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How a Pastor From Ukraine Now Helps His Native Land

March 09, 2022

Ivan Bilyk’s job is to help people. As a chaplain on the Pastoral Care team for Windham Hospital and Hartford HealthCare at Home, Bilyk has spent countless hours providing strength and comfort to patients and their families in their hour of need.

On Feb. 24, Bilyk, a Ukraine native who moved to America in 2003, found that he was now the one who needed support. As news of Russia’s invasion of his homeland was broadcast throughout the world, Bilyk could only watch helplessly as the tragedy unfolded before his eyes.

“My hometown was attacked on Feb. 24 and I felt tremendous stress,” Bilyk said.  “Ukraine is a peaceful nation. I grew up there, I went to school, learned music. It was my childhood and it touched me very deeply. I visited Ukraine last September. At the time life was normal, but that has all changed now.”

Bolstered by his faith and the support he received from his friends, family and colleagues, he decided to do whatever he could to make a difference. As the pastor at St. Mary’s Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Willimantic, Bilyk and his congregation worked with the bishop at their church’s headquarters in Philadelphia to set up a fund and began raising money for medical and other humanitarian supplies to be sent to the Ukrainian people.

When word of Bilyk’s efforts to raise funds for his homeland reached East Region President Donna Handley, she and her leadership team immediately stepped up to help.  On March 9, Handley along with East Region Vice President of Operations Matt Kaufman and Director of Operations Mike Davis, visited Bilyk at the church on Oak Street in Willimantic to deliver a check for $5,000 from the East Region Leadership Team to help support his efforts. (In the photo above, Handley, at right, presents Bilyk with the check.)

“We want you to know that you are not alone and that we stand with you,” Handley told Bilyk.  “You are helping to provide the same kind of support and resilience to the people in your homeland as you provide to our patients and the community every day and we are proud to support you.”

“I have always been proud to be a part of the Hartford HealthCare family and this is just one of the reasons why,” Bilyk told Handley, Kaufman and Davis as he fought back tears.  “I am so grateful for this, it means more than words can say.”

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