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Grand Rapids to welcome new Ukrainian friendship city

According to the latest U.S. Census data, there are about 5,000 Ukrainians in West Michigan and this partnership will help foster that relationship even further.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The annual Grand Rapids Sister Cities Celebration and fundraiser is less than a week away.

Mayor Rosalynn Bliss is expected to make an exciting announcement during the event: Grand Rapids will be welcoming a new friendship city in Ukraine, a country that has been at war with Russia for more than a year.

According to the latest U.S. Census data, there are about 5,000 Ukrainians in West Michigan. This partnership will help foster that relationship even more.

“They come knowing that there is already connection established between their motherland and Grand Rapids. So come in knowing that there is a support structure here, that their connections here really help people integrate into the society here in Grand Rapids,” said Oleksandr Kovalenko, founder of the Ukrainian Society of Michigan.

The fundraiser is hosted by Grand Rapids Sister Cities International, a non-profit organization that makes connections between Grand Rapids and its six sister cities.

There are several benefits to having sister cities. It shows the rest of the world that Grand Rapids is a welcoming place.

“There's also opportunities to get to know people, to understand the similarities that we have with people around the world and promote exchanges in educational programs, economic programs and other efforts with those cities,” said Leonardo Tombelli, President of Grand Rapids Sister Cities International.

Grand Rapids has six sister cities in Poland, Japan, Ghana, Italy, South Korea and Mexico.

Money raised from the fundraiser are distributed equally among the sister cities to support exchange programs throughout the year. The event is June 7 from 6-9 p.m. at the JW Marriott.

For more information, click here.

To contact the Ukrainian Society of Michigan email ukrainiancommunitygr@gmail.com.

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