HADLEY, Mass. (WWLP) – A Hadley business owner just returned from a week-long trip in Poland where he spent his time assisting Ukrainian refugees crossing the border.
Paul Kozub is the President of V-One Vodka. The distillery for his business is located in Poland. His grandfather moved from Poland to Western Massachusetts in 1911. Once he saw what was going on next door in Ukraine, he knew he wanted to get there and to help.
“I learned my first word in Ukrainian, ‘poseeba, poseeba.’ They were so grateful,” said Kozub. Since 2005, Paul Kozub has owned a distillery in Poland, part of his business V-One Vodka based in Hadley. He watched from home in Massachusetts as Russia invade Ukraine and millions fled.
“The distillery I own is less than two hours from the Poland Ukraine border. I just wanted to bring some money and try to help out any way that I could,” explained Kozub. He announced his plans to travel to Poland with $5,000. Kozub gained support from friends and family and raised another $5,000 and flew thousands of miles away to help.
Kozub shared his experience, “Bochas, young babies, mothers. Buses that were leaving constantly, just moving a lot of people walking over the border. It was really surreal. Something nobody expected.”
Paul will continue to help. He’s setting up a fund on his business website that will connect people to organizations that go directly to supporting refugees.
The distillery owner spent three days at the border, where he used his money and what he had raised to buy supplies. While in Poland, People’s Bank wired Paul $4,000, part of that money went towards purchasing a washer and dryer for a 20 unit apartment complex housing, 80 refugees. The rest of the money went towards groceries.
“They don’t offset all the atrocities going on in Ukraine, but to lift their spirits for a few moments,” Kozub said.