Missoula couple chosen for refugee mission in Poland
When JD Partain woke up a few weeks ago and checked his emails, the last thing he expected to see was a reply from Tom Beam, the lead coordinator of Send helpa non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Alpharetta, Georgia, informing him that he had been selected — out of some 500 applicants — to go to Poland as part of a refugee assistance team.
After seeing the carnage and misery created by Putin and Russian forces in Ukraine, and the resulting refugee crisis affecting large swathes of Europe, Partain began to reach out to various NGOs, in the hope to find one to help him make an impact. Just sending the emails was “strangely therapeutic,” he said.
Not their first rodeo
The Partains are no strangers to volunteering. In 2010, JD, along with his wife Lana, traveled to Haiti following the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated the island. As rescues dwindled in this disaster, Lana Partain’s skills as a registered pediatric nurse came in handy. But when JD told his wife that he had volunteered to go to Poland and had been selected, she was a bit skeptical at first. “I spoke to my wife about it, she was not very happy at first. She said to me: ‘Are you crazy?’ said JD. But after talking to her mother, she was convinced to follow through and lend her skills to the effort. But that of course doubled their costs.
Early Friday evening, Partain still hoped to raise enough funds to cover their airfare, which is the responsibility of the volunteers, as well as lost wages. Lana is a full-time employee at St. Pat’s, but JD can only work part-time in the mornings because most of her time and energy is spent running the nonprofit that he created. the Missoula Boxing Club. However, upon arriving home and opening two couriers, Partain was pleased to find that they now cost exactly $325 over their $6,700 budget.
But with a clear desire to help with the disaster that has unfolded in Eastern Europe, the Partains want to keep the donations flowing in and have the biggest impact possible. For this reason, a GoFundMe account has been opened and can be found here at: Partain’s in Poland: Relief Fundorganized by JD Partain.
“Flexibility is key”
Although they have a small idea, one thing is perfectly clear to the Partain team: don’t ask what you will be doing when you are there. During a Zoom call with coordinators on the ground in Poland, Partain was told: “Please don’t ask us what you will be doing here, things are so fluid that they change on a daily basis. Everything what we tell you now will probably be incorrect when you arrive.
And in an email response from Tom Beam, senior teams coordinator, Partain was told: “Because of the war, things often change. We had many more volunteers than we are able to send. You can leave thinking you’re going to help prepare the meals, but don’t even go into the kitchen while you’re there. He added that “one of the greatest needs right now is monetary donations to provide food, medical supplies, hygiene items and other essential supplies. We get most of these items from Europe, so financial support is what we need. 100% of what you donate will go to this effort.”
The couple’s daily activities will also be uploaded to a new temporary Facebook page, Partners in Polandso that people who choose to donate to the relief effort on the ground can literally see for themselves the impact they are having, and be assured that it is through the local people who helps people who know how to use it.
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