The Davidsonian

Davidson For Ukraine Raises Awareness, Supports Refugees Organization Formed In Response to Ukraine Crisis

Sofia Cimballa ’26 (she/her)

Ways to get involved with Davidson 4 Ukraine. Inforgraphic by Bailey Maierson ‘25

There are currently four households of Ukrainian refugees in the Town of Davidson. After Russia invaded, refugees had to flee and some found a new home in Davidson. The community of the Town of Davidson responded to meet the unique needs of these individuals, and aid in their transition; at the center of this effort is a community group called Davidson for Ukraine (D4U).  

D4U “didn’t start out as an organization at all,” according to Dr. Amanda Ewington. 

Ewington is an expert on Russia, and the head of the Davidson College Russian Studies Department. Motria Procyk is a Ukranian-American resident of Davidson. At first, Ewington and co-founder Procyk were  focused on responding to needs as they arose. 

Procyk explained that, “The mission of Davidson for Ukraine (D4U) has evolved. It was initially focused on awareness building and fundraising for relief efforts in Ukraine. The group began in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24.”

On March 6, D4U organized a rally on the Davidson Green, which was attended by over 300 people. The primary goal was raising awareness. The event’s featured speakers included Ewington. 

“I felt compelled, given my field, to stand up there,” she said. “I always feel like my presence is not just about educating because I’m not an expert on Ukraine, right? And that’s always something I feel a little wary about. I don’t mean to speak for Ukraine and somehow perpetuate the idea that they’re sort of the same.” 

With her specialized experience and knowledge in such a small town, Ewington said she finds it a case of “if not me, who?” 

She stressed the importance of pairing awareness and education with impact: “But I always made a point of ending with, and here are some ways you can support Ukraine, even with how you talk about Ukraine.” 

Awareness was coupled with action at the Davidson Green event. “We later distributed 350 ‘We Support Ukraine’ yard signs, and asked individuals who took the signs to make a gift to a charity that supports Ukraine. In April, we held an auction that raised $30,000 for an organization called Razom for relief efforts in Ukraine” explained Procyk.  

Their capacity for impact expanded in the months following the full-scale invasion. 

Ewington explained the community-oriented process of D4U: “Motria and I are kind of like the two people. People in town who were sponsoring someone would know her and would go to her, and then people who were new to town would Google the College, and they would find me.”

 “As refugees began to arrive in Davidson, our mission expanded. We began to provide help to refugees and their hosts by connecting them with organizations and individuals in our area who wanted to help—folks who wanted to help donate clothes, food, furniture and later, help find jobs, provide transportation, housing, and other services,” said Procyk.

“In Davidson, refugees include a widow from Donetsk, a family of five (a couple and three young children) from Kharkiv, a mother with two children from Odesa and a mother, son and grandmother from Kyiv. All have varying needs. Some speak some English, others are just beginning to learn the language. The hosts appreciate help guiding the refugees toward living independent lives in the US. All have families in Ukraine: husbands, fathers, others. Our companionship and support helps them during this traumatic time.” Motria explained. 

At first, their work “was all very kind of ad hoc,” according to Ewington. 

The D4U Facebook page is an avenue for connecting to other members of the Davidson community interested in helping.  “This is a way to just let people know that we’re gathering, this is a way to say we’re doing a school supply drive for these kids, or this is a way to say if you possibly want to donate clothing or grocery gift cards, here’s how to do it,” said Ewington.

D4U is continuing to grow. Davidson College Presbyterian Church is now helping collect donations for relief efforts, Fifth Third Bank is sponsoring a Christmas Tree for D4U, E2D has donated computers, and Davidson students are tutoring refugee children at Davidson K-8. 

The passion behind D4U has strengthened community in the Town of Davidson as well as facilitated important connections between global events and local organizing. A recent addition to D4U programming has been gatherings during the Davidson Farmer’s Market. Procyk explained that these meetings “have been a great way for the refugee families to meet each other AND meet new American friends…These are fun, social gatherings…we don’t typically talk about specific needs… It’s really lifted everyone’s spirits to know each other and it’s engendered great ideas about ways to help individuals.” 

Procyk emphasized that the organization is open to ideas from students, businesses, and members of the Davidson community. “Any way to help our new neighbors feel acclimated, supported and have their spirits lifted.”  

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.