PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — As people around the world watch the crisis in Ukraine unfold, it tugs at their hearts. Oleg Bortman said he had distant relatives in Ukraine and Russia, and watching the war unfold on TV was hard on him.
“It’s sort of where all my culture and nationality came from, so it’s very important to me what’s happening right now in Ukraine,” said Bortman, a real estate agent in Phoenix.
Bortman was born in Ukraine. “We came to America in 1979,” Bortman said. “We were Jewish immigrants. We were trying to get out. We had only two options, to go to Israel or to America, and we were one of the last families to come out.
Now Bortman uses his skills and connections as a real estate agent to help refugees. “I’m blessed because I have a lot of clients who are at different stages of their lives and at different levels of activity,” Bortman said. “What I’m trying to do is coordinate people who have connections in Europe with housing and jobs for Ukrainians.”
Bortman finds housing for refugees in places like Poland, Hungary and Spain. “I know that for the Ukrainian people right now it’s better that they are closer to Ukraine…because at the end of the day the people want to go back to their homeland,” Bortman said. “If you have accommodation, any part of Europe is great, but the closer you are to the Ukrainian border…it’s more useful for refugees.”
Bortman said he found so many families willing to help with second homes in Europe. “It’s amazing how big the universe is, but how small the world is,” Bortman said. “They always say the six degrees of separation for people. I know someone who knows someone, and it’s been amazing. Even the awareness of Arizona residents has been overwhelming. I’ve had so many people calling me, emailing me, and texting me.
He even compiles a list of people in Arizona who would be willing to house refugees. “I created a big spreadsheet of people who donated, so people even from Yuma, Phoenix, from all parts of the Valley reached out to me, offering their homes,” Bortman said.
Bortman said you can email him at [email protected] if you want to help.
Copyright 2022 KTVK/KPHO. All rights reserved.