Aurora’s Jim Gamache reflects on his time helping in Ukraine

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Earlier this year, Aurora’s Jim Gamache spent four weeks aiding communities throughout Ukraine.

He was determined to help after an impactful meeting during a solo hiking trip back in September 2022.

“I made the decision to go to Ukraine after I met a mother and her five-year-old son at the Ukraine-Poland border,” said Gamache. “After speaking with her and hearing her story about how she just saw her husband for the first time in five months, she said ‘I know you’re an American, and I want to thank you and your country for your incredible support.’ On the bus ride back to Krakow, I said I’m going to return to Ukraine, I’m going to help.”

Gamache lived in Ukraine from May 3 to May 31. He spent most of his time in Lviv, but he also traveled to Rivne, Bucha, and Kyiv, the country’s capital.

Gamache’s time volunteering for Ukraine

While in Lviv, Gamache volunteered at the Front Line Kitchen, an organization that specializes in the preparation of dehydrated-ready meals for soldiers on the front line.

The group consisted of people from around the world looking to do their part in Ukraine.

“The very first full day I was there, I met four people sitting in a bar outside, heard English and I went up to them,” said Gamache. “I found one person was from Northern Ireland, another man, Germany, another man Canada, a young lady from the United States. They included me immediately, and I actually joined them the next day at the kitchen chopping vegetables.”

But he got a closer look at the impact of the war while volunteering with an organization in Kyiv called Brave to Rebuild, which restores Ukrainian cities and villages.

It was during this time Gamache said he experienced the “most profound” day of his life.

“We walked down a dirt road about three-quarters of a mile, and we came upon an area where 80 Ukrainian soldiers had died in a fierce firefight,” said Gamache. “It still had the scars of war and looked like a living hell. There were memorials, but it was still very raw. That’s a day I will never forget.”

Currently, both organizations are accepting donations on their websites.

“Ukraine is a democracy, they’re freedom-loving people, and they’re fighting for their freedom, and I think the best thing we can do is support them in several different ways,” said Jim Gamache. “By being able to physically go and help, I felt that I was doing my part.”

Presentation at Stonebridge

Last week, over 75 people attended Gamache’s presentation at Stonebridge Country Club about his time in Ukraine.

“The reaction was overwhelming,” said Gamache. “One of the things that my mother shared with me many years ago is that when you give, many times you receive much more back from others from what you’ve given.”

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