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'A journey toward normalcy': Ukrainian Welcome Center in Nampa honors first anniversary

The Ukrainian Welcome Center in Nampa has served more than 500 people who have been displaced by the war in Ukraine.

NAMPA, Idaho — A home is a place of security, of family - and of community. 

It can also be something we take for granted.

With so many people displaced by the ongoing war in Ukraine, the Ukrainian Welcome Center in Nampa has made it their mission to help Ukrainians who were displaced from their home country and came to Idaho.

It's a mission they have been working on for one year now. 

"It's going to be a journey toward normalcy," Ukrainian Welcome Center Executive Director Tina Polishchuk said.

A journey that more than 500 Ukrainians have been on over the past year. A journey that the Ukrainian Welcome Center has been on with them. 

The welcome center honored its first anniversary on Saturday to thank the organizations and people who have helped support the Ukrainian community over the past year.

"You can imagine that coming to a new country where you don't know the language, you don't know the culture, you don't know the people - that can be really hard," Polishchuk said. "So, every single family has their own journey."

The welcome center's goal is to help families become self-sufficient within 12 months through helping them learn English, find jobs, transportation and affordable housing. 

Saturday marks an anniversary that Polishchuk said is bittersweet.

"We wish we didn't have to be here," Polishchuk said. "We're very honored and privileged to be a part of this work, and we believe that God is putting everything together for the good, to making sure that we're a part of the solution rather than part of the problem. It's difficult to watch what's happening overseas, and for us, it's something that we watch on YouTube, or it's something that we watch through the media. But for the families that we're serving - it's their reality."

Something that can be a very stark reality for the families the center helps. The Ukrainian Welcome Center's services take social and emotional needs into consideration - as well as mental wellbeing.

"Their entire lives have been uprooted, so we're very mindful of that," Polishchuk said. "When Ukrainians come here, we want this to be a place where they can start their healing journey. Where they feel like they're not a stranger when they come here. They can receive services in their own language, and their kids can play with other kids without the fear of a bomb falling."

Polishchuk said that each family they see is own their own journey, and the Ukrainian Welcome Center is very grateful for how supportive Idahoans have been.

"Today we had hundreds of people at this event. We had sponsors, we had Ukrainians, and then we had people from just all over the Treasure Valley," Polishchuk said. "So, it's really heartwarming to know that Idahoans are in this for the long haul. That they're continuing to support Ukrainians that are coming into our state, and that they're opening their hearts and they're very, very generous toward people that are coming into the United States fleeing a conflict."

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