ABA Jnl Report: Two part-time law students take last-minute trip to Poland to help Ukrainian refugees

After the prior story we just published this gives one some faith in humanity, there are only small crumbs to grab these days, so grab them we shall..

The ABA write

Sitting in traffic on his way to an evening class at the Temple University Beasley School of Law and thinking about Russia’s attack on Ukraine, Joe Hogan decided he would spend spring break in Poland helping Ukrainian refugees crossing the border.

“I’m seeing all this stuff on Twitter and the news and thought to myself, ‘I’ve got to do something,’” says Hogan, who shared his idea with Patrick Long, another Temple law student.

“Then Patrick said, ‘Flights are leaving on Friday,’” adds Hogan, who with his wife, Janita Hogan, traveled to Poland with Long earlier this month for one week. They want to return in June and help refugees find long-term housing.

Hogan and Long are in the law school’s part-time program, and both worked for the late U.S Representative Mike Fitzpatrick, a Republican who co-chaired the Congressional Ukraine Caucus and died in 2020. Brian Fitzpatrick, who succeeded his brother as the U.S. representative from Pennsylvania’s 1st Congressional District, now co-chairs the caucus.

Once in Poland, the Philadelphia group joined Long’s boss Paul Ritacco, president of the consulting firm Campaign Financial Services, where Long is a senior compliance manager. Ritacco, who had arrived a few days earlier, is a lawyer who served as Mike Fitpatrick’s chief of staff.

Initially, they went to the border crossing and handed out Trader Joe’s snacks and RXBARs.

“The RXBARs were the last items to be taken, which suggested to me that they are not widely known in Ukraine,” says Long, who is scheduled to graduate from law school in May 2024.

The group brought cash too and used some of it to buy coffee and tea. The border crossing was cold, and many refugees requested hot beverages once they got there, Long says.

Kim and Marco volunteers from Berlin Kim and Marco, a married couple and volunteers from Berlin, feed one of the many refugee animals. 


They also helped a Berlin couple who drove to the Poland-Ukraine border in a RV loaded with food, clothing and medical supplies.

“They were ready for anything. If a dog came across the border, they would open a can of dog food. One dog ate three cans of dog food,” says Long, adding that the couple also brought cat food.

Later in the trip, according to Long, Ritacco signed a two-week management contract to set up and oversee operations at two border spots with World Central Kitchen, a frontline response group that provides meals.

Long and Hogan rented a car and drove to rural parts of Poland to see if they could set up food stations in abandoned buildings near train stations. From those travels, they determined a housing crisis was likely.

“The first few days of the invasion, when everyone thought it would last for a few days, people made a mad dash to the border and Poles were taking in Ukrainians to stay in spare bedrooms. Now, they’re running out capacity for safe housing,” says Hogan, who works in economic development.

Regarding their plans to return in June, Logan and Long are in the process of partnering with an American nonprofit where people can donate money to cover long-term housing for Ukrainian refugees in Poland. They are also looking for a Poland nongovernmental organization for housing law and logistics matters.

“Our initial thought was to do short to medium leases, around six months, and identify landlords who are working with an NGO. I personally would like to go and check to make sure these apartments and townhomes are proper housing for people,” Hogan adds.

Both say their law school education guided decisions they’ve made helping Ukrainian refugees. For housing plans, Long says they’re thinking about things such as how to transfer money internationally, liability issues and Polish landlord-tenant laws.

“We may not have all the answers, but law school helped us ask the right questions,” he adds.