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Local man heads to Ukraine to help


T.J. Rodman of Beaumont talks via Zoom about his trip to Ukraine, April 21, 2022.

Local man heads to Ukraine to help

By Ginger Kovar, UP contributor

Watching tragedies unfold on the news can leave one feeling helpless and wanting to help. Instead of just writing a check, T.J. Rodman of Beaumont decided to act and left for Ukraine after receiving a call from a friend during the Russian invasion of Kharkiv in February.

Rodman departed from Houston the evening of Sunday, April 24 to Warsaw, Poland to join a private aid group organizing medical supply relief in Kyiv.

On the way home from a work event, Rodman received a call from his friend, “Ari called me and told me that her apartment building had caught on fire and that there were explosions happening and everything like that. And it was when the invasion was happening. It was the moment that the Russians started shelling the city that she was living in. And it kind of came as a shock to me.”

He said it’s the first time he can recall in his almost 40 years of seeing conflicts between two modernized countries.

“I started to see the human cost of it. What was happening to families, what was happening to the women and children, and seeing the refugee crisis that was starting to build up, I knew it was time to do something,” he said.

Rodman made the decision at the beginning of March to do something.

“I have a network of about 60 different people that I stayed in contact with. They're mostly private groups. There's one group that stationed and it's a border town in Poland, Przemysl or something like that. And it's about 10 miles away from where I'm going to station myself in Medyka (Poland). And then there's two other groups in Medyka that I'm working with. And then there's a group that's based in Lviv, which is the western most town in Ukraine. So what I'm going to be doing is I'm going to be splitting some of my time between Medyka and Lviv delivering medical supplies and bringing refugees back.”

In the few weeks leading up to his flight, Rodman, who works for Riceland Healthcare, had been making arrangements to get ahead of daily life tasks, “You know just basic rat killing so I don't come home from what could possibly be a life altering experience and have all this stuff that I didn't prepare for. It’s mainly just been like kind of preparing for return to normal life.”

Rodman, who is single, said his family is concerned about his trip, but basically untethered.

“I don’t have any real tie downs to the area except for my job, and of course, my cats,” he said. “So that’s the main thing that’s gonna get me coming home is my cats.”

Since speaking with Rodman April 21, he updated everyone on social media that the group he’s a part of will be going into farther into Ukraine where the group will set up supply lines between Medyka, Poland and Kyiv, Ukraine and points along the Dnipro River.

The graphic designer will head back to U.S. on May 8, and he hopes to bring attention to what is happening on the ground in Ukraine by posting pictures and video to his social media throughout his trip.

Category: News