'Fur babies' help Ukrainian family find their perfect Saint John host family match

·2 min read
Nord and Ulvgard, the Guchuks' dogs, are the reason Susan Fullerton felt compelled to get in touch with them online. (Submitted by Susan Fullerton - image credit)
Nord and Ulvgard, the Guchuks' dogs, are the reason Susan Fullerton felt compelled to get in touch with them online. (Submitted by Susan Fullerton - image credit)

A Ukrainian newcomer says he's blown away by the welcome he and his family have received in Saint John since fleeing the war in their home country.

Dmitriy Gulchuk, 30, says he arrived about a month and a half ago with his wife Kate, 22, mother Tetiana, 54, and two large dogs.

"I love this city," Gulchuk said.

"People here are very friendly and very kind to us."

Submitted by Susan Fullerton
Submitted by Susan Fullerton

The Gulchuks lived in Chornomorsk, said Dmitriy, which is near Odesa and has a population of about 60,000.

His home there was about five metres from the Black Sea, he said.

Gulchuk said he was in disbelief when the Russian invasion began in February.

Once the family decided to leave, he said, they packed a bag each, loaded the car and were gone within eight hours.

Saint Johner Susan Fullerton said she read about the Gulchuks online and helped arrange their move to the Port City.

Submitted by Susan Fullerton
Submitted by Susan Fullerton

"I thought, 'Who is going to take that family with these two huge dogs?'" said Fullerton. "And being a lover of great big dogs I thought, 'Well, I'd better contact him.'"

Gulchuk and Fullerton both said the leaps of faith they took on each other have been richly rewarded.

What's been accomplished in the short time since they arrived is "beyond amazing," said Fullerton.

Gulchuk called it "a blessing from God."

Fullerton said she and her husband own some apartment buildings in Saint John, so they are providing a free, furnished place for the Gulchuks to live until they get on their feet.

Submitted by Susan Fullerton
Submitted by Susan Fullerton

Others have pitched in with everything from groceries to a guitar, she said.

Things are better than anyone could have hoped for, said Fullerton.

Government paperwork happened quickly to recognize Gulchuk's credentials. That allowed him to get a job with Atlantic Towing as a ship's officer. And, after just eight days on the job, he's already been offered a promotion.

Kate Gulchuk is working as a housekeeper for Chipman Hill Suites, the company owned by the Fullertons, where customers and co-workers have been raving about her.

Submitted by Susan Fullerton
Submitted by Susan Fullerton

Kate was a bank teller in Ukraine, said Fullerton, and is working on her English to potentially get back into that line of work in Canada.

A retired lawyer is tutoring Tetiana Gulchuk in English, she said. According to Tetiana's resume, she has several university degrees and used to own hardware stores in Ukraine.

Others from the Fullertons' network of acquaintances are supporting the Gulchuks, too.

Dmitriy's English tutor is Edward Fullerton's former high school teacher from Blacks Harbour, said Susan.

Submitted by Susan Fullerton
Submitted by Susan Fullerton

Employees of Chipman Hill have welcomed Dmitriy into their horseshoe league, she said.

Gulchuk said he just wants to live a normal life and be useful to the community.

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