Community comes together to pray, march and raise money for Ukraine
North Salem community members came together Sunday morning to show their support for Ukraine and to pray for an end to the war that is now entering its second month. At a morning prayer service and march for peace organized by St. James Episcopal Church, nearly 200 local families and community leaders called for peace and raised money for medical supplies for Ukrainians.
“People were very engaged and resolute,” said Susan Romanski, a member of the altar guild at St. James. “I think a lot of people were just really happy to have something to do in response to what’s going on. It’s breaking everybody’s hearts.”
Romanski noted the power of community members being together and talking with each other about what’s happening. “You could feel what this meant to people who were there.”
North Salem town supervisor Warren Lucas, deputy town supervisor Peter Kamenstein, and town council members Katherine Daniels and Martin Aronchick all attended the march, walking alongside North Salem couples, families and pets of all ages.
”We all know our government and most governments of other countries are working to support the Ukrainian government and their people with military arms, humanitarian aid and likely money to rebuild after the fighting is over but, individually, this march was a way for us to personally show our support for the Ukrainian people during their struggle to maintain their freedom and to hope and pray for peace in their country,” said Lucas.
“Everyone at the walk today empathized with the Ukrainian love of freedom, their choice of democracy over socialism and their dedication in facing overwhelming odds," Lucas added. "Even if everyone would not remember when or by whom it was said, I believe all of us take to heart the words first spoken by President Lincoln, ‘Let us have faith that right makes might.’” Lucas said, “we see their struggle and the march was a way for us to say we’re there for you.”
North Salem town council member Aronchick said, “everyone came with a common purpose to rally for Ukraine. You could feel the positive energy from the heartfelt support.”
Following the march, attendees returned to St. James Village Hall for Ukrainian tea and handmade pierogi from Chicopee, Massachusetts’ Millie's Pierogi.
Romanski said the church raised $3,000 in donations, with still more coming in even after the event. The church is working with Maria Hlushko, North Salem town clerk and a member of the North Salem Volunteer Ambulance Corps, to use the funds to purchase medical supplies for Ukrainians. Hlushko has been organizing an ongoing effort to create first aid kits for Ukrainian families and trauma kits for soldiers on the front lines.
“It was wonderful to have so much community response and support for this event,” Romanski said. “It’s really what [St. James] wants to do; we want to be at the center of community events that bring peace and love into the world.”
Correction: This article has been updated from a previous version that incorrectly stated the name of town council member Katherine Daniels. We regret the error.