Biotech Exec on Mission to Feed Ukrainian Refugees Reports From World Central Kitchen in Poland

NBC 7 first told you about Jay Ross after he raised several thousand dollars in donations and was just days away from his quest to the Poland-Ukraine border

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With no political agenda, just a desire to help, a local biotech company executive signed up for duty at the World Central Kitchens in Poland to feed Ukrainian refugees.

NBC 7 first told you about Jay Ross after he raised several thousand dollars in donations and was just days away from his quest.

"I created one of these volunteer vests. I wanted them to know that there were Americans over here supporting them,“ Ross told NBC 7 in March.

With just the vest, no command of the language or contacts at the Poland-Ukrainian border, Ross was starting to wonder if he would ever be able to help.

After a 90-minute drive from the airport to the border town of Porzemysl, he was pleasantly surprised.

"I worked multiple kitchens on 13-hour shifts. It’s exhausting cutting hundreds of broccoli and carrots in 34-degree weather. It’s not fun but I would do it again in a minute,” Ross said.

World Central Kitchen is set up at a number of border crossings providing hot meals to refugees. Ross says the program doesn’t cut corners or make sacrifices. Those in need get what they want and as much of it as they want.

Ross says at the Porzemysl refugee station, they are feeding thousands of people.  

The conditions there are harsh, accord to Ross -- cold temperatures and rain mostly. The camp is set up in a converted shopping center.

Between kitchen shifts, Ross helps transfer fleeing Ukrainians from the train station to the camp.

“I think that is probably the biggest surprise and shock was hearing how difficult their lives were over the last month before they got out, “ Ross said.

Ross also spent hours on the cleaning crew and carrying heavy bags of belongings for those who can no longer do it themselves.

He spent four days working in the children’s camp trying to invent games to keep the little kids occupied and help the teenagers feel more comfortable about where they are going.

"They seem sad. Everybody is sad. There is a lot of tears here,” Ross said.

NBC 7 asked Ross if leaving his home and family for two weeks to volunteer was worth it.

“Yes, unequivocally it was. I really owe a lot to my wife, my family and daughters for encouraging me to go," Ross said.

Ross is no longer at the border. He is at the Jewish Community Center in Krakow. The cash donations he collected on his GoFundMe page have been paying for much-needed supplies there. 

Ross said the JCC is supporting 500 to 700 people a day. They have provided 40 tons of supplies to refugees since the war started. The shopping is done on Amazon.

 “We are keeping count of everything that we have here and whatever is needed we are able to buy for ourselves instead of what is available in stores," JCC refugee effort organizer Ryan Kaplin said.

This weekend, Ross’s next stop is a Warsaw orphanage. He will help where it’s needed and share more of the donations he collected.

 “I’m really tired. I’m exhausted, but a good kind of tired though,” Ross said.

For a guy who came with little more than the desire to help and let people know America cares, Ross will leave with the satisfaction of knowing it was mission accomplished.

Ross said he expects to return to California on April 20. He wants to go back to Poland this summer with his family but hopes that by then they won’t be needed.

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