By Yanina Makoviy
Derek and Connie are a retired couple from Florida who decided to sponsor a young Ukrainian family from Kyiv. The family who was forced to leave their home because of the war in Ukraine.
They found each other on our Facebook page “Helping Ukrainian refugees in the USA”.
We asked them to share their experience on becoming a sponsor for “Uniting for Ukraine” program designed for Ukrainian refugees. As this is a new program it created a lot of questions from both sides, so we are here to learn from the experience.
Corrie, Derek, please tell us why you decided to become a sponsor.
After seeing what was happening in Ukraine we knew we needed to help in some way. As soon as President Biden announced the U4U program we searched Facebook for information. We found the Helping Ukrainian refugees in the USA page.
How did you find a family you are sponsoring?
So many people were looking for sponsors on the page. (Facebook page “Helping Ukrainian refugees in the USA”). At first it was overwhelming. We saw a young couple that needed a sponsor and hit “like” on her post. We did not comment on the post. She sent me a friend request and message. We noticed that everyone was picking people with children and nobody was saying anything on her post. So we picked them!
We are sponsoring a young couple from Kyiv. She is 34 and he is 31. His family home is near Kherson. Her family is from Kyiv. We are so excited to be able to help them!
Did you have any concerns about becoming a sponsor?
We were concerned about our financial responsibility. Most of all healthcare issues. We wanted to offer room and board plus help in adjusting and getting a job, and not lose our house and life savings! After doing a lot of research we discovered that we would not be held liable for any debt they may create.
How does the process of applying for Uniting for Ukraine program work from a sponsor prospective?
The process for applying was very easy. We checked what was needed from both sides before starting. We received all the information needed from Ukraine. We only needed to claim our income and show our taxes. We didn’t include our house, savings, car etc. We only included as much as was needed to sponsor 2 people. The first one took longer and was extended for a few hours when the site went down. The second one went super fast. When we went back in a lot of the information was saved and auto filled. We were approved for first stage in less than 2 days.
Second step came in about 6 hours.
Last step arrived 12 hours or less later.
What are your expectations once the family arrives to the USA?
Success for this couple that has been through so much! They will be able to live in our spare room with a private bath for as long as they like. We will do everything we can to help them adjust to the new area and get settled. We know that the job paperwork takes time. (But we are hoping this changes and becomes a little faster!)
We are praying that many Americans follow in our footsteps and sponsor a family from Ukraine!