BUFFALO N.Y. (WIVB) — A family from Ukraine is getting a fresh new start in Buffalo. The Goryachkina family has been trying for months to leave their war-torn country. The family was welcomed with hugs as they made their way through the airport Thursday morning.

“It is very exciting, we’re happy to be here. So far we’ve met wonderful people along the way,” said Zhenya Goryachkina.

The family’s plans to move to Buffalo have been in the works before the war started between Russia and Ukraine. After Russia invaded their country back in February, they had to wait four months before coming here.

“We were nervous throughout this whole time,” Zhenya said. “It was not easy because we didn’t know what was going to happen, either we’re going there or how long we had to wait so yea we just kept praying.”

“Last four months were super tough, when war broke out they couldn’t leave the country,” said Natalia Vasylchuk, who helped organize the family’s move to the states. “They were stuck in Poland. Thank God they found a very good family who was hosting them and finally they are here.”

“It was frustrating trying to get them over here,” said Fr. John Hutnyan from St. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church. “The people in Buffalo, it’s like Buffalo love, they opened their pockets, they opened their wallets and they helped out and we’re thankful.”

Not every member of the Goryachkina family is resettling in Buffalo.

“Half of our family is still in Ukraine. My brother is on the frontline right now and has to fight,” Zhenya said. “My sister and her husband are in Odessa, they’re serving. They have a ministry to help the refugees, with supplies and everything so we’re really nervous and worried about them.”

Zhenya and her six family members who arrived here do plan on making Buffalo their permanent home.
This was done through Catholic Charities’ resettlement and refugee program.

Sarah Minkewicz is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.