The Medora connection: friends help Ukraine in time of war

Published: Mar. 25, 2022 at 11:51 AM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Every summer, the population of Medora more than triples, as seasonal employees come to town to work at different tourist attractions. Many of them come from around the world, from places like China, South Africa and even Ukraine.

The diversity of the workers is something special, and the connection they have is even more special.

Now, a connection made years ago is helping provide supplies to people in Ukraine.

Yerema Slonevskyy’s Medora nametag holds hundreds of memories.

“People see it says I’m from Ukraine and they ask, ‘How did you end up in Medora?’” he explained.

Every summer since 2008, he’s been leaving his home in Ukraine and coming to Medora. He is one of more than 300 seasonal employees the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation hires each summer.

Slonevskyy quickly learned that there is something special about Medora.

It’s not about the job, it’s about the people,” he said from his home in Ukraine.

Now those people, are helping Slonevskyy as his country faces war.

“I worked with Yerema that first year,” said Jason Masten, a Florida native who spent two summers as a TRMF seasonal employee. He met his girlfriend there. He also made other lifelong friends and developed his giving nature.

“Everybody deserves help,” Masten said.

Masten is now living in Poland, where he’s collecting supplies for Slonevskyy to distribute.

“I told him what we needed, and he said, ‘I’m willing to help you out as much as possible,’” recalled Slonevskyy.

Masten has already delivered one load of supplies to his friend.

“We met Yerema right in the buffer zone,” Masten said.

Slonevskyy said he won’t keep any of the supplies his friend collects. Instead, he’s distributing all the supplies to those he says need them the most.

Most of the donations have come from other Medora friends. Slonevskyy says that’s a testament to the magic of Medora.

“It’s a magical place,” he said.

And it is also proof of the lifelong connections made there.

Slonevskyy lives in western Ukraine. He says while his city has been relatively safe, there have been three missile attacks so far.

He says he is very grateful for kindness from his friends in Medora, from the prayers to the monetary donations and the supplies. He recently learned that two employees at his bank in Medora each donated $1,000 to help his relief efforts.

As for Masten, he is planning another supply delivery next week. If you’d like to help, he’s got a PayPal account.

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