Montreal’s Westmount Rotary Clubs raise money to help Ukraine

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WATCH: Montreal's Westmount Rotary clubs raises money to help Ukraine – Mar 19, 2022

It’s from a small office in the basement of Manoir Westmount on Sherbrooke Street, where Susan Buscemi is spending part of her time these days trying to raise money for Ukraine.

“It’s particularly heart-rending to see what’s happening there,” she told Global News.

Buscemi is president of the board of governors of the Rotary Club of Westmount and they, along with Rotary Clubs around Ukraine, are trying to help.

“We were contacted by a Rotary Club in Romania,” she said. “They sent out an urgent plea for funds to help the refugees that were streaming across the border.”

Since then, the Westmount club managed to raise more than $12,000 to buy relief supplies for people displaced by the conflict.

Read more: Quebec man heads to Ukraine border to help refugees flee the war

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“They need accommodation, they need mattresses, blankets, covers, they need medical care, they need legal advice, translations services,” explained Buscemi.

The club, she added, needs to raise more money. The urgency of the situation becomes even more apparent to her when speaking to Rotarian volunteers in Ukraine.

One of those volunteers is George Zvirid, a former president of the Chernivtsi Rotary Club, who described what it is like for them to deliver aid under fire.

“In the cities under attack, it’s quite dangerous,” he pointed out from his home in Chernivtsi, which is in southwest Ukraine and is where he’s helping to coordinate relief efforts for Rotary Clubs across Ukraine.

According to Zvirid, volunteers from a Rotary Club were killed a few days ago in Kharkiv as they tried to reach people taking shelter from bombs.

“They were hit by pieces of artillery when they tried to deliver food to people who were staying in a basement,” Zvirid explained.

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He’s thankful that Chernivtsi is safe for now and said people from other cities under attack are converging there.

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“We’re not attacked yet but every day we hear air defense alarms and it’s quite stressful,” he noted.

Across the country, food and medicine are the biggest needs, all things Buscemi said the money raised by her club will help to buy. Her club and Ye Old Orchard Pub and Grill on de la Montagne Street in downtown Montreal are hosting a fundraiser on March 27.

“It’s something we couldn’t pass up on,” said general manager Kyle Chabot, “and so I talked to my staff, if they were willing to do it, and everybody was gung ho.”

The event features musicians, including the WhiteDawg Project duo, Gary White and Pete Dawg. White helped to spearhead the idea and he invited a third musician, Mike Uzan, to participate as well.

“It’s small, it’s a drop in the bucket,” White said, “but, you know, lots and lots of little drops in the bucket fill the bucket up eventually.”

The event, called Afternoon at The Pub for Ukraine, is free but attendees are asked to donate if they can.

Buscemi said the public can also donate directly to the Rotary Club directly and get a tax receipt.

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