Posts tagged Ukraine

“The Medora Connection” & help for Ukraine in the news

It’s not about the job, it’s about the people.”

Yarema Slonevskyy

In the last week, the story of how friendships made in Medora have led to substantial help for people caught in the war between Ukraine and Russia has spread across North Dakota.

On March 25th, KFYR-TV aired a feature story on Yarema Slonevskyy and Jason Masten, two Medora employees who have connected in an incredible way:

Yarema Slonevskyy’s Medora nametag holds hundreds of memories.

“People see it says I’m from Ukraine and they ask, ‘How did you end up in Medora?’” he explained.

Every summer since 2008, he’s been leaving his home in Ukraine and coming to Medora. He is one of more than 300 seasonal employees the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation hires each summer.

Slonevskyy quickly learned that there is something special about Medora.

It’s not about the job, it’s about the people,” he said from his home in Ukraine.

Now those people, are helping Slonevskyy as his country faces war.

“I worked with Yarema that first year,” said Jason Masten, a Florida native who spent two summers as a TRMF seasonal employee. He met his girlfriend there. He also made other lifelong friends and developed his giving nature.

“Everybody deserves help,” Masten said.

Masten is now living in Poland, where he’s collecting supplies for Slonevskyy to distribute.

“I told him what we needed, and he said, ‘I’m willing to help you out as much as possible,’” recalled Slonevskyy.

You can watch and read the full story by Jody Kerzman for KFYR-TV here.

KX News also shared Yarema’s story, detailing what sort of goods have been collected by his Medora friends:

“We loaded them with strollers, baby shoes, kids’ clothes, diapers, cans of food, formula food for different ages; huge amounts, we barely could fit it,” Slonevskyy said.

Read and watch Cameron Brewer’s story for KX News here.

How friendships made in Medora turned into crucial support for families in Ukraine

In 2007, a young man named Yarema Slonevskyy made the long trip from Ukraine to Medora, North Dakota for the first time.

Nearly every summer since, Yarema has called the North Dakota Badlands home, serving as assistant to Lyubomir Shkandriy, then the TR Medora Foundation’s Food and Beverage Manager.

“We’ve known each other since we were eight years old,” Lyubomir says. The two grew up in Ukraine. “We used to call ourselves brothers from different mothers.”

In late February of 2022, life changed dramatically for Yarema. “Bombs, tanks, missiles, tears, refugees, shock… war,” he wrote on a Facebook post on March 8th.

“Not one night has passed for Yarema without air raid sirens sounding,” says Lyubomir, who now calls Medora home year-round.

But as soon as the sirens began sounding in Yarema’s home country, something else happened: he began hearing from countless friends he made in Medora.

“Right away I started receiving messages from all over the world with warm words of support and prayers for me and my country,” Yarema said, “from people I had the privilege to meet in Medora.”

A number of those friends hail from Poland, which shares a border with Ukraine. And that group of friends quickly took action to help families caught in the conflict.

“[On March 8th] I got a full van of humanitarian goods from my Medora family,” Yarema said. The van was stuffed with batteries, warm clothes, items for children, and even a power generator that made its way to a hospital on Ukraine’s frontline. Yarema met the van at the border of Ukraine and Poland, then drove it to a central hub to be distributed to families in need across Ukraine.

And that was just the first van.

“Same spot, same reason,” Yarema wrote on Facebook on March 19th, as he picked up another vanload of essential supplies—all gathered by friends he made in Medora now living in Poland. “The support and effort are priceless.”

Among those who gathered goods and transported them to Ukraine is Jason Masten, who has also worked in Medora’s food service sector. “I would just like to thank everyone who either donated money, or contributed supplies to the transport,” he wrote on Facebook. “It means the world to those in need.”

“Always remember that it is not our abilities that show who we are. It is our choices,” Jason wrote.

Those words remind us at the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation of these words from our presidential namesake: “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The next best thing is the wrong thing. And the worst thing you can do is nothing,” TR said.

Yarema shared these words of thanks with his “Medora family” on Facebook: “You spend one summer in Medora and you have the whole world watching your back during dark times in the rest of your life.”