Most North Texans view the struggles of Ukraine and its people from a safe and comfortable distance. It’s a war being fought nearly 6,000 miles away.
But for Oncor’s Vitaliy Varizhuk, the war feels very close to home.
Varizhuk, a West DOC Troubleman, grew up in the Ukraine city of Vinnytsia. He and his wife, Olesya, have a number of family members there — some who are fighting for Ukraine and others who are fighting to stay alive.
“When we received the news that the war actually started, my wife prayed and we just … we tried to call our parents, right away, check what was happening,” Varizhuk said.
“That was overwhelming. That was terrifying. It’s hard to even say how badly we felt. This is something you don’t ever want to experience in your life.”
Varizhuk arrived in the United States in 2004, living in New York before relocating to the Dallas-Fort Worth area. He joined Oncor in 2008.
Oncor Employee Shares Ukraine Ties
Since the start of the war, Varizhuk and his wife have been fighting a personal battle to do whatever they can to help their families, their friends and their former country.
“So when the war broke out, a lot of my friends at the company, the people I work with, my former and current supervisors, they were able to contact me, I would say the first day and every time we meet, they constantly ask me a question,” he said. “Everybody’s being so nice and just offering some help.”
The help comes not only in the form of well wishes and emotional support, but in contributions for Ukraine, he said.
Varizhuk and his wife are part of the Ukrainian Cultural Club of Dallas, which has been collecting humanitarian aid that’s sent to Ukraine. The donations are more than money, food and toiletries.
Vitaliy Varizhuk, far right, said his parents have relocated to Germany because of the war in their native Ukraine. From left are his mother and father, Zoia and Mykola Varizhuk, and his son, Nicholas, and wife, Olesya.
He knew that many of his Oncor coworkers and friends on Facebook are hunters. So he reached out in person and online asking for donations of old hunting clothing and gear.
“Maybe that thing is going to serve good purpose for fight in maybe a different country, whoever struggles to fight for freedom,” he said. “It was really surprising to me to get such a great response from all my friends and coworkers at Oncor. It just happened so quickly.”
While the war plods on, Varizhuk and his wife continue their own fight to collect food and supplies to send to Ukraine. They are very grateful that they can still contact family members.
“I guess I’m fortunate that I have been able to keep in touch with my entire family and we speak on the phone every day,” he said. “We can call each other and yeah, we are fortunate that my family is still alive. They’re still OK.”
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