Russia-Ukraine Crisis

Miami Beach Man on Front Lines of Efforts to Help Ukrainian Refugees

Arnie Weiss gives a look into the effort to help refugees in Košice, Slovakia

NBC Universal, Inc.

A Miami Beach man is on the front line of the humanitarian effort in Ukraine, helping thousands of people who have been forced out of their homes.

Arnie Weiss spoke to NBC 6 through Zoom from the main train station in Košice, the second-largest city in Slovakia.

His roots in South Florida run deep, having grown up on Miami Beach. He and his wife Silvia are part of the lifeline, the rescue group, helping Ukrainians forced from their homeland because of the Russian invasion.

During the interview, he flipped the camera and gave a walking tour of what the train station looks like. Hundreds of Ukrainian refugees had just arrived.

At one point, Weiss showed a group of children surrounding a man making balloon animals.

“You can see over here, this gentleman has literally been entertaining kids for days.  He just sits here and makes balloon animals, and these kids, literally when they first come in, they look completely shocked,” Weiss said.

Weiss and his crew have fed and sheltered thousands of people fleeing their homes in Ukraine. He’s part of an all-volunteer effort, estimating he’s spending about €1,000 a day.

One of the most popular spots at the train station is the food stops.

“These are our Goulash pots, we are making 5 to 7 huge pots of Goulash every day,” said Weiss, pointing to a giant vat of the popular soupy European dish.

“People who just spent days traveling, in the cold, this might be their first meal in a few days, a hot meal,” said Weiss’s wife Silvia.  

While the work continues on the humanitarian front, members of Congress warmly welcomed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who spoke from his country through a live stream, urging America to keep the pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin."

“All American companies must leave Russia from their market. Leave the market immediately because it is flooded with our blood," Zelenskyy said through an interpreter. "Ladies and gentlemen, members of Congress, please take the lead."

Silvia, a very talented artist, runs an art gallery representing artists from across Europe. Through their website, they’re accepting donations for the cause of helping the Ukrainian people. 

Proceeds from an art auction will go to support the relief for the people who are at the border of Slovakia and Ukraine.

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