Renate Lechnowsky, along with her family and volunteers, prepares a community benefit dinner serving traditional Ukrainian cuisine on April 10, 5-8 p.m., at First Baptist Church Ukiah’s McCray Hall on Smith and Oak Streets in Ukiah. There is no fixed cost to attend the dinner. All donations will go to relief efforts in Ukraine.
A short story: Renate’s father, Bohdan Lechnowsky, is a first-generation Ukrainian-American and owner of Respectech.
Bohdan’s father, Fedio, was born and raised in the mountains of Lvivska Oblast in western Ukraine in the 1920s and 1930s. from the rulers of Russia and Germany at that time, Josef Stalin and Adolf Hitler, not to mention the regional Polish lords and others.
As a “displaced person” after World War II, he was finally granted permission to immigrate to the United States in 1949. Today’s Ukrainians are now familiarizing themselves with this all-too-familiar struggle of their ancestors – ruthless dictators and the refugee crises they cause.
Bohdan’s brother adopted two young boys from an orphanage in Crimea, Ukraine around the year 2000. In 2010, Bohdan’s family and his brother’s family traveled to Ukraine to show the boys where they came and visited relatives still living in the western mountains. Ukraine. They delivered backpacks, school supplies and warm winter clothes to children at the orphanage in Simferopol, Crimea.
In 2011, Bohdan and his wife, Rosemary, returned to Ukraine to plan a relief operation for villagers in the area.
Many villagers still work in the fields as they did hundreds of years ago, with only hand tools, to support themselves and their families. During this time, they communicated with the attaché of the United States Ambassador to Ukraine in Kyiv who introduced them to Pastor Igor Ivanishin in Lviv. Igor helped with the logistics of the return trip the following year. You may have seen Igor on NBC Nightly News recently where he was interviewed about his congregation’s work helping refugees.
In 2012, they returned for a three-month effort, bringing their children and seven dentists from Howard University. Dental care was sorely lacking in the area, so they opened a temporary field clinic to treat as many villagers as possible in the time they had. During this time, they forged a strong relationship with the regional hospital administrator.
The most recent trip, in 2016, focused on distributing school supplies and 12 suitcases of medical equipment to the undersupplied regional hospital. They took this opportunity to reconnect with Pastor Igor and his church congregation, the Evangelical Communion of Christ Church of Lviv, and other Ukrainian aid workers in the region.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for donations to help defray the cost of preparing dinner. All donations beyond the cost of preparing the dinner will be given to Ukrainians directly supporting refugees: https://www.gofundme.com/f/kfs4w-help-us-support ukraine