welcome anyone willing to host a family until they can find housing of their own to reach out to Conlon as well.

With many Ukrainians continuing to flee the war, Conlon feels glad that the Muscatine Action Committee for Ukraine can offer real help to families in a difficult situation. “I feel like when people are in jeopardy . . . our job is to help out.”

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