Local business donates money to help Ukrainians

The owner of a family business here in Erie says the war in Ukraine is personal to him.

That’s because about 25% of its employees immigrated here from Russia or Ukraine, and most still have family trying to survive in this war-torn country.

reports Julia Hazel.

The owner of Berman Bedding says some of these immigrants have worked for him for decades and he considers them part of his family. That’s why he wanted to make a financial donation to help people who are suffering in Ukraine.

The owner says his company is more than just a manufacturer.

“We are a family business and we have always said that if you work for us, you are part of the family. It turns out that about 25% of our employees are Ukrainian or Russian, and as things escalated and got to where they are today, we believed that family takes care of family,” said Robert Unger, president of Berman Bedding, Inc.

Yuriy Kokhanevich works at the company and is one of many Ukrainian employees. He has family living near the Russian border.

“So far everyone is safe, everyone is fine… Thank goodness,” said Yuriy Kokhanevich, a native of Ukraine and supervisor, Berman Bedding.

He says being with the company for nearly 20 years has helped him in more ways than just being an employee.

“They helped me learn English and move up in the company, sent me to school, became a supervisor,” Kokhanevich said.

It was people like Yuriy who inspired the owner to do something to help… donating thousands of dollars to help people in Ukraine.

“We made a good donation to the Red Cross to help all people of Ukraine and our family,” Unger said.

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Yuriy says that since he left Ukraine and started working at Berman Bedding, he feels like home. He says he is grateful that the company he works for is doing something to help Ukrainians.

” It feels good. Many of them are going to be taken care of. It really feels good because I care about them, I worry about them,” Kokhanevich said.

Although it’s hard to have a family living in Ukraine, people we spoke to say they are praying and hoping the money will do something to help.

Gladys T. Hensley