There was joy and sadness at the Vigil for Peace in Ukraine last night on the library lawn, where about 100 Easton residents gathered in solidarity. Despite the solemn occasion, friends and neighbors were happy to see one another and to support local aid efforts for Ukrainian refugees and soldiers. All were given a sunflower lapel pin, a symbol of Ukrainian resistance.

The program was organized by Devon Wible, Jenny Chieda and Whendi Cook in cooperation with First Selectman David Bindelglass, who alerted the Easton Police Department, Fire Department and Medical Emergency Services. Members from the three departments were in attendance.

The remarks were family-friendly in deference to the children present, but one clear message was “War is Hell.” Fervent prayers for peace were offered by Father George Coca of St. Dimitrie Orthodox Christian Church and Pastor Fern Blair Hart from Jesse Lee United Methodist Church. Father George led the gathering in the Lord’s Prayer and his church donated $500 to the Ukrainian cause. Pastor Fern engaged the group in a prayerful responsive reading.

The featured speaker was Annie Gnidula, the Easton teen who launched a GoFundMe page to help organizations who are meeting the needs of refugee children and families arriving in Poland in overwhelming numbers. She wondered aloud how it must be for young people caught up in the maelstrom. “When will they get their lives back?”

Devon Wible, who hosted the program asked if anyone else wished to speak and Casimir Dobkowski spoke briefly and movingly in his native tongue. Oresta Bilous Olexy urged the attendees to support the Ukrainian soldiers who are in dire need of medical supplies.

Cards and markers were supplied to those who wished to send notes of support and encouragement. In addition to Gnidula’s GoFundMe page, donations may be made through Voices of Children, a charitable foundation that focuses on addressing the psychological effect of armed conflict on children, and CARE, an international relief organization.

Photos by Taciane Batista and Jane Paley

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