SARATOGA SPRINGS — A city man with family ties to Poland is flying to that country Sunday night to help in any way he can, including handing out cards he gathered that contain “messages of hope” — and cash — for Ukrainian refugees.
Adam Israel and his wife of 12 years, Katarzyna Israel, a native of Poland, own a home and an SUV in Augustow, Poland, a seasonal tourist community, much like Lake George, that is now deluged with Ukrainian refugees.
The Israels lived in Poland last winter during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The husband is headed to Poland for an indeterminate amount of time to help refugees with safety and travel needs. He said he will spend time in both Augustow and Warsaw.
Israel asked local residents to donate cards with messages of hope along with a suggested donation of $20. As of Friday, he said he’s collected $10,000 from about 200 cards so far. He expects the number of cards to double by the time he departs.
“My hope is to have 400,” he said, “but I’d be ecstatic if I had 500.”
Israel said the outpouring of support and prayers has been moving, considering his initial intent was to help “a little bit.”
Anyone who wants to send a card and donate money can do so through the Facebook page “Letters of Hope for Ukraine.”
There are instructions to donate through Venmo.
Israel said he will keep the collection effort open after he departs, as the pledges continue to roll in.
“I’ve got a message from a lady in Arizona whose son is incarcerated, and the inmates all want to send letters, and she’s like, “There’s no way we can get them before Sunday,’ ” he said.
Israel said he will share information about his travels on Facebook, to show people where the cards and money went to.
Israel has a prior background in helping during a time of crisis.
He said his family split time living in Saratoga Springs and the U.S. Virgin Islands for about 10 years, and in 2017, they were on the island when it was ravaged by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria. Both were Category 5 disasters that struck within two weeks of one another.
Nobody could get off the island because of damage to the airport. The government ended up getting people off the island via cruise ships.
At that time, Israel had a vehicle on the island, and he offered free rides for people.
Then he implemented an effort that encouraged people to purchase flat-rate boxes at their local post office, and to then “stuff” the boxes with donated items islanders could use, including cellphone chargers, socks, sanitary items, along with messages of hope.
“Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts did a story about how much these boxes meant to people.
Israel, an entrepreneur, has a company that performed logistics for the federal government. He said the company was doing well until the hurricanes struck.
He later waged a losing bid as an independent candidate for commissioner of finance in Saratoga Springs last year.
“I find myself with some time on my hands, looking for the next adventure, if you will,” he said. “I’m very comfortable in Poland and I’ve been in crisis areas before and operated through them.”
Contact reporter Brian Lee at [email protected] or 518-419-9766.
GAZETTE COVERAGEEnsure access to everything we do, today and every day, check out our subscribe page at DailyGazette.com/Subscribe
More from The Daily Gazette:
Categories: News, Saratoga County, Saratoga Springs