Canelo resident Jim Koweek wants to help victims of the war in Ukraine. Photo by Jo Dean

The tragic circumstances in Ukraine have left many people feeling helpless and hoping to find a way of helping the victims of this terrible war. For Jim Koweek, of Canelo, he had a specific moment when he decided to do what he can to help Ukraine.

“I was working a revegetation job and they weren’t ready for me and had torn up some of my work that I had just done,” he said. “As a contractor you just don’t like to see that. And I started getting the traditional contractor red in the face, to get a little aggravated up and suddenly it just occurred to me that I’m still going to get paid, I’m still going to do the job. The job will take eight hours instead of five or four, and nobody’s bombing me and it really was specific: ‘Yeah, but I’m not in Ukraine.’ I mean, how many people in Ukraine would trade places with me in a heartbeat? And it was like, you know what, I really think we should be doing something about this.”

Koweek is organizing a free event to help the People of Ukraine in Pioneer Hall at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds on March 11 from noon to 4 p.m. There will be a silent auction and a live auction featuring the auctioneering talents of Dean Fish. According to Koweek, hearing Dean Fish auction should be on everyone’s bucket list.

“This will be a great time for our community to get together for a common cause,” he said. “Many residents are already helping with donations and organizing.”

The Ukrainian American Society of Tucson will be providing Ukrainian food, arts, and crafts for sale. Several hillbilly bands with outstanding musicians will be playing for entertainment. The use of the Fairground’s facilities is being underwritten by an anonymous donor and all proceeds will go directly to Ukraine via United24, a global initiative charitable organization set up by Ukrainian President Zelensky. It is divided into three phases: first is ammunition, second is medical supplies, and the third is for rebuilding Ukraine. Funds will all go through a 501(c)3 account. As of December 7, 2022, more than $237 million has been raised from 110 countries.

Koweek is making a point of promoting the fundraiser as a “nonpolitical” event. “What I mean by ‘nonpolitical’ is that the event has no agenda,” he said. “It’s a serious subject, but it’s more of a gathering of friends and neighbors who want to support the Ukrainian people.”

Koweek discussed his parents and how he was raised. “My parents were big believers that this is the greatest country in the world. I really believe that, but I also believe that saying you’re great does not make you great. Doing something does, and when you look at the horrible stuff that is happening over there, to not do something to help is criminal.”

“I believe that there are a lot of people that really haven’t been able to focus on any particular thing to do right now, so let’s just dedicate this next month to doing this.”

Interested in contributing with donations or helping? Contact Jim Koweek at 520-455-5780