KIRKLAND, Wash. - As tens of thousands of people flee Ukraine, some Americans are rushing in to help.
One of those volunteers is a nurse and the founder of Vital Solutions in Kirkland. He just got back from the Romanian border with Ukraine, where he's been helping refugees pouring in to escape Russia's attacks.
At one point, he said 20,000 people were coming across the border in a single day.
Ben Sterciuc just flew back to the Seattle area Sunday afternoon. He said the need to help the refugees is great.
"It felt like this is the time to step up and do work," said Sterciuc. "The deepest wounds are really emotional, the sadness that you see on the face of the kids."
He said he's still feeling energized about his efforts to help the people that are fleeing the death and destruction of the war.
Sterciuc spent more than two weeks on the border alongside other volunteers with Vital Solutions.
"My first evening on the border of Romania-Ukraine… frankly, I was in shock," he said.
His team provided medical treatment, food, water, tea, medicine and other supplies like blankets and hand warmers to many who'd been waiting in line for days to cross into the country. He said many were suffering from anxiety and hypothermia.
"Mothers with children that had been in line for two days and two nights, just incredible shock and incredible deep sadness," he said.
Sterciuc was born in Romania in a village close to the border, and left due to communism in 1989. He was a refugee, himself, for a time before immigrating to the United States. He said many helped him along the way, and he wanted to return the kindness to others.
"I am compelled to go back and do the same for the Ukrainian refugees," said Sterciuc.
Part of his mission during his time there was to use his connections in his former hometown in Romania to rent homes and apartments for volunteers, who will make their way overseas to help the weary and wounded.
"We treated a grandpa and a grandson that had wound in their legs. They were randomly hit by a stray bullet," he said.
His team is also helping to purchase bus, train and plane tickets that will take people to other cities or countries where they can get help. He said more volunteers will be needed in the weeks ahead.
"If there is a crisis, and there is an instinct to go… go, because you can make a difference," said Sterciuc.
Sterciuc said he'll be coordinating teams of volunteers to head over the Romanian border over the coming weeks and months. He said people from all walks of life are needed, including medical professionals, plumbers and electricians, teachers and child care workers or caregivers. He said you can find out more information on how to donate or volunteer by heading to the Vital Solutions website.
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