Samuel P N Cook and Antonio Sclafani are organizing this fundraiser on behalf of Valerie Edmondson Bolaños.
Samuel P.N. Cook graduated from West Point in 2000. He went on to become a U.S. Armored Cavalry Officer where he served as the Regimental Adjutant for Colonel H.R. McMaster in the Battle of Tal Afar in 2005-2006 that was cited by President Bush as a turning point in the war. With a front row seat to history, Sam was responsible for the media messaging and writing the history of this campaign.
In 2007, Sam returned to Iraq as the commander of Crazyhorse Troop, 1st Squadron, 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment where he was cited in the Washington Post and Tom Rick’s best-selling book on Iraq for his novel counterinsurgency strategy that combined tribal negotiations and police trained parole system for a mass surrender.
When he returned from Iraq in 2008, Sam went on to get a Masters in Russian and Ukrainian history at New York University’s Jordan Center for Slavic Studies. He then went on to teach history at West Point from 2010-2013.
Sam founded James Cook Media in 2013 after leaving the army. The company is a storytelling marketing agency that focuses on growing then brands of authors and experts around the world. Here he created the StoryMatters mini-course with over 100,000 subscribers as well as the StoryMatters Podcast.
In 2019, he founded SanityDesk, a full-stack software solution for experts and small service businesses to launch and manage their business online. SanityDesk is funded by Angel investors and is rapidly becoming an innovative solution for savvy marketing professionals who help small business owners grow their brand online.
In 2022, rigth after invasion of russian army to Ukraine happened, Samuel founded Borderlands Foundation.
Russ Brag was born in Kharkov, Ukraine and raised in the New York area. He graduated from Pace university in New York with a major in Finance and a minor in Economics. He worked for BlackRock Financial management from 2004 to 2012 and trained over 50 people for the company while living in London, Edinburgh, Mumbai and New Delhi. After leaving BlackRock, he created a Medical Company and operated a Food & Beverage consulting firm. Currently, he operates his own construction and Real Estate firm based in New York. He brings a wealth of knowledge from different industries and has been someone who dedicated his free time to people in need his entire life.
Natalia, is an innovative business developer, philanthropist, five-lingual & multicultural energetic and results driven professional with a record of solid achievement in multiple industry sectors on an international level. Successful connector in Global Real Estate transactions, Development and Construction. Born in Kiev, Ukraine, raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Montreal, Canada. Natalia travelled over sixty countries and worked in Canada, USA, China, Italy and France. She is fluent in English, Spanish, French, Russian and Ukrainian. Driven by her formidable work ethic and self-discipline, she was determined to succeed on her own and launch several enterprises. At this moment Natalia, invests in real estate in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Montreal. Natalia has grown a well-established network that includes industry clients from all around the world. She specializes in investment sales & business development internationally from small to bigger assets. An Avid believer in helping others succeed and contributing to charities she raises funds and volunteers with different organizations dedicated to women’s rights, immigration, social justice, poverty, etc. Philanthropist at heart she wanted to turn her passion for love, kindness, and compassion into business ventures that would make the world a better place.
My name is Sam Cook, the co-founder, and CEO of a Tech Startup from the U.S. with our main office based in Kyiv, Ukraine.
On 24 February at 4 am Eastern European Time, 190,000 Russian Soldiers invaded Ukraine.
Because of warning signs of the pending invasion, our team had prepared for this by moving a lot of our staff outside Ukraine before the invasion.
We originally launched our GoFundMe campaign to help us cover the costs of evacuating our own team.
Once the invasion started, we went to work evacuating the rest of our team members from the conflict zone in Ukraine.
Because we had raised more money than we needed to evacuate our own team, we then started to help friends and family members also evacuate from the country.
With the extra money we had leftover from our initial GoFundMe campaign, we decided to set up an entire team from our company that would help other people in Ukraine who were trying to flee to safety.
When the war started, I also decided to start broadcasting an update about the situation in Ukraine for our family, friends, and customers.
We created a YouTube Channel where we broadcast live every week called Borderlands: Stories from Ukraine.
Due to the popularity of our broadcast, and continual outpourings of support for our efforts, we decided to turn our foundation into a non-profit effort.
We are forming a non-profit called the Borderlands Foundation.
The purpose of the Borderlands Foundation is to help Ukrainians who are impacted by the war as both refugees, and those stuck inside the country in the conflict zone.
We facilitate refugee movements inside and outside Ukraine, and we also help deliver life saving humanitarian supplies inside the country.
