For over four decades Athens attorney James Sillery and his wife Debbie have been involved in various civic and charitable causes in Southeastern Ohio, but this year they did something totally different and bold.
In September, they brought to Athens a 21-year-old Ukrainian refugee, Eduard Yakubyk to start a new life in Athens County.
Eduard, who could not serve in the Ukrainian military due to health issues, had escaped Mariupol during the intense fighting and after crossing two countries arrived in Hamburg, Germany.
But life was tough there and employment dismal, so Eduard decided he wanted to come to the United States.
Within a similar timeframe Jim and Debbie had decided they needed to do something to help Ukrainians, so they reached out and were matched with Eduard.
They started a new non-profit corporation New Beginnings Athens, LLC to raise some donations to help Eduard and possibly bring his mother and other Ukrainians to Athens.
Although Jim and Debbie have paid for all his living expenses, donations helped pay for Eduard to enroll in intensive English classes at Ohio University.
He has done so well at assimilating into Athens life that he will enter Hocking College next term in the Fashion Design and Merchandising Program due to the generosity of Athenians. He will live in a Hocking College residence hall.
Hear more about the commitment of Jim and Debbie and Eduard’s journey on this edition of WOUB’s Conversations from Studio B hosted by Tom Hodson.