B5’s location has always been important to our mission. We serve in central Kennewick, where many refugees families live when they first arrive.

Over the years, refugees and immigrants from Ukraine have been welcomed to our area by the existing Slavic community. Their families are dispersed throughout the Tri-Cities, not just in Kennewick. Usually, the children have not attended programs at B5. But in the past year, several hundred refugees from the invasion of Ukraine have arrived in our area. Aware of funds available through School’s Out Washington, B5 Executive Director Theresa Roosendaal reached out to leaders in Ukrainian community. They were amazed that our country would be interested in helping their kids, and agreed to host an after-school program.

On Tuesday, B5 started an after-school program in a new location, Word of Life Church, one of several Slavic Christian congregations in the Tri-Cities.

The grant for this program specifically targets Ukrainian Humanitarian Parolees (and their children), who have arrived since the war in Ukraine began. Invitations have gone out via churches among the Slavic community, and by word of mouth. Students from kindergarten through grade 12 are welcome.

Since the parents and caregivers will have to bring children to the program, it is being held twice a week. On the first day, last Tuesday, about 20 children attended. Eventually the program is expected to grow to reach 70 students.

The program is led by Mila Doroshchuk, who came to the US from Ukraine when she was a little girl. In addition to homework help, there will be enrichment activities, and visits from community organizations like the Master Gardeners. Doroshchuk will visit families in their homes and help families interface with their local schools.

We are grateful to have a new way to welcome this group in a place that feels safe and welcoming to them.

Mila Doroshchuk and staff explain a game to students