HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. — A Ukrainian refugee family living in North Carolina met the young bakers who raised money for the group that helped them escape war. 


What You Need To Know

Young bakers raised $1,800 for a group helping Ukrainians escape war

The Sentinel Foundation helped the Pavelchuk family evacuate Ukraine and go to Poland

The Pavelchuks met the bakers and the group that came to their rescue 


Ella Shelley and Ava Cipriani met Tetiana and Ivan Pavelchuk and their four daughters at a Huntersville bowling alley earlier this fall. 

“It’s almost life-changing to be honest,” Shelley said. 

In March, Shelley and Cipriani hosted a cupcake fundraiser for the Sentinel Foundation. In Ukraine, the nonprofit is run by former military aimed to prevent displaced people from becoming trafficking victims. 

“You have millions of people that are right for trafficking, to be sold in the slave labor ... so we absolutely try to get ahead of it,” Sentinel Foundation Co-Founder Jameson Govoni said. 

Shelley and Cipriani raised $1,800 for the cause, which in turn benefited Tetiana and Ivan Pavelchuk and their four daughters. The Sentinel Foundation learned about the Pavelchuks needing to evacuate their home country from one of their family members in North Carolina. 

The group helped them go from Ukraine to Poland. Ten months ago Russia invaded Ukraine and the war started. Since then more than seven million refugees have fled to European countries, according to the UN Refugee Agency. 

Through interpreter Davyd Dubchak, the Pavelchuks said they feared for their lives in their home country: "They wanted to make something of their lives. They wanted to achieve something. They wanted to live so they decided the best course of action would be to leave and you know give her children the opportunity they didn’t have."

The Pavelchuks are grateful the Sentinel Foundation, Shelley and Cipriani brought them a step closer to come to the United States. 

“Words cannot describe how we feel when two little girls go out of their way to help people in need. They should be an example to all of us,” Ivan Pavelchuk said. 

During their reunion, Shelley and Cipriani also taught the Pavelchuk children how to bowl and gifted them a bag with Halloween treats. 

The Pavelchuk family, Sentinel Foundation representatives and the Shelleys and the Ciprianis attended the meet-up. 

“This is a really special moment to see a family here in America after we helped get them out. It’s kind of humbling to see the work that went into it and you see these kids smiling, bowling with our kids, it’s a beautiful thing,” Govoni said. 

Volunteers who have sent over 25 containers of medical and military gear to Ukraine through Premier Inc. were also in attendance. The group gifted Shelley and Cipriani handmade dolls, bags and art made in Ukraine or by Ukrainian artists. 

Shelley said this experiences makes her want to continue giving back. 

“It encourages me to keep doing things like that,” Shelley said. 

The Pavelchuks received a Sentinel Foundation coin to commemorate them being a part of the organization for life. In addition, the North Carolina nonprofit gifted them $3,000 to help with the expenses associated with coming to the U.S. earlier this summer. 

The Pavelchuks moved to the U.S. this summer with the help of their family here in the U.S. 

If you are interested in learning more about the Sentinel Foundation, visit its website or reach out to Billy Cipriani at