I consider myself a lucky person. I usually define luck as being in the right place at the right time with the right tools. I have made my way through my life sort of blindly advancing step by step without a great deal of consideration – and professionally, it has worked out. (Catch the next production of my play Silkworms to get more insight on the personal side of my life.)
But sometimes, luck is just luck. You find that perfect parking spot. The lights change to green as you approach the intersection. You find yourself hosting a delightful and talented Ukrainian refugee and her daughter.
Ok, that needs a little explanation.
Back when Putin invaded Ukraine, I received an email from Air BnB asking if I was interested in donating my spare room to a refugee if needed. I had decided not to rent it out, but was still on the email list. After checking “yes” I forgot about it until early October 2022, when I received an email asking if I would open my home to a refugee and her daughter for 2 weeks – a month would be better.
After speaking with the refugee coordinator and reading the short bio provided, I said, send absolutely send them over. What caught my eye was that Vira Ustianska is a professional oil painter and I just happened to have recently turned my garage into a painting studio thinking that I was going to paint when I retire. Well, retirement hasn’t happened yet, so why not let someone else use the space.
Vira and her 8-year-old daughter Vasy have been with me now since early October 2022 and are welcome to stay with me until such time as she can return to Ukraine or she finds other accommodations. The arrangement is working out well. Using my media contacts, I have been able to get her story published in the San Diego Union Tribune, coverage on KPBS radio and TV, Channel 8, The World on NPR. We have been able to get paintings hung in restaurants, theaters, real estate offices and for fund raisers. Vira even wrote a follow up essay for the Union Tribune.
There is no way to predict what will happen – when she will be able to see her husband or the rest of family again. Until that time comes, we are grateful that our luck is holding!
Check out her website for hundreds of paintings created here in the US, during the 5 months in Poland before arriving here, and many many more created in Ukraine.