SEATTLE — Chelsea Fortier is a dental hygienist at Fremont Dental who said her 18 years of caring for patients has prepared her for an ambitious volunteer campaign.
“It’s been a little bit forgotten about but this is a global issue," Fortier said. "It’s a dire and desperate situation.”
Fortier is preparing to return to Ukraine in just a few days and will help lead a small team of volunteers who will deliver medical supplies, medications, food and winter supplies.
Fortier spent a month volunteering in Ukraine in mid-May and connected with a local veteran Chris Sheppard, who had also spent a month volunteering in Ukraine earlier this year.
Two more veterans joined the pack to form a nonprofit called American Aid.
A return trip to a war zone is daunting but the team said they’ve seen the indescribable destruction and genuine human need for help.
“We are going back because there are not enough volunteers on the ground in Ukraine," Fortier said. "Smaller organization are seeming to make more progress and more face to face deliveries of goods and supplies than larger organizations.”
Fortier believes the nimble nature of her team allows them to be more responsive and personal.
“We truly see the value in humans helping humans and it has mainly started with collaborations between smaller organizations that are growing far and wide to help those most in need inside Ukraine,” Fortier said.
Chris Sheppard said the human drama he has personally witnessed in Ukraine rivals the two tours of duty he served in Iraq.
“The sheer human tragedy that I saw going down was unreal,” Sheppard said.
Sheppard said the team will be able to amplify their efforts on this trip by joining up with Community Action Network.
“CAN is letting us operate under their umbrella and that means that all of the money we raise goes to work directly with our volunteers on the ground in Ukraine,” Sheppard said.
The group said they share all of their donations and purchase on Facebook so donors can track their impact and see where the donations are going in Ukraine.