Karen Hogan knows firsthand how important it is to have someone to take care of your child so that a grieving mother can work through a difficult situation. In Jackson, Wyoming, Karen teaches music, movement, and art, and knows the healing and joy that dance can bring to both children and their caretakers. She says that her own trauma when she was a mother to a young child motivated her to serve Ukrainian mothers in Poland where she says, “refugee mothers are in dire need of someone to come and swoop their children up, and offer them the care they need.” This desire to provide care and psychosocial support brought Karen to Global Volunteers, and she did not hesitate to register to serve. Her two-week service program begins on May 28. Karen fundraised for her service program contribution, receiving generous support from friends and clients. Read on for details on Karen’s background and reasons for serving Ukrainian refugees.
By Karen Hogan, first-time Global Volunteer in Poland
My interest in volunteering for Ukrainian refugees evolved as I watched ever-growing numbers of women and children struggling to escape to safety in the bordering nations of Ukraine. My thoughts immediately went to a time when I experienced trauma, and I, too, was a single mother with a young child to care for. As mothers, we know that our well-being is intimately tied to the well-being of our own children. We experience their grief alongside our own. During this time, friends, especially mothers, helped tremendously by taking my child off for a playdate with their children, feeding them a nourishing dinner, and giving them love. At those times, when I knew my child was OK, I could carry on and focus on my own urgent needs.
Ukrainian mothers desperately need this same help right now. Ukrainian mothers carry immense burdens as they seek shelter in other countries. They must find immediate food, permanent housing and employment, medical assistance, and access to education while navigating the trauma they and their children have experienced. I cannot imagine. Mothers need to know that their children are well cared for as they tend to their urgent needs.
In my desire to help mothers in their time of need, I began searching for service organizations where my skills as a movement teacher and early childhood educator could be used. Focusing on psychosocial support and missions to support children, Global Volunteers arose as an organization with the potential to match my expertise with a need.
The body holds all of our experiences, whether they remain in our consciousness or unconsciousness, whether positive or negative experiences. Movement can be a means to invite social connections and promote a sense of belonging. Sharing movement gestures and rituals with a group contributes to the feeling of community by emphasizing participants’ cultural backgrounds. For children, movement is their first language. Before they can express themselves verbally, first they do so with movement.
“Mothers need to know that their children are well cared for as they tend to their urgent needs.”– Karen Hogan
I created a GoFundMe campaign to help offset airfare and accommodation expenses. What surprised me was the outpouring of assistance that followed. I would tell anyone interested in fundraising for volunteer work you are actually providing a service to many people searching for a way to help. I’ve found that people desperately want to contribute to the refugee crisis but cannot offer their time or services in Ukraine. Their desire to support Ukrainian refugees is met by helping those who have the time and ability to volunteer in person.
“I’ve found that people desperately want to contribute to the refugee crisis but cannot offer their time or services in Ukraine. Their desire to support Ukrainian refugees is met by helping those who have the time and ability to volunteer in person.”– Karen Hogan
Karen knows that the impact volunteers make ripples out to others, and the effects extend out to entire communities and beyond:
Read more about working with Ukrainian refugees in Poland here: