Larisa Svechin is the former mayor of Sunny Isles Beach. She’s been in Budapest for a week now, shepherding the refugees through the process of filling out forms, answering questions and just listening. I asked her what this experience has done to her emotionally.
“Well we’ve done a lot of crying here,” Svechin said. “You picture what it must be like for them, just sitting on a plane, wondering where it is they’re going to land, who’s going to greet them?”
Svechin volunteered through the Jewish Federation of North America, which has raised $50 million to help Ukraine and its refugee citizens. She told us the flow of people moving through Budapest to points beyond has gone from the thousands last week to hundreds this week, but she’s constantly busy and finds it all extremely rewarding.
“Sometimes I wonder if I get more out of it than I give,” Svechin said.
“It is our obligation as a human race to help each other and not just sit back and watch these things happen and expect someone else to do something,” Svechin said.
This is personal for Svechin and likewise for Shapiro.
She’s a refugee herself, from the former Soviet Union. Her family fled to the United State when she was a child.