On August 29, 2023, Joni and Friends and its Founder/CEO Joni Eareckson Tada were awarded the prestigious Ukrainian White Cross “Honor et Gloria” medal of honor.
Given on behalf of the Ukrainian government to non-Ukrainians, this award recognizes those who have played a significant role in aiding the country during the Russian-Ukrainian war. Recipients include volunteers, rescuers, philanthropists, and specialists who actively helped and supported Ukraine.
Presenting the notable award were longtime partners of Joni and Friends, Serhii and Nataliya Bolchuk, who traveled from their ongoing work with Ukrainian refugees to recognize the ministry at its California headquarters.
Nataliya who lives with disability shared, “We are very grateful to you that you thought of us the very first day of the war and for helping us in evacuating so many people… You’re a great example for us.”
The refugees with disabilities are now living in safety in neighboring countries, receiving medical care, food and essential hygiene items, and counseling. That same year and during 2023, Joni and Friends also hosted special Family Retreats to provide respite and hope to evacuated Ukrainians. Through events in Romania, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, and Hungary, Joni and Friends created unique opportunities for spiritual renewal, healing, and joy for refugees facing additional challenges due to disability.
Expressing her gratitude for the Ukrainian White Cross award, Joni Eareckson Tada remarked, “I am so grateful, so honored… but of course the real honor goes to all the strong and brave warriors who continue to fight in Ukraine, as well as to those like Serhii and Natalyia who continue to serve people with disabilities who are refugees. What a blessing. We are just honored to be partnering with them”
SVP of International Ministries at Joni and Friends, Steve Bundy, who was also in attendance expressed his gratitude saying, “Today is an honorable day. The Bolchuks brought to us the award of the White Cross from the Ukrainian government in recognition of Joni Eareckson Tada and the efforts of Joni and Friends in partnership with them to help refugees get to places of safety during this challenging time of war… We are so honored to be with our longtime friends.”
Galyna joins the podcast to share how God has strengthened and equipped her and other Joni and Friends partners to serve vulnerable people in the midst of severe danger. Hear what Galyna wants you to know about the Ukraine war, and what you can do to help.