A Kelowna man is heading off to Ukraine to aid in humanitarian efforts, according to his family.
Bonnie Penner, his mother, said he served six years in the Canadian Armed Forces and he’s feeling a calling to go help in the war-torn country.
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The man’s identity is being withheld for safety reasons.
“The reasons my son has told me that he needs to go is that his training has prepared him for such a time as this. He has vision and that vision is for freedom for all. These are the things motivating him,” said Bonnie Penner.
“As a mother, it was very difficult. He came home about two weeks ago to express that he wanted to go. So, I went into activism mode. The evening after grieving the potential loss of my son, I opened up a foundation.”
Penner created ‘The Bravery Foundation’, inspired by her son. A non-profit organization that supports democratic freedoms, and will be raising funds for Ukraine.
The Bravery Foundation’s first goal is to raise $15,000 dollars for body armor that Penner’s son will take with him when he travels to Ukraine.
The foundation is working closely with the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Kelowna.
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The church has also created a non-profit that is raising funds for Ukraine.
“Under the church, we’ve opened up ‘We Help Ukraine,’ a non-profit. Everyone here, our beautiful volunteers, are making cabbage rolls. We are creating on April 9, 2022, a food bazaar, an Eastern food fundraiser,” said Maria Melnyk, a Ukrainian Catholic Church member.
“We are going to be selling perogies, cabbage rolls and lots of goodies, everything we make off the bazaar, 100 per cent of it is going to Ukraine.”
One of the volunteers making the cabbage rolls has quite the connection to Ukraine.
Tamara Stokoz fled Kyiv about a week ago, she is staying with family in Kelowna.
“She’s really touched by what the Kelowna community and residents are doing here, and it’s impressed her a lot. She didn’t expect the work that’s been done, and she appreciates every person that starts any initiative here,” said Uliana Kotsur, Stokoz’s impromptu translator.
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