Ukrainian Ice Cream Shop Owner Raises Money For Home Country
By Emma Duke, Contributor
Tetiana Friley, a Ukrainian woman who moved to Calgary several years ago, raised over $100,000 CAD through her business to help support her home country.
Friley is the co-founder of the popular local ice cream chain Village Ice Cream.
Friley moved to Calgary from Ukraine in 2013, a year after her husband Billy started the business. She says her family is still in Ukraine amid the ongoing war.
“My parents live in Mariupol, it’s a big city in the middle of the country. One of my brothers is in the military, so he’s fighting somewhere on the frontlines,” she said. “Another brother of mine and the rest of the family lives in Iviv.”
When the war between Ukraine and Russia started, Friley felt inspired to help her home country.
She says when she told her husband they needed to do something for Ukraine, her husband suggested they get their business involved in a fundraiser.
All five Village Ice Cream locations in Calgary participated in this fundraiser, where the business donated 100 per cent of proceeds from ice cream sales on March 6 to the Canada-Ukraine Foundation.
Friley says Village Ice Cream frequently participates in charity work but the result of the fundraiser shocked her and her husband.
“We thought we would raise $15,000, maximum $20,000, but we raised more than $100,000.”
We didn’t even know we could serve so many customers, it was a very unexpected outcome. It was a really amazing feeling, feeling like one big team and Calgarians doing something together to help other people,” Friley added.
The money that Friley and her husband raised for the Canada-Ukraine Foundation could be used for anything, Friley assures.
She says her and her husband receive weekly letters from Ukrainian volunteers that include updated lists of items that people in the country need. The lists include everything from underwear to high tech military gear.
Although she doesn’t know whether the donation will go towards clothing or gear for the military, she is confident that the money will directly benefit Ukrainians.
“I hope that it will be enough money to keep people safe. I don’t know how the money is going to get distributed but it’s for sure going to go to Ukraine and the people who are in Ukraine right now.”
Friley says that people in Ukraine don’t want to be refugees and they don’t want to leave their countries or homes, a point she realized for herself when she picked up a Ukrainian family at the Calgary International Airport. Friley’s friend, who is from Calgary, met friends at the border of Poland and brought them to Calgary. When Friley met her friend and the Ukrainian family at the airport, Friley says the family was in a state of despair.
“They were so scared and in such huge distress. We couldn’t calm the kids down and when we brought them home they just couldn’t stop shaking. I was scared, I didn’t know what to do with them…It’s very sad to see millions of people leaving their home country, leaving everything behind.”
This experience was just one of many that demonstrates how Ukranians are reacting to the war. People in Ukraine feel uncertain about their future, Friley says.
“They feel very scared and hopeless at this point.”
Friley says she hopes the war between the two countries soon comes to an end and people can return home.
“All my hope goes toward this, sooner than later, to end this war.”