We have a Fiscal Sponsor non-profit as our Fiscal Sponsor until we receive our own 501(c)3 status which is pending.
What started as a short-term evacuation effort, has since turned into a long-term project that we are turning into a non-profit.
Our mission is to become an enduring source of support for Ukrainians both during the tragic conflict they are enduring, and afterwards, once the long hard process of rebuilding their great country begins.
Here is a short history of how our project started...
The Borderlands Foundation started when I was the CEO of my tech company.
We started our urgent evacuation on 12 February after the U.S. Embassy warned of an imminent attack.
Here is a short video I shot from the Kyiv main train station on February, 12 February.
We moved the rest of our team to the west of Ukraine, close to the border with Poland, to bring our staff to safety.
Before we left, I spoke to each of my team members to help them understand the urgency and to help them work through all the questions and fears.
They had to quickly decide whether or not to leave everything behind to do the best they could in the interest of their families and themselves.
On February 15th, we still had 15 team members (out of 35) who were remaining behind in Kyiv or central Ukraine, as they have family members that they don’t can't leave behind who can't travel.
Before I left I spoke to each team member and warned them of the risks of the pending conflict, and helped them think through their choice of whether to stay or to leave.
We told all who decided to stay that we would evacuate them later if they needed to, but in the meantime, we encouraged them to stock up on batteries, gas, water, food and blankets.
After these tough conversations, I flew out of Ukraine with a heavy heart.
Our team has helped small business owners in the US and across the world to build and grow their online businesses. Now is the time to be there for them and their families.
As we began to understand late last year that Russia was gearing up for a possible invasion of Ukraine, we started making contingency plans for this scenario.
In January, I realized that we do not have enough money to bridge the gap from evacuation to re-location, and to set ourselves up to continue our work.
The political uncertainty was also impacting our business. Our Leadership team faced tough choices and had challenging discussions on whether we should lay people off or cut the salaries of half of our team.
We decided that we would do all we could to stand by them and not leave them in the midst of a crisis. We committed to supporting them together with their families through this challenging time.
That means that we avoided layoffs to ensure the safety of our team, paying for their salaries, evacuation, and accommodation, and re-establishing them and their families.
While I was traveling back to the U.S, I got a call from a friend of mine in U.S. Army Intelligence with a warning to our team members about what was about to happen.
Unfortunately, the worst case scenario came true a week later.
Knowing this was coming, I had returned to Warsaw, Poland to be with my fiance and my team for what would be a traumatic period.
On 24 February, Russian invaded Ukraine.
The first day was full of shock, disbelief, lots of frantic conversations with team members, and some tears on all sides.
When we launched this effort, our original goal was to launch a small GoFundMe campaign just to help our team relocate to safety.
But as of 26 February, we have managed to get most of our team to safety, and we are able to support those who are in the war zone and cannot work due to the demands of the conflict.
Since that time, we have learned a lot of lessons about how to get people to safety, and others have approached us about helping them get out.
Due to outpouring of support and admiration for the heroism of the Ukrainian people in this struggle, a lot of people have asked to help more.
So we are launching a site called the Borderlands Project to tell the story of the conflict and allow people to donate to help Ukrainians in need.
We have also moved 14 members of my Tech company over to a full time operation with 24/7 livechat support to help people who are in a conflict zone and need advice, or to those who have made it West and need to get to safety.
We are also helping these people relocate to safe locations in Poland or other countries. and paying for their transportation and lodging once they get there.
The money you are donating to this is designed to cover the costs of serving all those in Ukraine who need help inside the conflict zone, or those who are relocating as internal or external refugees.
The money you are donating will be dedicated towards the following:
* Food for refugees
* Temporary Lodging of refugee.
* Other Humanitarian Supplies for people inside the Conflict Zone.
* Medical supplies for people inside Ukraine
* The salary staff that is helping the refugees 24/7
NOTE: 100% of our staff are Ukrainian Refugees, so all staff payments are also supporting refugees.
We will continue to publish a full table of our expenses throughout and after the completion of this fundraiser.
We have formed a legal non-profit called the Borderlands Foundation that is dedicated to the continued support of Ukrainian victims of the war.
Until we gain our own IRS approved 501(c)3 status, we will be operating with the Fiscal Sponsor the Warrior Angels Rescue non-profit that is already a 501(c)3.
We look forward to continuing to build this organization into an enduring source of support for the Ukrainian people both during the war, and once the long, hard process of rebuilding the country begins after it ends.
Samuel P.N. Cook
Founder & Executive Chairman
The Borderlands Foundation