The Cross Border Housewould like toacknowledge
The Cross Border House would like to acknowledge the inexhaustible allegiance of the Polish staff, who keep the property in good working order. Pani Dorota, Pani Gosia, and Pan Romek are here every day to make certain we live in a clean and well-maintained environment. There are others who join us in this effort during large local events such as Mud Day. Great thanks to Pani Agnieszka, Pani Helena, and Pani Weronika.
We would like to recognize and express our sincerest gratitude to Yuliia Pechenizka for contributing her photography to the website. Her documentation has brought a critical dimensionality to The Cross Border House. Her photographs will always remain a poignant expression of all we have come to hold dear — the many residents we have come to know and all the wonderful moments we’ve shared in as a household.
Amber Poole Kieniewicz
A founding member of the Sichów Educational Foundation, Amber is undeniably the heart of the house. She is a natural caregiver who is ever-willing to attend to the needs of others. Her strength and leadership gave impetus to The Cross Border House when the Sichów Educational Foundation decided to suspend its program so that as many Ukrainians as the building could accommodate would be able to find safety and shelter here.
Funding for The Cross Border House has come exclusively from private donations, the majority of which have been generated from Amber’s War Diaries. The money raised has sustained the house and its residents since February. From these donations, we have been able to provide the basic provisions of food, shelter and clothing; cover the costs of medical and dental needs; purchase of materials, tools and equipment for the Art Gallery and Sewing Center; and ensure the children who are going to school have money for lunches and supplies, including a lap-top for a teenager who is studying online. Just a small sample of the meaningful and consequential care that has been realized from the contributions of those inspired by her writing.
As a playwright, she has also shared her talents with the house in writing plays and fairy tales that are deeply enjoyed by everyone here. When not at her desk writing or visiting with the residents, Amber keeps our kitchen organized, making sure we are well-supplied. She sees that each resident has the proper accommodations in their rooms, and she shops for clothes and other essential items.
Amber’s intuitive understanding of other’s needs and how to both create and hold space for people cultivates an atmosphere of trust and reassurance amidst all of the uncertainty. This influence resonates throughout the entire house. Her devotion and unwavering adherence to her own particular philosophy of care defines the manner and ethos in which we are able to provide and serve the residents of The Cross Border House.
A founding member of the Sichów Educational Foundation, Paul acts as liaison between the government offices and The Cross Border House residents. He makes certain that each one has the documentation which qualifies them for medical care, benefits and other services offered to the Ukrainian in exile.
He pays the bills. (Thank you, Paul.) He keeps a record of all our donors and writes personal emails to each. He places our food orders three to four times a week and is translator and driver. Paul keeps this engine running. It should go without saying that with close to forty residents, there are many, many daily needs that must be met. But there are those urgent situations that unfortunately arise from time to time that demand absolute attention and resolution. Urgencies like navigation of the educational system to ensure that the children can attend school and not fall behind in their academic studies; doctor’s visit for the sick; a child’s surgery. Paul schedules and drives and sits in waiting rooms with anxious parents. He instills an irreplaceable sense of certainty and security among the residents as well as the rest of the team. A busy man—a good, noble man.
But, if you ask him, what Paul will tell you he likes doing most of all is teaching the recorder to one of our younger residents here. If you’re fortunate enough to be around on Monday or Thursday, you’ll have the advantage of hearing them practice. For that one hour the house is under the spell of a 17th century enchantment.
Stefan opened his home and offered his property to the Sichów Educational Foundation seven years ago. In the same spirit, he has received the Ukrainians in exile.
In the early days of the war, Stefan volunteered at the local train stations to support the arriving refugees. He brought several families to Sichów — some with special needs children and others requiring emergency medical intervention — all of whom are still living here. He also helped secure housing in Kraków for a Ukrainian blind couple and their family.
He is an advocate for all residents who are seeking employment. He initiates contacts, checks out prospective employers, and follows up on all aspects of this process.
Stefan is an invaluable source of help to The Cross Border House as he prepares required documentation for the disabled and arranges for their school enrollment and transportation. He is resolute in his commitment to the children with special needs, and his connections in Poland as well as his willingness to support are indispensable.
Anna joined the project as soon as she finished her regular teaching duties at Warsaw School of Economics for summer pause. She is particularly passionate about providing families in residence with the best medical support. She works side by side with them in assessing their personal health issues and their needs. On her own, she organized the support of a local dentist and drives tirelessly those in need to the doctors and hospitals.
Like Stefan, she is an advocate for all the residents here looking for employment and economic independence. She assists with interview preparation and evaluates available opportunities. Anna also provides English and Polish materials for those interested in learning the languages and has generously offered her continuing educational support in the form of online lessons once she returns to her teaching position for the fall semester.
Anna’s pragmatic manner has been a valuable resource and has contributed to the coherence of The Cross Border House.
Jordan joined us from Houston, Texas, in March, 2022. He came as a volunteer to help around the house with repairs (having extensive training and experience in HVAC) and parkland maintenance. His duties quickly multiplied to include driving, shopping for the kitchen, assembling toys for the children, leading us in a daily stretching class, and more recently, making delicious soups for dinner.
In the early days, when the Art Gallery was just beginning to take shape, his consultation was fundamental to its success. Jordan is both an artist and a former teacher. His experience as a professional guided our decisions to the realization of the project. He was vital in seeing it through to completion.
His talents are many, but his greatest contribution comes from his training as a Daoist priest, providing a sense of propriety, integrity and stability that proves most valuable to us during the day to day. He sees through the lens of one whose standards are not compromised or influenced by what is popular, and the principles he stands by are those in agreement with our philosopy of holistic care.
He is a great inspiration and driving force in support for The Cross Border House and its residents.
Thank you, Jordan. Your addition to the team is unmatched.