Utah woman hoping to sponsor Ukrainian refugees, bring them to Beehive State

Jun 10, 2022, 7:09 PM | Updated: 8:42 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The Ukrainian conflict brought Whitney Holocomb to Poland a few months ago, helping refugees resettle in their temporary shelters. Yet, as the months have continued on, these temporary shelters are becoming more permanent than Ukrainians had hoped for.

Holocomb met one Ukrainian family who has been living in Polish shelters for the past three months — their living conditions, though better than being out in the cold, are not an ideal, long-term solution.

Yevhen Zavoloka, nicknamed “Eugene,” brought his wife and kids, sister-in-law, and friend from Ukraine to live in the Polish shelters Holocomb volunteered at.

“Someone like Eugene was invaluable to us because he was one of the few people that spoke English,” Holocomb said.

Zavoloka and his family have been living in an office space for the past three weeks.

“In this shelter, we have 400 people on five floors,” Zavoloka said.

On each floor, 100 people are sharing three bathrooms.

The poor living conditions are one of the reasons why Holocomb wants to bring Zavoloka to Utah — but for Zavoloka, moving would be more than just switching up their temporary living situation.

“I want to create new life because my life is destroyed,” Zavoloka said.

The Holocomb’s have space in their home, which is why they’re hoping to sponsor Zavoloka’s team of 11 through the federal program “Uniting for Ukraine.”

“There’s a lot of questions,” Holocomb said. “You’re committing to financially support these people for two years.”

There’s no other refugee program like Uniting For Ukraine because it requires individual sponsorships rather than agency sponsorships. The lack of a formal agency also means Ukrainians aren’t connected with resettlement programs, which is where the Catholic Community Services has stepped in instead.

Aden Batar, director of Migration and Refugee Services at Catholic Community Services, has helped families with their basic needs upon arrival in the Beehive State. Batar also encouraged families looking to sponsor Ukrainians to reach out for assistance.

“They can walk in any time,” Batar said. “Our staff are trained to help them and to provide the services that they need.”

Around 30,000 Ukrainians have arrived through the Uniting For Ukraine program and Batar said they’ve already helped a few new families who relocated to Utah.

“We’re helping a family get their food stamp, Medicaid, Social Security, and we can connect them with our immigration attorney who’s going to help them with their immigration paperwork,” Batar said.

The immigration process looks different for these Ukrainians because of their temporary parole status.

Batar said Ukrainians coming over through the federal program are not considered refugees, but rather are here on a temporary status with the potential to gain citizenship.

“We provide a lot of people what they need with immigration, help unite with their families, get their legal status, get their citizenship, and so forth,” Batar said.

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

Jared M. Boyce, 27, of Springville, Utah (Kootenai County Sheriff's Office)...

Michael Houck

Utah Patriot Front member will be sentenced for child pornography charges

A Utah man who was arrested last year for his involvement with a white nationalist group in Idaho has admitted to possessing child pornography.

22 hours ago

The scene of the crash in Mexican Hat. (Utah Highway Patrol)...

Michael Houck

Driver killed in single-vehicle crash near Utah-Arizona borders

A driver was killed in a crash while crossing the San Juan River at the Mexican Hat bridge Friday afternoon.

22 hours ago

A member of the Salt Lake City Police Department’s SWAT Team speaks with a firefighter and a SLCP...

Michael Houck

Police take fugitive into custody after SWAT standoff in Sandy

A man wanted for aggravated assault and a domestic violence incident barricaded himself at a Sandy hotel Friday evening.

22 hours ago

Gabriela Sifuentes Castilla, the victim of who was shot and killed in October 2021....

Lauren Steinbrecher

Sister of murdered Utah radio show host ‘can finally sleep’ after suspect’s jailing

The sister of a Utah-based Spanish radio show host is sharing her relief that the justice system is moving forward after her sister was murdered more than a year and a half ago. 

22 hours ago

Salt Lake police reports about Utah neuropsychologist Parth Gandhi, who killed his 16-year-old son ...

Pat Reavy

Utah psychologist was under sex assault investigation at time of murder-suicide

Salt Lake police reports about Utah neuropsychologist Parth Gandhi, who killed his 16-year-old son in a murder-suicide, describe lengthy custody disputes of the boy and a sexual assault investigation underway at the time of Gandhi's death.

22 hours ago


Larry D. Curtis

Kamas orders residents to boil water, possibly for E. coli

Residents of Kamas in Utah's Summit County have been ordered to boil water for all uses.

22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Asian little girl playing arcade game on the computer machines at the shopping mall outlets...

Get Out Pass

Family Fun Activities in Utah You Have to Try This Summer

These family fun activities will entertain you all summer, so if you ever feel stuck in a rut wondering what to do, refer to this guide!

Woman IT specialist in elegant suit working on notebook computer in data center next to server rack...

Les Olson

Your Complete Guide to Outsourcing IT Services

This guide covers everything you need to know about the different benefits of outsourcing IT services to meet your small business needs.

diverse group of friends dance outside under string lights...

Lighting Design

5 Frequently Asked Questions About Outdoor Lighting

Read for the most frequently asked questions about outdoor lighting to help narrow the search for your home.

Stack of old laptops with dark background...

PC Laptops

Old Laptop Upgrades You Need to Try Before Throwing it Away

Get the most out of your investment. Try these old laptop upgrades before throwing it out to keep it running fast and efficient.

Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...

BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.

Close up of an offset printing machine during production...

Les Olson IT

Top 7 Reasons to Add a Production Printer to Your Business

Learn about the different digital production printers and how they can help your company save time and money.

Utah woman hoping to sponsor Ukrainian refugees, bring them to Beehive State