Samaritan Ministries in Ukraine (SMU) is an international non-profit organization committed to helping people less fortunate than ourselves. It is located in the Zhitomir Region, approximately 100 km from Kiev.
Alex serves as national director. He grew up in a devout Catholic home. His father always wanted him to be a priest. In 2004, when Alex became the national director, he said, “My father doesn’t know it, but now I am a priest.”
What he meant is that he had become a Samaritan. He recalls that once when he was traveling a lonely country road at night, he came quite unexpectedly on a man lying by the side of the road. The man was dead drunk. Alex stopped to tend to his needs and then took the man to his home in a nearby village. “Prior to becoming a Samaritan,” Alex said, “I never would have stopped. I simply would have passed by on the other side.”
Alex’s main responsibility is to oversee the work, guard the vision, mission and values of SMU, and serve as liaison between SMU and its parent organization, Good Samaritan Ministries in Beaverton, Oregon.
Nadia is director of the Pulin Community Center in Pulyny. In addition to her role as administrative assistant, Nadia serves as a Samaritan trainer — “a trainer of trainers” with children, teens and adults. She has a degree in economics and worked for a number of years as a book keeper, but her true passion has always been working with people. She coordinates and facilitates the various programs at the Center, including the Widow’s House.
Vika is director of the Samaritan Counseling Center in Zhitomir. After completing an MA degree in education, Vika was a stay-at-home Mom. That changed dramatically in 2010 when Vika came to the US for counselor training. Almost immediately, she discovered she was a natural. Upon her return, she enrolled in the Kiev Family and Counseling Training Center. She now oversees the counselor training program, offers seminars on a wide variety of subjects, and does individual counseling.
Samaritan Ministries in Ukraine (SMU) was founded in 1993 on the third floor of the Hotel Zhitomir by Donald N. Miller, a retired pastor and seminary educator. Galina Bidenko, who worked at the hotel as a “key lady,” served as its first national director.
The mission was initially established to minister to “the poorest of the poor” in the former villages of the founder’s ancestral home. On the occasion of its founding, God said, “This is going to be a miracle work.” It has become just that. Today the work has expanded to include a wide variety of social and spiritual ministries in the entire region.
SMU works in cooperation and concert with its parent organization, Good Neighbor Network in Portland, Oregon, USA, and in partnership with Humanitarian Aid Response Teams in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
We are governed by a duly-elected national Board of Directors in Ukraine. Nancy Miller as Executive Director, and a support team that helps to facilitate the work in the US and Canada.
We are committed to working alongside other organizations, churches, and individuals, who are in general agreement with our vision, mission, and values.
We are responsible in the use of our financial resources. We make every penny count, partner with other organizations to maximize our efforts (no sense in re-inventing the wheel if we can benefit from each other), keep our overhead at a minimum, conduct annual staff evaluations, systematically evaluate the effectiveness of our programs, and acknowledge donations in a timely manner.
We are committed to training and empowering the nationals to take ownership of the work with a view toward self-sustainability.
Our work is located primarily in the Zhitomir region of Ukraine, approximately 100 km southwest of Kiev.
Ukraine is located in Eastern Europe. It is about the size of Texas. The population is 42 million. It is one of the few countries in the world where the death rate is higher than the birth rate due primarily to the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. The red circle on the map indicates the primary location of our ministry. The national office of SMU is located in Zhytomyr. It also serves as our Samaritan training center.