By Dana Robin Goldman, Mayor
(Friday, April 8, 2022) – It has been just over a month since Russian attacked Ukraine. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the consequences of the attack and what that will mean for our country and our world. I’ve also thought a lot about our city. How we could have let this divide us; let our differing backgrounds tear us apart. But instead, our community rallied behind unity and peace. Our residents stood against the unprovoked attack and supported those fighting, fleeing, and surviving in Ukraine. I am humbled by the actions of our residents and all that they are doing for the people of Ukraine. From peaceful protests in our parks to donations to providing direct aid to refugees, I am reminded why Sunny Isles Beach is such a special place to live.
As you know, there is a strong subset of our population from Eastern Europe, including Ukraine and Russia. News outlets and outsiders have deemed our city “Little Moscow.” I’m sure you’ve seen many articles referencing Sunny Isles Beach as such. But when you are here –on the streets, eating in the restaurants, playing in the parks, at the school– it is apparent that we are so much more than this nickname fruitlessly assigned to us. Sure, we have residents from Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, and Poland. We also have residents from South America, Central America, western Europe, and North America. Our city is many things, but at the core, we are a multicultural, inclusive community that supports one another.
I am blown away by our residents’ response to the news of the attack. The generosity and unwavering interest in aiding Ukraine that we are witnessing is inspiring. Families are providing safe places for refugees to live. Our young students are welcoming Ukrainian children, who fled the only home they’ve known, to their schools with open arms and a helping hand. You are gathering and peacefully protesting for what you believe in.
And the City absolutely supports these efforts. At the March Commission Meeting, we expressed support for the democratic government of Ukraine by adopting a resolution, standing in solidarity with the innocent and peaceful people, and condemning Vladimir Putin’s invasion and acts of war. Last month we partnered with Global Empowerment Mission and were able to collect enough provisions, from non-perishable foods to hygiene items to clothing, to fill nearly two SIBshuttle buses. The City also partnered with the Russian American Bar Association of Florida to host two events assisting Ukrainian refugees with the legal process to seek Temporary Protected Status. Our own Chabad Russian Center, led by Rabbi Kaller, is using their network in Ukraine to provide transportation for those of all religious affiliations wishing to evacuate, along with armed security, food and medicine.
I want to wholeheartedly thank everyone who so generously donated and supported the Ukrainian people. If you are interested and have the means, I encourage you to donate to one of a number of non-profits that are providing aid to Ukrainian people. You can find more information on sibfl.net/ukraine.
There is strength in unity. And while we hope and pray that the conflict finds a resolution as soon as possible, I implore our community to continue standing strong together for the people of Ukraine.