Help for Ukraine – A Call to Action from the Baltimore Sister Cities Program

GUEST AUTHOR: Karina Mandell, Chair – Baltimore Odesa Committee

Dear Community Members,

I believe I speak for all of us that few imagined the situation in Ukraine would lead to such a tragedy and millions of people displaced from an independent country they call home.

It may not be common knowledge that Baltimore and Odesa have been sister cities since 1974. I took up the helm recently and 6 months ago flew to meet the Mayor of Odesa in person where we talked about starting dozens of projects. Now Odesa prepares for invasion, and I talk to the Vice Mayor every single day.

I would like to note the three major topics we are working on and the needs in each of these efforts where you may feel you are best fit:

Aid into Ukraine (citizens and/or military)

    1. Speaking to the Mayor of Odesa’s office every day to access their needs – we have an itemized list of things they have asked for
    2. World Central Kitchen made it directly to their city to provide food by rail and many pounds of food
    3. Several businesses or individuals making personal donations and holding fundraisers
    4. We are coordinating with several partners to discuss the logistics of shipping aid to Poland and Ukraine by land/air

Direct Red Cross Account link for city of Odesa

Aid to refugees fleeing Ukraine:

    1. Several International NGOs are focused on these efforts
    2. We are coordinating flight routes and aid items to Europe with Baltimore businesses

International Rescue Committee

United Help Ukraine

Aid to refugees bound for the US upon Biden’s announcement to raise the refugee cap from 15,000 to 62,500

    1. Speaking with Senators and Delegates at the State level to discuss not only direct aid to Ukraine but securing resettlement funds for future refugees once they arrive
    2. Speaking with Catalina Rodriguez from MIMA (Baltimore Mayor’s Office of Migration Affairs)

While I have listed a few avenues for personal donations… As of today, no city, county, or state funds that I am aware of have gone to help Ukraine. We have lit up our town halls and taken down Russian Vodka while other sister cities have stepped up to help Odesa, I am asking for us to do the same.

  • Marseille, France gave 5 ambulances and 1 firetruck
  • Tallinn, Estonia sent $50,000 USD
  • Klaipeda, Lithuania gave $150,000 Euro and is preparing for sending $500,000 Euro
  • Constanta (Romania) received more than 20 families (women with children)
  • In addition to aid from Poland, Germany, Romania, Austria who are all helping

We need help making connections to Legislators at the City, County, and State levels that can create a coalition to request aid be sent to Odesa, our sister city of 48 years. In addition to any volunteer efforts you may be willing to lend.

I have also emailed the Baltimore Chamber of Commerce, EAGB, BBB, Downtown Partnership, etc, Asking for a call to reach Ukrainian affiliated businesses and promote them (whether candle makers, photographers, bakers, business owners) so we can list their items and promote them in our local economies, no doubt some of those funds will be sent back to family and friends in Ukraine.

Planning future events coming up:

  • Enoch Pratt event for preschool children to make Pysanky eggs –
  • A walk to Baltimore City Hall War Memorial Plaza
  • Fundraisers in June and July
  • Ukrainian Independence Day – August 24th, 2022 – Let’s make it the biggest one ever! We’re looking for sponsors

This unfortunate situation has mobilized all of us. I am offering resources, myself and my committee to this cause, but also asking for any resources that you might be able to lend from your networks. Please feel free to reach out to me, thank you for your time in these tenuous times.

Listen in to learn more on Baltimore City Councilman Eric Costello’s Downtown Download March 22 at 9 am. Register Now.


Karina Mandell

Chair – Baltimore Odesa Committee
Baltimore Sister Cities

GUEST AUTHOR: Karina Mandell, Chair – Baltimore Odesa Committee