May 21, 2022 1 min, 48 secs

TAMPA, Florida — When Roaya and Tony Tyson saw the images in March of Ukrainian families fleeing their homeland, the couple looked around their three-bedroom home in Tampa, Florida, and knew they had to do something.  .

Spring of Life Church paired them with Masha and Vladimir Halytska and their three children, Vasilisa, 11, Lev, 7, and Danylo, 3.  .

On one hand, the American host families say there have been ample rewards.

“It’s not an easy process,” said Roaya Tyson of the experience of helping Venhlinska, Donet, and  their children settle into the United States.

That means, George said, there is considerable burden placed on individual American sponsors and families who raise their hands to host Ukrainian refugees because they lack the resources of the relief organizations that the government typically calls on to resettle refugees. .

 In the case of Venhlinska and Masha Halytska and their families, Susan Morgan, a Florida social worker, volunteered to help.

Morgan is serving as a point person for several Ukrainian families resettling in the U.S. 

Host families and sponsors also need to be mindful, Morgan said, of the trauma the Ukrainians have endured

Even the smallest of children have experienced trauma, said Morgan, who noted Venhlinska’s 3-year-old, Mark, spent his first weeks with the Tysons hiding under furniture, still fearful of Russian shelling. 

“It’s not the fault of the Ukrainians that they’ve been at times getting preferential treatment,” George said, noting they’ve received better treatment in many cases than refugees from El Salvador, Honduras and Syria

George hopes the United for Ukraine program will implement an orientation and coaching program in the coming weeks to help Ukrainian refugees and host families navigate the resettlement process more smoothly

While they feel overwhelmed at times, for now, Venhlinska and Masha Halytska say they’re happy to have found their way to the U.S.  

“We feel safe now,” Halytska said

“We want to work,” said Venhlinska, who was a chemist in Ukraine

“We don’t want to be dependent on anybody’s support, even if it’s very helpful,” said Halytska, who worked as a nutritionist in Ukraine and whose husband owned and operated his own trucking company

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