Local Ukrainian man urges Minnesotans to not forget refugees still in need

Outside the Ukrainian American Community Center in Northeast Minneapolis, there are a half dozen murals created to raise awareness about the crisis in Ukraine.

But they are also a visual reminder that the war is still going on and help is still needed both by refugees and Ukrainians who remain in that country.

"Minnesotans need to support the Ukrainians on the ground for the long haul," said art therapist and U.S. military veteran Howard Dotson.

Dotson has been to Ukraine three times since the Russian invasion earlier this year.

He used art therapy to help children in Eastern Europe deal with the trauma of war and worked with a local church to raise $8,000 to pay for buses to evacuate more than 100 women and children from Ukraine to nearby Poland.

"When you are on a bus, there is no bullseye on your back," said Dotson.

There are now an estimated 500 Ukrainian refugees who have resettled in Minnesota, with more arriving every day.

The Ukrainian Center has raised $750,000 for humanitarian aid that has been sent to Ukraine and is currently collecting and shipping much needed medical supplies to the country as well.

Dotson says Minnesotans can help by donating to Ukrainian non-profits like Operation White Stork and Community Self Help that remain in the war-torn region, caring for military personnel and Ukrainians who've been forced to leave their homes

"You don't have to be a soldier. You can be a humanitarian. You can write a check to the people on the ground who are helping these people recover from a genocide,"  said Dotson.

Local resettlement agencies say the biggest need right now is financial assistance to help Ukrainian refugees find more permanent housing.

If you'd like to help, agencies include Operation White Storke, Community Self Help, Refugee Family Fund, Minnesota Council of Churches, Arrive Ministries, Lutheran Social Services