by Photo by Manuel Ocaño

When Ukrainians cross the border as refugees, they first experience Chula Vista hospitality.

For Ukrainians, "we help them at the border and, as soon as they cross, we bring them to our church to stay or stay with families from Chula Vista," Pastor Phill Metzger of the Calvary San Diego told Chula Vista Today.

"The first thing they know when they enter the United States is that in Chula Vista, we give them help and dignity," Metzger said.

While the Ukrainian families spend a few days with those in Chula Vista, the church helps contact their Ukrainian immigrant relatives in the United States.

The church assists them in buying tickets and taking them to the San Diego airport or train station to continue their journey and has served as a support center for a week.

The church is now urgently calling for volunteers.

Last weekend small groups of Ukrainians crossed the border. Still, from Poland, a corridor has been formed through which they come to Mexico, where they do not need a visa, then fly to Tijuana and cross the border on foot with humanitarian permits.

On Saturday, Chula Vista Today found more than 700 Ukrainians by the San Ysidro port of entry on the Tijuana side. They were in an improvised camp waiting to cross the border in shifts.

"We are sure that the flow of Ukrainians will increase. Those who have relatives in the United States prefer to come with them; Poland already has four million refugees," said Metzger, who was in Warsaw two weeks ago to coordinate aid.

While the church at 1771 East Palomar needs volunteers to help and house the Ukrainians, the help they most urgently need is translators and interpreters between Ukrainian, Russian and English.

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