We are pleased to announce Tyler Wimmer and Keller Atwood as the recipients of our June 2022 Goodness Grant.
Like many people over the past several months, Tyler and Keller were very concerned for the safety of Ukrainian citizens in the Russian and Ukrainian conflict. They wanted to help, but felt unsure about which organizations they could trust.
On Sunday, March 20th, Tyler and Keller were made aware of a group of four men who were going to Ukraine to help by transporting Ukrainians across the border into Moldova. On Monday, Tyler and Keller bought plane tickets to Ukraine, and by Thursday they were headed across the world to deliver aid.
Their group was known as “the six dudes” because that’s exactly what they were. They didn’t come with an organization—they came as six friends, most of whom spoke some Russian, ready to help where they could. They made contacts in the area who helped them to know where they could rent cars, get supplies, and help Ukrainian citizens.
For the week and a half they were there, Tyler, Keller, and their companions took their rented vans and SUVs and worked from 7 am to 10 pm delivering supplies to Ukrainians and transporting them into safe zones. Their day typically began in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, where they stocked up on supplies. They then drove to Palanca, a Moldovan city that borders Ukraine, where they would hand out supplies and pick up Ukrainians to transport them to Chisinau. On their last day, the small group went into the Ukrainian city of Odessa to bring supplies to an orphanage on lockdown there.
Tyler and Keller were touched by the strength and resilience of the Ukrainian men, women, and children they met. They were also inspired by those giving aid—Moldovans, volunteers, and humanitarians from various organizations. Tyler walked away knowing “there are a lot of good people in this world”.
At one point, Tyler and Keller noticed a young family outside of a restaurant. The father was pacing and the mother looked concerned. The weight of their situation was visible. Tyler went to speak with the father and found that, like many of those who were fleeing, the man had no idea where they would go or how they would get there. Tyler reached into his pocket and held out $50 for the man, who shook his hand and pulled him into a tight hug. Even the smallest of offerings were greatly appreciated.
In reflecting on the experience, Keller found a particular theme rang true, “If you want to do something, you can”. No matter the circumstance, you can find a way to help.
We also want to send a special thank you to Brian Grow, Sean Slobodan, Mitch Angle, and James McCoy for their involvement and organization of this project. If you would like to donate to the cause of helping Ukrainian citizens, we invite you to consider Unicef’s efforts. To view Tyler’s photos of the trip, click here.