October 5, 2022
“For all” is a simple but powerful phrase. Without it, the Y mission is incomplete. Our commitment to inclusion creates better communities, a better country, and a better world. Our "Stories of Diversity and Inclusion" series introduces our community to fellow members with a story to share.
We are always seeking stories that help us show how the Y makes a positive impact on individuals and families in our community. Share your story and inspire others!
My Y Story: The Pashova Family
When Russia invaded Ukraine at the end of February, 2022, many families went from a life of freedom and stability to fearing for their lives. Such was the circumstance for Andrii Pashov, his wife Anna Pashova, and their four children, residents of Vassyl’kiv, a suburb of Kiev, Ukraine.
“At first they were not sure how long the conflict would last,” said Lois Kourouchin, Pashova’s stepmother. “So when they evacuated they traveled around eastern Europe, trying to wait it out to return home.”
Once Andrii and Anna realized the invasion would be prolonged and hard-fought, they resolved to come to the U.S. on travel visas they use each year when they visit Vadim, Anna’s father, and his wife Lois Kourouchin in Chalfont, PA.
“They arrived with one suitcase, which was filled only with their medications and one change of clothes for each of them. It was the end of the school year, but we really had no idea how long they would need to stay,” Kourouchin continued. “And I was worried Sofia (11), Anastasia (8) and Ivan (6) would have nothing to do while my husband and I worked.Their parents could not work on their visitor visas, even though our son-in-law is a physician.”
With the expense of taking in a family of six, including Anna and Andrii’s infant son Pavel, Lois and Vadim were not going to be able to afford to send Sofia, Anastasia and Ivan to local area camps. That was when they walked through the doors of the Doylestown branch of YMCA of Bucks and Hunterdon Counties.
“I visited a number of local camps before I went to the Y and mentioned my family was fleeing Ukraine with four children. I was really grasping at straws by that point. I explained our situation and the Y invited us to apply for financial assistance for the three older children to attend camp. The YMCA recognized their need as refugees and opened Camp Bucks to them with open arms. Anna was crying, she was so grateful.”
Lois continued, “We were completely blown away by what the Y was able to do for us. The kids absolutely loved camp and they looked forward to going every day. Their English became fluent and they made friends who were very sad to see them go when it came time to leave the U.S. and return to Europe.”
The Pashovas stayed with Lois and Vadim for five months before returning to Vassyl’kiv. They are able to live at home for now, near a military base providing around-the-clock patrols, with the hope to return to Chalfont for their annual visit with Lois and Vadim in May of 2023.
“They are very hopeful Ukraine will prevail in this war against Russia,” Lois concluded.
“There are no words to describe the godsend the Y was for providing camp for the kids this summer. We hope that when they come again the circumstances will be different and we can sign them up for more YMCA programs.”