Couple from Ukraine finds support from town

Castle Rock community welcomes Olena and Kostya Plangeu

Maddie Browning
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 11/1/22

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, the country has suffered devastating destruction with 6.6 million people displaced inside Ukraine, and more than 6.3 million people fleeing to neighboring …

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Couple from Ukraine finds support from town

Castle Rock community welcomes Olena and Kostya Plangeu

Posted

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, the country has suffered devastating destruction with 6.6 million people displaced inside Ukraine, and more than 6.3 million people fleeing to neighboring countries. The war has also taken more than 6,000 Ukrainian civilian lives.

Olena and Kostya Plangeu recently moved to the Castle Rock area after leaving their home in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine. They first moved to Germany about seven months ago to stay with friends and relocated to the U.S. three months later with help from United for Ukraine. 

United for Ukraine — an international non-government organization working to provide emergency relief and help rebuild the country — provided the resources they needed to reestablish their lives in the U.S.

The couple’s 17-year-old daughter, Jenifer, is still in Germany studying violin at The Hanover University of Music, Drama. Olena said it has been difficult not seeing her in person, but they still call each other every day.

“She’s OK. We think it is good decision that stays there because we didn’t know how it will be in United States,” said Olena. 

Olena and Kostya owned an auto body repair shop in Kyiv until it closed for three months after the war began. It has since reopened, but the family decided to leave Ukraine, concerned about their safety. 

Their family members and friends are still living in the country, but many did not survive the attacks.

“Not all our friends alive now because of war. It was a lot of death,” said Olena.

Kostya does not speak English yet, but he is studying the language six times a week. He is currently working at a local auto body repair shop. Olena has been taking English classes in Denver and is still waiting on her employment authorization. 

Olena said everyone in the Castle Rock community has been very kind to her and her husband, eager to assist in any way they can. The couple recently started renting a home with help from the community. 

“A lot of people want to help you, very helpful and friendly and all understand situation, and everyone’s supporting us,” said Olena.

She said the best part of living in Colorado is feeling safe. 

The couple’s program with United for Ukraine lasts two years, and Olena said they feel an overwhelming sense of not knowing what comes next. 

“We can’t plan anything because we didn’t plan on coming to United States before,” said Olena. 

She said their future residence will depend on where she and her husband can find good jobs and whether it becomes safe to return to Ukraine. 

Olena said she is very proud of Ukraine’s soldiers as well as their president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, but the toll of war weighs heavy on her. 

“It’s the death of children. It must not be. It’s terrorism, I think,” she said.

The war continues to hurt people every day, and she said people around the world need to understand what is happening to her people. 

Olena said, “People must know.”

Local Ukraine couple; castle rock news; Ukraine war

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