San Francisco company with hundreds of employees in Ukraine raises $210k in donations
SAN FRANCISCO - A San Francisco based company with hundreds of employees in Ukraine amid the war is sharing stories of heroism, strength, and pleas for help.
One worker describes her family trapped in a city under siege with limited food, water and no heat. Another worker fears for his pregnant wife, as he prepares to fight for freedom. And their boss simply fears for them and the future.
"Every single day I worry about our folks," Just Answer CEO Andy Kurtzig said. "It’s awful, it’s scary."
Just Answer has raised more than $210,000 in donations for food, medical aid, and other critical supplies to those in dire need.
The company is an online platform that connects people with experts for professional advice. It has had a presence in Ukraine for more than a decade and employs 250 people.
Since the Russian invasion, Kurtzig said his company has been closely communicating with workers there to understand what is happening and how to be supportive.
"They are working their tails off to protect their freedom and their country," he said. "I think it is impressive to see them all step up."
More than 90% of the Ukrainian employees are still working to take their minds off the war, according to Kurtzig.
Employee Yuriy Muzychuk is an engineer who, along with colleagues, is devoting some of his time to supporting refugees by gathering vests, helmets, medical supplies and food.
He told KTVU he’s also caring for his wife who’s pregnant and worries about her, especially if the attacks happen inside Lviv where they live.
Muzychuk said that if it’s necessary he will fight in the war to protect his freedom.
"That’s my duty so there’s no other way to put it," said Muzychuk. "I think I’ve come to peace with it."
Intense Russian shelling has killed thousands across Ukraine, but the worst may be in the city of Mariupol.
A maternity hospital as well as a theater filled with children and families were bombed.
Just Answer employee Kateryna Cherniavska grew up there and she said her family is currently barricaded in her childhood home.
"They cannot leave," she said. "They don’t have water, they don’t have electricity, gas, food, and it’s about 10 degrees below zero."
In a plea to her colleagues, she sent out an email begging for help to spread the word, send donations, and help save lives.
Kurtzig promises Just Answer will match donations and continue to advocate for the workers and their country.
"I fear for the future of Ukraine and I fear for the future of democracy," he said. "This is a big deal what’s happening there, and it affects all of us."
Brooks Jarosz is an investigative reporter for KTVU. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @BrooksKTVU