Media of Great Stories continue to tell how creative Ukrainians use talent for charity.
Oleksandr Hrekhov, illustrator
Doing good is like a pleasant addiction
My first client in my career, when I made an illustration for someone else rather than for myself was Sirius Homeless Animal Shelter in 2017. At that time, I only had a series of unicorn animals, so I made pictures for the shelter in the same style. Tattoos at the animals signified their hobbies or profession.
The first personal exhibition of illustrations was also a charity – they raised money for Tabletochki Foundation – and somehow since then it has happened that I dedicate 20-30% of my working time to such projects.
In recent years, I have worked together with dozens of different organizations – I like to jump from topic to topic and try something new: from animals (UAnimals) to environment protection (No Waste Ukraine), from other animals (Cat-Fair) to helping people (Come back alive), etc.
Behind every project, there are people who are trying to do something, this is what motivates and nourishes me the most.
We live in the classic parable about a frog in a jug of sour cream. It is still a long way to go before most charitable initiatives complete their mission, when they will be able to say: “There is no need for our services anymore.”
Sometimes it may seem pointless. I will not lie, and I sometimes think so. But for myself, I still chose the movement.
Yuliia Huseva, PR strategy expert
When I took the dog from the street, I overcame personal stereotypes. After that, I realized that I wanted to share this experience with the others. It all started with the Instagram account of my dog Hermes, where he dropped short tips, and later a whole book Practical advice on human studies was born. Hermes is a blogger and writer who used to live on the streets, but once decided it was time to be more serious and started a family. He now teaches cats and dogs how to live with humans.
Together with Nina Kulchevych, my colleague and friend, we turned the idea into a real educational project. Its purpose is to change people’s attitudes to situations that happen in the house with their pets, as well as to help look at the world through the eyes of four-legged animals.
The proceeds from the sale of the book will help create space in Sirius animal shelter for the animals to stay temporarily and help them find their home as soon as possible. Many caring people are working on this project and helping implement it. This is how a loving and proactive community is formed.
I would very much like more people to make good deeds a habit for themselves, to teach children to do this, to set an example for friends. There are many ways – for example, in animal shelters, you can always do some routine work. Or you can allocate your time and organize the collection of food, medicine and more.
Informational help is also extremely important and will not take you much time. If you are, say, a photographer, you can come and take good pictures of animals looking for home.
Do not think that someone else will help, take on the responsibility.
Tetiana Vlasova, PR director of Odesa International Film Festival
Case: online marathon Words to breathe on oxygen devices of SVOI Foundation
I came to learn about SVOI Foundation long time ago and it seems to me that it is one of the most powerful foundations in Ukraine, which has taken its niche – helping palliative patients. The idea for the Words to Breathe marathon came to me one late evening when I read a post by the Foundation. It struck me so emotionally that I realized that something had to be done besides money transfers, dissemination of information and reposts. I write poems myself, and I also have a project called Other Poems. I realized that I could combine what I love with helping the others. Overnight I have already thought over the concept of the project and made a list of guests, literally the next morning I wrote to the representatives of the Foundation with my idea. So, we launched a marathon that lasted about two months and 30 broadcasts.
Every night at 21:00, I went live on Facebook with a guest – these were famous Ukrainian poets, musicians, presenters, public figures, filmmakers, actors and more. It is nice that almost everyone responded, and if they refused, it was for some objective reason, and instead, they offered other help. That’s why we had broadcasts often, and at the end of the project, we went live almost every night.
For an hour, guests read poems – their favorite or their own. We talked a lot, subscribers asked their questions and donated money. After each broadcast, we calculated the amount and in total we collected about UAH 300,000 during our 30 broadcasts. And that’s only what we could trace.
I feel like I’m doing not too much and I’m sorry about that. But when everyone starts doing something for the others, it will be a little easier to live in our troubled world. We do not know what will happen to each of us tomorrow, but we can help today.
Viktoria Temnova, photographer
Case: shooting elderly people for Life Lover (Zhyttieliub)
Three years ago, I was asked to shoot for Bird in Flight, when I for the first time worked with models aged 50+. I was very worried, but in the end everything was cool, and the models just made me fall in love with them. When the pictures came out, they wrote to me from the Life Lover Foundation and told me about the idea of the charity project. They wanted to shoot elderly people, find a new meaning for them and reveal their talents. I liked the idea, I agreed, and we have been working together for three years.
At first, I did everything by myself, but when the work flow started growing, I began to invite stylists, makeup artists, assistants and more. All participants in the process work absolutely pro bono and this is great, because the whole shooting is filled with great light. It feels like a holiday.
To help, you can do something ordinary for yourself. I take photos all the time, it’s a routine for me – but something unusual for other participants. My models may never have had a professional photo shoot, never changed how they look, or never seen themselves from the different angle. For them, this shooting is a whole event, a holiday. It makes me live, nourish and empower.
Finding people who are willing to be present and help is harder than those who can donate money. Therefore, I believe that everyone has their own format of charity. A small help is better than a big sympathy. It is better to do even a trifle, but at least somehow pay attention to the problem.
Helping is not good, it is normal.
Anna Zelinska, public relations manager of Okean Elzy band
I learned about Dima Svichynskyi from Facebook – I saw a post from an acquaintance and could not pass by. At the time, I didn’t know anything about SMA (spinal muscular atrophy), I was just struck by the story itself, the amount and timing – a 3-month-old baby, $2.3 million, 3 months to collect. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It was obvious that such a huge amount could be raised only by attracting as many people as possible. And if I already know about it, then I have to do something too.
The idea for the Dating Auction came quickly. I have heard about this format – a charity auction of meetings, where skills, energy, knowledge and professional experience are sold as the lots. I made a list of potential lots – restaurateurs, musicians, PR people, photographers, athletes, film producers, there was even a tattoo artist.
I have fantastic and talented friends! I contacted them – in 99% cases, I did not even finish talking before I heard: “Yes! Let’s do it!” It was very inspiring and reassuring. Now #DatingAuctionforDima is already living its life – more and more posts with this tag are appearing online. And this means that it performs its function – it unites interesting and caring people to help the baby.
However, when I started this activity for Dima, I accidentally found out about another girl – 5-month-old Alisa Shevchyk from Kryvyi Rih. Now I try to help her too.
I’ve been hearing the phrase “you can’t help everyone” lately, but I believe otherwise. Don’t help “everyone,” do help specific people. Help Dima, help Alisa, help somebody else. But do not stand aside. Such a chain of mutual assistance is easy and natural.
Remember Hemingway? “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”