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'It's time to go back' — Schuylkill County professor returns to Ukraine

A professor from Schuylkill County who fled the war-torn nation days before the conflict began is going back. He's returning with a purpose.

SCHUYLKILL COUNTY, Pa. — It's been five months since Russian forces invaded Ukraine. 

Just before the first attacks, Matthew Kenenitz, an English professor at Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, returned to his hometown of Frackville in Schuylkill County. There, Kenenitz continued holding virtual classes with his students, many of them still in Ukraine. Now, he said, it's time to go back.

"I've been gone for too long. It's just that need to be able to see people and to be part of where I was for the past three years," Kenenitz said.

Kenenitz plans to return to Western Ukraine on Monday to renew his residency status and wants to bring some much-needed support with him, knowing how hard it's been for Ukrainians all over the country. 

"Getting medical aid, preparing food packages, sending supplies to the East, not to mention seeing fallen soldiers come back to places like Lviv and other areas, it's very taxing," he said.

"It's very hard when you lose someone, you know," Halyna Kurochka said. "We lost, the university lost people, lost our students. It's very painful."

Kurochka is head of the English department at Ukrainian Catholic University, an institution that's collected and distributed more than $4 million of humanitarian aid since the war began.

"Lots of organizations trust us," she said. "They trust, and they give money, and they know that money will go directly where they are needed most of all."

As he prepares to head back, Kenenitz is launching a fundraiser of his own, hoping to raise $100,000 in seven days. 

From Lviv's city center, one of Kenenitz's former students said it would go a long way.

"The intensity of war is still the same, and the needs of our soldiers are still the same, so we need a constant flow of money," Mykola Kryvyi said. "We believe that this fundraiser and this $100,000 will really be able to help us."

Kenenitz is accepting contributions to the fundraiser using the three methods of payment listed below. 

  • Venmo: @Matthew-Kenenitz
  • Paypal: @iconographic
  • Email: MKenenitz@gmail.com

See more videos on our area's connection to the Crisis in Ukraine.

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