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Ukrainian family receives an extra special welcome to New Brunswick


Inside the Savchenko and Kazunin family home in Dieppe, N.B., the walls are covered with family photos, several lamps warm the space and carefully-placed furniture helps fill each and every room.

It looks like an everyday home, but the four walls have a very special story to tell.

“Yesterday we were very happy and we cried with happiness,” said Maryna Savchenko.

On Wednesday, Maryna, Anatolii and Rostyslav Savchenko, along with Oleh Kazunin, picked up their keys to their new home in Dieppe after arriving to the Greater Moncton area just two weeks ago.

When they walked into their new house, they found it completely filled with furniture and personal touches.

“Last night we didn’t sleep because we had a shock,” said Maryna.

Exit Realty Realtor Jacky Stephen met the family about 10 days ago.

“I asked them if they had anything for the house, they explained to me, between the language barrier that we have, that they have nothing, only their clothes,” said Stephen. “That evening I drove home and I was on a mission to try and find everything that I could to make this place a home for them.”

She instantly put a call out on Facebook and donations started pouring in.

Stephen says she has three grandsons herself and when she saw 11-year-old Rostyslav, she knew she wanted to help.

“I can’t imagine my three grandsons leaving the war and going to another country, so when I saw him he pulled my heart in a very big way and that’s when I became very determined to make sure I could make this family a really nice place to live,” she said.

The first donation she received was from the owner of Exit Realty, followed by gift cards and monetary donations from all over New Brunswick, including from Cindy Chiasson and Stephane Comeau from Royal LePage in Bathurst, and the generosity didn’t stop there.

“I was pumped and I made a call to my best friend Sylvie, explained the situation and asked for help and she says ‘I’m all in,’” said Stephen.

Three beds were donated from Sleep Country on Frenette Avenue in Moncton, Canadian Tire in Riverview donated a bike, helmet and several other goodies, and McArthur’s Nursey made sure fresh plants helped finish the space.

Stephen even printed and framed family photos to hang on walls and place on ledges so the family would feel right at home from the moment they walked in.

“With all of that, I was able to do all of this and with any money that was left after we had got every little detail, we went to get some groceries and basically filled the cupboards with what we thought they might need,” she said.

Stephen and Sylvie Poirier spent several days collecting donations, shopping and decorating the space before they passed over the keys on Wednesday evening.

“I felt very emotional and I had tears in my eyes just to see them, how excited they were to see their rooms and the kitchen, they opened all the cupboards and it was nice to see them very excited and very appreciative of the house,” said Poirier. “It feels very good. I don’t think there’s anything that can describe how good we feel.”

Thursday will mark the first night that the family gets to spend in their new home.

“We feel very happy because we come in Canada two weeks ago and this is the first step in Canada. We’re very happy because it shows the people in Canada are very great people,” said Oleh Kazunin.

“When we opened this house, we had emotions, it’s a big surprise, we’re not ready for this. It’s great work. We must say thank you very much.”

As for what’s next, everyone involved is walking away with new friendships as well as a comfortable place to call home.

The family has already invited Stephen and Poirier back for a barbecue when the weather gets nicer and the pair have extended the invitation for help as the family continues to get settled.

Thursday morning Maryna reached out to Stephen and said, “You have thought of every detail, spent your time, energy and money to make it all work. You are just incredible.

“My sisters and parents, who are now in Ukraine, cried when I showed them this, and they also thank you for having such a kind heart.” 

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