Connect First donates $20,000 to Ukraine relief efforts

·3 min read

Connect First Credit Union is proud to have announced a $20,000 donation to the Canadian Red Cross in support of relief efforts for Ukraine.

According to Connect First CEO, Wellington Holbrook, it was a step the organization was more than happy to take and wishes to encourage others to also help out where they are able.

“We have certainly tried to do our part, we’ve contributed $20,000 to the Ukrainian relief efforts and certainly, we’re doing more to encourage people, our members, to step up wherever they can to support Ukraine,” said Holbrook. “We don’t have a formal donation campaign other than our support of the Red Cross and we’re encouraging our members to donate to them as well.”

In Strathmore, the local branch is managed by Shawndra Bodkin, who is of Ukrainian descent herself.

Though she said she has no immediate family in Ukraine, the horrors of war hit close to home for her.

“Being Ukrainian myself and having it in my blood, it’s just very emotional. I don’t have any immediate family over there right now, but just the thought of having to go to a bomb shelter and not knowing, just walking down the street if this is going to be your last day on earth, I can’t imagine that kind of a feeling,” said Bodkin. “It makes me reflect and appreciate what we have here in Canada and how lucky we are to have what we have. It’s not perfect, but it does hit close to home and I just wish we could wave a magic wand and have everything be okay.”

Displaying solidarity and celebrating Ukraine, Bodkin decided to organize a lunch for Strathmore’s branch and introduce her coworkers to Ukrainian food.

Sunflowers have also been hung around the branch and are likely to remain over the course of the year.

“I haven’t talked to (Bodkin) as of late, but I’ve heard the stories about how passionate she is about the cause. My wife is also of Ukrainian descent and it seems to be the supper hour conversation in our house every day,” added Holbrook. “The (second) largest (population of) Ukrainians in the world outside of Ukraine is right here in Canada and it’s incredible to see hundreds of thousands of people with Ukrainian descent here in Alberta who either can relate to it through their family members or who have family living there.”

Though Connect First Credit Union is not actively running any programs or specific fundraisers beyond their donation, they encourage their clients and partners to think about donating to the Red Cross in support of relief efforts for Ukraine.

“Our donation has been made (and) we know that (the Red Cross) is still actively fundraising. As you can see on TV every night, it’s a pretty terrible scenario that the Ukrainian people are dealing with,” said Holbrook. “The Red Cross is really playing a big role and trying to provide some relief wherever they can.”

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times

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