Arvada City Councilmember Lisa Smith heads to Poland to help with Ukrainian refugee crisis

Smith working with Operation White Stork to provide medical supplies, transportation to Ukrainians

Rylee Dunn
rdunn@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 3/28/22

Amid the ongoing war in the Ukraine, Arvada City Councilmember Lisa Smith has traveled to Poland, where she will spend two weeks collecting medical supplies and helping to transport refugees from Ukraine. Smith arrived in Poland on March 22.

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Arvada City Councilmember Lisa Smith heads to Poland to help with Ukrainian refugee crisis

Smith working with Operation White Stork to provide medical supplies, transportation to Ukrainians

Posted

Amid the ongoing war in the Ukraine, Arvada City Councilmember Lisa Smith has traveled to Poland, where she will spend two weeks collecting medical supplies and helping to transport refugees from Ukraine. Smith arrived in Poland on March 22.

Smith said that as she heard stories from the war unfold, she felt called to help. Smith has experience working with refugees through her work as a social worker and with Team Rubicon, an international non-governmental organization specializing in disaster response.

The Co-Founder of Team Rubicon, Will McNulty, organized an operation in Ukraine, called Operation White Stork in honor of the national bird of the Ukraine.

Smith said that the main objectives of Operation White Stork are to gather supplies, transport them to refugees in the war zone, and then to load up the cargo van with refugees and bring them back to Poland.

“We have two main missions; we have some space collecting medical supplies, creating what we call IFAK; combat medical supplies. We’re assembling those, and we have two vans and a bus for people to drive into Lviv, one hour from the Polish border, to drop off medical supplies and kits to soldiers and hospitals and pick up refugees from Ukraine,” Smith said.

An IFAK is an individual first aid kit that contains tourniquets, trauma sheers and other lifesaving materials. Smith’s team is set up at a seminary in Poland.

Smith said that while she was en route to Poland, the number of people she met who were going to help inspired her.

“To me, what was fascinating was that on my way over here, I didn’t know what I was walking into. I was connecting in Frankfurt, boarding a flight to Krakow, Poland, and half the flight was volunteers going to the frontlines. It was emotional to see people from all across the globe going to Poland to help,” Smith said.

“It was a very emotional but empowering moment to see so many people coming over taking time off work. Polish people we’ve talked to have mentioned they’re hosting a family—everyone’s doing their part,” Smith continued.

Despite being thousands of miles away, Arvada is still on Smith’s mind. When she arrived, Smith saw a scene that reminded her of a tribute Arvada recently displayed in support of Ukraine.

“When I landed in Krakow, I was picked up by another volunteer and we got on the highway. I saw a tower; it was lit up with Ukrainian flag colors and I immediately thought of Arvada and had this moment of feeling like there’s a bit of Arvada here. It was really cool to see how even in Arvada, we still support,” Smith said.

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