ORINDA, Calif. (KRON) – An Orinda woman is back from Poland, where she helped Ukrainian refugees who escaped the war. She shared details about her trip and the neighbors who helped raise money for her journey.

Sari Heyman spent two weeks in May volunteering with a multicultural center that helped distribute clothing, food, toiletries and medicine for free. It also supplied an ambulance crossing the border to a hospice in western Ukraine.

“People just like us, going about living their lives just like us from one day to the next, lost everything,” Heyman said.

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Heyman raised more than $12,000 with the help from neighbors who spread the word in the community.

“The money kept on coming in, sometimes from total strangers, because the people you see here tonight forwarded the appeal on to friends who forwarded it to friends,” Heyman said.

On Wednesday night, Heyman held a presentation sharing details from her trip to those who helped bring her there. The journey is very personal to Heyman, who is of Ukrainian descent. Her family left Ukraine two generations ago.

“Everyone in our village was killed in 1941 so my grandfather brought out all his immediate family and our other side of the family, we haven’t been able to trace them back,” she said. “I keep thinking if they hadn’t left I could have been one of those refugees who needed help.”

While back home, Heyman is still supporting relief efforts. The latest includes trying to help a cancer institute in Kyiv get a generator to prevent electricity cutting out during treatments.

Heyman spoke with KRON4’s Stephanie Lin about her experience volunteering with Centrum Wielokulturowe, and how you can support relief efforts in Ukraine.