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Kingston Realtor Carole Palmer opens home to Ukrainians fleeing war

As bombs began to fall with greater frequency and Russian troops closed in on their home in Kharkiv, Ukraine, a family made a heartbreaking decision: the mother and daughter would flee to the west of the country, then to Poland and finally to Canada, while the father stayed behind to assist in the war effort. Carole Palmer, a sales associate with Sutton Group – Masters Realty recently welcomed them to her community in Kingston, Ont.

“I wanted to assist in some way, so I opened my home to this amazingly resilient family,” says Palmer. “Olena and her 19-year-old daughter Polina, a website design student, arrived in Toronto on June 16 along with their senior cat Lexus. Their trip was almost 40 hours of travelling, flying and waiting for their flight.”

Olena and Polina have obtained work permits and are practicing English. Palmer says the effort of sharing her home with newcomers is minor, while the rewards for everyone are immense. 

This family’s journey is not all that different from Palmer’s ancestors, who immigrated from the Ukraine generations ago. However, this time, the modern world watched a barbaric war unfold on the daily news. 

“In the early days of the war, it was constantly on the news,” says Palmer. “As of late, there is little mention of it and often at times very brief. There are millions of people still suffering. 

Those who flee leave behind everything they know and have worked for. They arrive with one suitcase, leaving a place they loved and with little understanding of why this is happening. 

Every day, so many want to go ‘home’ but that is not possible.”

Palmer adds: “More than ever the Ukrainian people need support. Their struggle is heartbreaking from the limited one-time $3,000 incentive from the government, which is helpful but doesn’t go far, notably when rent is too high. It is challenging to navigate employment and culture shock and deal with the trauma of their experiences and losses. If you can help financially or open your home, there are some great sites on Facebook such as 

Canadians helping Ukrainians, as well as information through your local city sites.”