Breaking News
More () »

Minnesota man helps Ukrainian refugees find safe haven at Poland home

The United Nations said Monday that more than 500,000 refugees have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded.

KRAKÓW, Poland — Many of you have reached out to learn how you can help the Ukrainian people. 

Some of the very first refugees are now safe and staying with a Minnesota man and his family who live in Poland.

William Shaw is working to mobilize more hosts as the number of those fleeing continues to grow. 

"We want to live with open hands and sharing what we have," said Shaw who is originally from Shoreview, Minnesota. His wife is from Poland and the two have been living there for nearly 10 years.

Shaw and his wife are hosting a couple, their two-year-old daughter and her grandmother. The young man escaped Ukraine before men between the ages of 18 and 60 were required to stay and fight. 

"We're not only hosting, but we're part of a group that's organizing so that we can be ready to connect refugees with hosts and meet whatever needs they might have," said Shaw.

The United Nations is reporting 500,000 refugees so far have fled Ukraine, but the European Union is expecting millions. Shaw doesn't believe Poland is ready for a wave of refugees.

"I don't think the safety net can support that," said Shaw. "These people are going to need help with rent, will need placement in school and jobs, so we're trying to think long-term and organize our network to try and go for the long haul."

Shaw said he, like the young family he's hosting, are in shock over the war. They are from Kyiv - about a 10-hour drive to Krakow where Shaw lives.

"The first day they were just glued to their phones," said Shaw, who also says there's value in trying to live a normal life and together the group has ordered pizza and cooked pancakes. 

"A lot of people can’t even get to the border because there are Russian soldiers around," said Shaw. 

Despite their shock, the refugees seeking comfort are also showing strength in the face of war. Shaw said they're ready to give back and hopefully, one day, go back home.

"If everything is leveled, doesn't matter," said Shaw. "They're willing to go back and rebuild their country."

If you'd like to help support children and refugees, or supply food, medical supplies and more, here's a list of local and international organizations that are collecting donations for Ukraine.

Before You Leave, Check This Out