DUNEDIN, Fla. — When Russia invaded her Ukrainian homeland, Olena Herun immediately checked on her family and friends still living there. Olena’s parents did not want to leave, but her college roommate, Katya Levchenko, and her family didn’t feel safe.
So Olena and her husband Vesko, who own Veskolini Cafe in Dunedin, brought the family to Florida and gave them a place to live.
“A lot of people know me that I’m from Ukraine. And of course, I got a lot of love, support, kindness from people who are around me here. And after they got the news that me and my husband were helping this family they didn’t want to just stay and watch. They wanted to help,” said Olena.
A nearby brewery is doing even more for the family they’ve never even met. Cueni Brewing Company will host an all-day fundraiser Saturday.
“We want to do things for other people. We do a lot of charity work and this is just one way we can really make a difference in someone's life,” said brewery owner Bren Cueni.
Money raised will help the family get a car, and all things they need to build a new life here.
“We didn’t expect so much love and support from people. We are very grateful and thankful for everyone who stands with Ukraine and who helped our family,” said Katya Levchenko.
“I want to share this love to them that this means a lot, even to me. I know this pain. I know this pain,” said Olena.
Saturday’s fundraiser at Cueni Brewing Company starts at noon. There is a raffle from 4 pm-7 pm with items donated from local merchants. Cueni Brewing Co. is donating 50% of the sales to the family.
Veskolini Cafe is hosting its own event on June 4th to raise money for all the Ukrainian children in need.