The first anniversary of Russia invading Ukraine passed on Feb. 24, 2023, with seemingly no end in sight. However, St. Louis Thompson Coburn Partner Suzanne Galvin is taking the next step in continuing to assist Ukrainians as they fight for the survival of their country.
Suzanne has joined the Board of Directors of the Ukrainian Partnership Foundation (UPF) where she will serve alongside Cliff Eason, retired President and CEO, Southwestern Bell Division of ATT and Chair of Board of Reinsurance Group of America; Scott Reed, former CFO of BB&T; Tony Vermillion, former VP of Global Security for Emerson Electric, among others.
Suzanne and her husband, John, also a partner in Thompson Coburn’s St. Louis office, have been assisting relief efforts since the invasion began.
The UPF has had a profound impact on Ukrainians as they have either stayed to help in the war effort, or been forced to flee their homeland.
Due to the overwhelming generosity of so many, Suzanne said UPF has been able to focus on three areas: (1) refugee housing and support (2) establishing 16 WeCare Centers throughout Ukraine which provide clothing, meals, psychological and emotional support, and building supplies and generators to the war-torn public and (3) provide support to refugees throughout Europe who are often isolated women and children.
Suzanne said the board’s current priorities include growing and expanding WeCare centers to additional cities in Ukraine affected by the conflict and continue the seminary teaching for students through the Ukrainian Baptist Theological Seminary (UBTS), which operates with the support of UPF by sharing the light and hope of the Gospel throughout Ukraine.
“Classes at the seminary are one of the only normal activities the students have,” Suzanne said. “Even though many times classes are held in the bomb shelter, they do continue to meet. And that’s so important and makes a statement to the rest of the world, too.”
According to UPF President Joe Privott, former President and CEO of Novus International, Inc, since February of 2022, the UPF has helped in various ways.
In a letter to supporters of UPF, Privott thanked the “tireless volunteers who are UPF. We have no office or employees, and minimal overhead. Essentially every dollar contributed to UPF goes directly to fund activities on the ground in Ukraine."
Suzanne and John gained first-hand experience twice during the war as they took an 11-day trip last spring and returned in the fall to work with refugees,and train WeCare Center teams on crisis counseling. The couple has 15 years of experience providing crisis counseling to people affected by natural and manmade disasters.
To read more about their spring journey, please visit John and Suzanne Galvin’s journey to Ukraine: ‘If we train 30 people, they can help 3,000’.
Suzanne said they do not have any immediate plans to return until things stabilize, but the couple will remain closely connected and continue efforts to help the people of the war-torn country.
In fact, the weekend of Feb. 25-26, they hosted the president of the UBTS, Slavik Pyzh, at a luncheon in his honor in St. Louis. Slavik shared how the war affects daily life, with sirens going off most days, hours at a time spent in bomb shelters, and intermittent electrical and/or internet outages. The thoughts of conscription are also not far from the hearts and minds of Ukrainians as the need for soldiers grows.
To learn more about UPF, please visit UBTS Responds to the War in Ukraine - UPF Missions. To see the full board of directors, please visit Board of Directors - UPF Missions.
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