Colorado couple trying to help dozens in Ukraine, including family

Published: Mar. 8, 2022 at 10:45 AM MST
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) -A Colorado couple with strong ties in Ukraine is helping people and refugees there, while communicating with their own family and friends who are caught in the middle of the war with Russia.

Ron and Katya Putnam live in Colorado Springs. Katya is from Kharkiv, Ukraine. She moved to the United States at age 22. Her mother, grandmothers, brother, aunt, uncle, cousins, and countless friends are still in Kharkiv-- a city close to the Russian border that has been the scene of many recent heartbreaking images. The below photo is just one example that a loved one sent Katya.

A Colorado Springs woman was sent this photo from a loved one in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
A Colorado Springs woman was sent this photo from a loved one in Kharkiv, Ukraine.(loved one of Katya Putnam)

“It is kind of hard to live everyday life here when you know that your family is struggling out there,” Putnam said. “I try to communicate and check on them a couple of times a day ... They are scared for their lives, they are scared for the future of their kids and grand kids. I hear a lot of fear from people.”

Katya’s brother, uncle, and cousin are not able to leave the country after Ukraine announced men between ages 18 and 60 must stay in case they’re needed to fight. “For many families, women stay because they are scared to leave their husbands and their sons,” Putnam said.

Her husband Ron Putnam is the president of Slavic Christian Ministries, a religious non-profit through which he knows dozens of people, including pastors. “These pastors who have stayed in town are going to immense risk of their own personal life and safety to drive an hour, or an hour and a half away from town just to find food because food and water is depleting quickly,” Ron Putnam said.

Slavic Christian Ministries is trying to get funds into Ukraine to aid citizens and refugees in acquiring resources, but Putnam says that has been challenging because of changes to international money transfers, specifically with global financial messenger Swift.

“The hardest part is saying I can only do so much. That’s hard because you love them, you care for them. Even people who watch the news care for them and love them, so you can just imagine for us, who have those personal relationships, how much more it really impacts us,” Ron Putnam said.

Putnam says he’s working 16 hour days, much of which is spent on phone and video calls, helping all he can from Colorado Springs. Meanwhile, the concern for his friends and colleagues is growing. “They’ll never be able to go home without seeing the ravages of war. Some of them will leave the country and never come back and they have to start over. Everything they build through their lives is gone ... We just hope and pray that they stay safe.”

Last week, Putnam was on a call with several state leaders including Colorado Governor Jared Polis, discussing plans for refugees who many come to Colorado. He says he’s prepared for his wife’s family to arrive at their home if leaving Ukraine.

Click here to donate through Slavic Christian Ministries, and click here for a list of other organizations also taking donations to help Ukraine.

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