Ukrainian refugee family shares special Thanksgiving in home of Santa Monica family


In April, a Santa Monica family opened their home to a family of Ukrainian refugees amid turmoil in their country. Now, after months of learning from one another, Thanksgiving Day brought them even closer.

"I am so happy that I am here with these people and be grateful that they exist and that they were born on this Earth," said 16-year-old Mark Molot of Ukraine, who has been adapting well to life in the U.S.

Molot, his mother, brother, uncle and his uncle's girlfriend reunited Thursday with the family of Andy Lauer.

Nearly a year ago, the family fled their war-torn country, finding peace and safety in Los Angeles thanks to the Lauers and the community's support.

"Just seeing the looks on their faces ... lost, unsure of what was happening next," said Lauer. "Now, when I see them back at our table, it's just ... it's such a cool feeling knowing that I see peace in their eyes and in their smile."

READ MORE | Ukrainian refugee family finds shelter and safety in home of Santa Monica family

Forced to flee their homeland as Russian soldiers invaded, a Ukrainian family who crossed border after border has finally found shelter and safety in the home of a local family in Santa Monica.

Each family learned a lesson about the human spirit and Molot said through difficult times, he never gave up hope.

The L.A.-area community also pitched in to help the family with food, resources and financial assistance.

"I have Ukrainian heritage. Many of us were looking for what to do," said a neighbor.

The Ukrainian family now lives in an apartment in Canoga Park. Lauer said it was made possible with the help of a $20,000 donation from a well-known actor and comedian.

"I know I might get trouble, and they might be mad at me, but it was from the Will Ferrell family," he said.

The war between Russia and Ukraine has taken another dark turn recently, with parts of Ukraine and its capital without power and water following deadly missile attacks.

As the battle rages on, Molot's family is striving to carve out a life in Southern California, in hopes one day they will be able to reunite with his father, grandfather, sisters and brothers in central Ukraine.

"I want to speak with them, like, 'How is it going in Ukraine?'" said the teen.

Until then, both families will keep each other at peace, for Thanksgiving and beyond.

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