Santa Barbara United Women for Ukraine Host Garden Fundraiser

By Bonnie Carroll

The Garden of the University Club in Santa Barbara was the site where United Women For Ukraine sponsored a heartwarming program and fundraiser to unite in solidarity with Ukraine. It began with the Ukrainian national anthem and was followed by an introduction of renowned pianist Miroslava Kisilevitch, DMA, and her husband who shared their story of leaving the Ukraine to find a new life in America and the sadness they experienced leaving family behind. Mira shared the story of her life growing up in a lovely area of Ukraine, the difficulty for her parents to protect her from communist suppression and seeking a way to come to America to work as a musician and have a free life. 

Roman Lutchyn, who immigrated from Kiev to Santa Barbara twelve years ago, shared his personal story on leaving the country he loves and coming to America. His personal view of the history of Ukraine through the years and a summary of the invasion on February 24 resulting in tragedy was concise and clear. He shared the grave losses his people and family experienced. “I hope to help in whatever way I can to stop the suffering and destruction still happening and stop Russian aggression.”

Dean Axelrod of Direct Relief shared the history on the creation of Direct Relief by an Estonian immigrant William Zimden in 1948 following WWII. Zimden was a Santa Barbara resident and in 1951 when Zimden died. Dezso Karczag, a Hungarian immigrant, and business associate took over. Today the organization provides medicine, equipment and more to over 100 countries including the Ukraine at no charge. Direct Relief is a privately funded organization. 

Geoff Green, CEO SBCC Foundation, led a fast-moving live auction, and paintings by Ukrainian artist Kateryna Bilokur were on display for a silent auction as well. A unique display of historic Ukrainian costumes and jewelry brought from Ukraine by Mira Kisilevitch were on display; she also has over 100 costumes she brought from Ukraine she hopes to display for a possible future fundraiser.

Santa Barbara students Charlie & Hannah selling their water bottles to help.


Kudos to all the charitable supporters and the Ambassadors for United Women of Ukraine who included Megan Birney, Cindy Feinberg, Solene Guillemane, Candy Hedrick, Charlie & Hannah, Hedrick, Carolyn Jabs, Cynthia Jensen, Marjorie Larkin, Monica Lenches, Holly Mckenna, Laura Miller, Ale Ortega, Catherine Remak, Claudia Rucke, Debra Schwartz, Jessica Solomon, Mary Jean Vignone, Judy Weisbart. Sponsors included Mira Kisilevitch, Karen Chackel, First American Title Co., Bob Ruccione & Debbie Merlo, Coast & Valley Properties, Cindy Feinberg, Hope Ranch Magazine, Sonos, Nasif, Hicks, Harris & Co., Jennifer Duffy Gillon, Jena Brody, Trader Joes, Claudia Hoag McGarry, and Paint Jam. 

Santa Barbara teens Charlie and Hannah were at the event chatting with guests while selling their bottles to raise funds for Ukraine. Guests enjoyed Ukrainian finger foods, including homemade cookies with berries.  The program ended with a performance by renowned pianist Miroslava Kisilevitch in the University Club. Donations to aid Ukraine can be made to Direct Relief at

Bonnie Carroll

Written by Bonnie Carroll

Writer, publisher, editor over 30 years, Bonnie Carroll is the present Publisher, Editor-in-Chief of Bonnie Carroll's Life Bites News founded 2005. She is also a contributor to a bevy of magazine and newspapers California and international since 1983.

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