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Ukrainian couple arrives in Park City to big community welcome

Ukrainian couple Zhenya and Olena Kreider and Park City resident Allison Dittmer
Ukrainian couple Zhenya and Olena Kreider and Park City host Allison Dittmer

A Park City family is sponsoring a Ukrainian couple who fled their country through a government program called "Uniting For Ukraine."

The news coming out of Ukraine continues to reflect devastation, with millions of refugees fleeing the conflict and finding safety in different corners of the world. One of those corners is Park City.

“We are very happy that we are safe... The USA is a very beautiful country with very, very kind people.”
Olena Kreider, Ukrainian refugee

Allison Dittmer and her family, who live in Park City, applied to sponsor Ukrainian refugees through the Biden administration’s "Uniting For Ukraine" program. They originally met Zhenya and Olena Kreider, who lived in Dnipro, a city in southeastern Ukraine, through a friend on Facebook.

Dittmer said the process was extensive and they had to provide background and financial information.

“When you're sponsoring someone, you have to guarantee that you will care for them, meaning give them room and board or assure that they have it for the two years that they're here,” she said. “That doesn't mean that you are paying for everything for them for two years but it means that you're making sure they're not homeless.”

According to Dittmer, it took the couple five days to travel to Park City, with a harrowing three-day train ride to cross the border into Hungary.

Olena said they were allowed to take three suitcases and a crate for their dog, Sam.

“We are very happy that we are safe,” Olena said. “And we are very grateful to Ellison, Jason, Jesse and Casey for agreeing to help us. The USA is a very beautiful country with very, very kind people.”

FULL INTERVIEW: Ukrainian refugees, local host discuss process and how community can help

Dittmer described the couple as very resilient; however, they had a post-traumatic response when routine resort avalanche control went off this week. It underscores that what they fled was terrifying.

“We are live in Ukraine and city Dnipro as this big city and this city are not safe right now. Because not electrical, not heating. And lots of people need help," Olena said.

Dittmer said the couple has degrees in finance and electrical engineering.

“But they are just excited to do anything truly like they, you know, will take any job and are really excited to just experience the United States and all of the opportunity that there is here," Dittmer said.

She added that the support from the community has been overwhelming, with strangers knocking on her door bringing bags of clothing. Now they just need a place to call their own as they want to start a new life here.

"They're looking and we are looking, too, for them to have their own spot,” Dittmer said. “They're a young married couple trying to start their life and it would be great if they had a little one-bedroom place that's hard to come by here in Park City but we're on the search. So please, if you know of anything, reach out.”

For more information on how to help, contact Allison Dittmer at Alditty@gmail.com or (310) 849-4502.

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