VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — You may not realize how much the conflict between Ukraine and Russia reaches into Hampton Roads.
It actually could affect the job situation on the Oceanfront as COVID did the past two years.
In fact, a man who helps to recruit Eastern Europeans to come to America for summer work is currently sheltering in Ukraine.
Teresa Ottofaro-Devries has helped thousands of J-1 students from Ukraine get jobs here in Hampton Roads. When the bombings started as Russian forces invaded the country, she immediately reached out to her Ukrainian colleagues.
Ottofaro-Devries read us messages from one student who’s spent time in Hampton Roads and is stuck in Kyiv.
“It’s too late for us to get out safely so we’re huddled down in our basement each night praying. She said she’s just praying for peace and calm,” Ottofaro-Devries said.
She also showed us messages from a Ukrainian J-1 visa and exchange program recruiter currently staying in South Odesa. She asked us not to share his name until he’s in a safer location.
“Kyiv and Kharkiv are being bombed each day, heavy bombs and missiles,” Ottofaro-Devries shared.
The man’s wife, 20-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son have made it out safely to Romania. Since he’s under the age of 60, he’s staying behind to fight.
“We’re here preparing for an attack from Navy warships that are staying in the Black Sea. Yesterday, the weather was very windy and it did not allow them to come to the sea coast,” Ottofaro-Devries read.
In another message, Ottofaro-Devries read from her colleague, she told us he doesn’t know what to say about Putin and that he is mentally ill.