TULSA, Okla. — Two Green Country families are connected by war but also by kindness.
Viktoriya Goldrich lives in Jenks now, but she is originally from Ukraine. Goldrich said her family found themselves caught in the middle of the war as Russia invaded Ukraine in February.
"I kept asking myself how does this happen. in 2022 and how does the world allow it to happen," Goldrich said.
Her family sought refuge in Warsaw, Poland while a stranger from Green Country spent time helping a group called Global Volunteers in the same country.
"I look down at my phone and I saw a message from a lady I never met before and it was a picture of Pam [Ballard] standing next to my cousin Elaina in Poland," Goldrich said.
After volunteer Pam Ballard returned to the U.S., while at lunch, Goldrich asked her for a favor while on her next trip overseas — to bring two invaluable items back to Oklahoma.
"My family heirlooms that were my father's when you go back," Goldrich said. "They are with my cousin. I never thought I’d see them again."
Goldrich's father passed away from cancer two years ago. She couldn't go to his funeral, because COVID-19 had closed the borders.
After her family fled Ukraine, she said their house was burglarized. All that's left is her father's cross necklace and ring that her cousins took with them while fleeing.
The heirlooms traveled by foot from Ukraine to Warsaw with the family, then from Warsaw to Chicago with Ballard by plane, and from Chicago to Oklahoma by car.
"When I slept one night in the hotel, I took it off my neck but it was right beside me on my pillow and that was the only time," Ballard said. "Otherwise, when I was driving in my car, it was around my neck."
The necklace and ring are now in Goldrich's possession, signifying closure.
"When I saw them I knew, that it did happen, that cancer did take him from me and it hit me so hard," Goldrich said.
"But I was also so thankful. Because the moment I put these items around my neck, I felt his presence. I felt his energy. I knew this was on him every single day."
Ballard said Goldrich's family is safe, though not exactly living in luxury as the conflict goes on in Ukraine.
"There’s not an answer to all the 'Whys?" about death and the unkindness, but we are all testimonies about difficult things that have happened to us, and we're still here," Ballard said. "We're alive and we don’t always have to have the answers to that."
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