Music connects Colorado family with Ukraine refugee family looking for sense of normalcy

ARVADA, Colo. (KDVR) — A family from Ukraine connected with a Colorado family through a music school in Arvada after they fled their war-torn country back in August of 2022.

“We woke up on February 24 and realized the war was starting. There was bombing, there was shooting,” Eugenia, a Ukraine Refugee now living in Arvada, said.

Eugenia and her husband were volunteering to help people get medicine while in Ukraine. She said there was no food and every day they were putting their lives at risk, while their daughter Sofiia was hiding at a family friend’s home.

“We had to hide our kids and my friend’s kids in an underground because every minute you don’t know whether you are going to wake up because the missiles were coming there was shooting and bombing,” Eugenia said.

Eugenia explained they had to make the decision to flee to the country and connected with a friend in the United States who had a room the family could stay in for a bit. She said they knew that was the safest decision for her family.

“Everything we invested our savings into was a family business just eight to nine months before the war started and it was ruined when the war came,” Eugenia said.

They made their way to the United States with minimal money but they were able to bring Sofiia’s violin but it was damaged a bit while fleeing. Eugenia said her 7-year-old had just started learning to play six months before the war started.

“She was playing good. She was progressing really good,” Eugenia said.

Once they got to the United States, mom Eugenia just wanted her daughter to have some sense of normalcy.

“I googled and found the Deeply Rooted Music School and they were offering some grants,” Eugenia said the school offered free lessons to Sofiia.

“I was sitting with her as she started to play. I started crying because here is my child playing just like normal here is my child and we are safe,” Eugenia said.

But during the lesson, another special moment happened when she met Troy Behrends.

“We were there for a regular lesson on a Saturday, I was with my son and Eugenia walks in with Sofiia,” Behrends said, “she tells me about her weekend then she really started sharing her story and it became emotional.”

Behrends said at that moment he knew he had to do something to help their family.

“She’s just trying to bring something to her child that feels normal that feels like home despite the entire struggle they’ve had,” Behrends said.

So he started a fundraiser via GoFundMe to raise enough money for a new violin and a year of lessons for Sofiia. He said all the other money raised and donated will go to Eugenia and her husband for everyday expenses while they work to adjust to a new life in the United States.

“We are so grateful for this,” Eugenia said.

There is also a GoFundMe for the family if you’d like to help you can donate here.

Behrends also organized a mountain bike ride on Sunday, May 7th, 2023. The ride is 12pm at Waterton Canyon. The plan is to ride the 17-mile loop (level – beginner). Please contact Behrend via GoFundMe if you’d like to join.

Behrends said he is going to work with the music school to pick out a new violin for Sofiia in May and that is when it will be given to her.

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