Maksim Chmerkovskiy has shared an update on his efforts to help Ukrainian regufees who have been displaced by Russia’s ongoing war.
Earlier this month, Chmerkovskiy chronicled his escape from Ukraine, where he had returned to film a television special just before Russia invaded. Born in Ukraine’s port city of Odessa, the 42-year-old’s family immigrated to the United States in 1994 when he was a teen. He became a U.S. citizen in 2019.
Now, he has returned to Europe to continue helping those in need. On Sunday, the “Dancing with the Stars” alum went on Instagram Live from Warsaw, Poland.
“I’m fine. I’m good. I spent some time at home. I enjoyed some of that Los Angeles weather. Saw my family, saw my friends, obviously spent some time. And we’ve been working. We’ve been working on tangible opportunities to help,” he said.
When he first arrived in Los Angeles, Chmerkovskiy said he felt “guilty” and “ashamed” for fleeing Ukraine on trains alongside mostly women and children, while men aged 18-60 were expected to stay behind and fight, despite his U.S. citizen status. However, he didn’t take long to roll up his sleeves and get to helping.
Chmerkovskiy added that he and his family had been working to expand Baranova27, a nonprofit for Ukrainian humanitarian aid that is named for the address where he, his brother Val Chmerkovskiy and their father were born. Since launching the organization earlier this month, its GoFundMe has raised over $141,000.
The pro dancer said he is also working with others in Poland and other neighboring countries to find creative ways to provide housing for Ukrainian refugees as they continue to flood the borders.
“These towns are running out of space. This is an actual problem,” Chmerkovskiy said. “A few towns already announced they cannot accept any more refugees. Currently where I’m at, in Warsaw, the middle of downtown, everywhere you go is Ukrainian. Everybody’s a refugee. I witnessed it today with my own eyes.”
He emphasized that, over the past several weeks, the devastation “didn’t not end, or slow down — it got worse in Ukraine.”
“I want everybody to understand what that means because everything that happened, happened fast, and it was traumatic and it was worldwide and everything,” he said. “But right now, it is getting worse. Humanitarian crisis is getting worse. People are getting hurt worse, there are more people hurt and there are more people affected.”
Chmerkovskiy thanked all of his followers who had helped, reminding them that these relief efforts would be ongoing.
“A lot of people still need our help,” he said.