MOUNT VERNON. Wash. - The suffering of teen orphans has compelled members of a Skagit County church to renew their bonds with their heritage.
From the outside, the 200 or so people who attend the New Life Christian Church in Mount Vernon are living the American Dream.
Only they're not American, at least by birth. They sing many songs in Russian; they hear the sermon in Russian. It's true they are living their dream. Nataliya Murza, mother of three boys, works as a nurse. Leo Datsky earns a decent living as an electrician. The reason they came here from the Ukraine years ago is simple.
"More opportunities for everything, money resources, things like that," explains Datsky.
They could look only forward and live the good life. But instead, they're choosing to look back, to see those still in their homeland who continue to suffer.
"It just kinda breaks my heart," said Murza. She still gets teary-eyed thinking about the orphans she worked with recently on a trip to Kiev. "You just feel lack of love. All they want is love, not even clothes, not even food as much as love."
Murza is talking about the young teens she calls "unadoptable." They have outgrown the orphanage and now live on the streets.
"The girls become immediately prostitutes, or somebody's sweetheart. The boys get into gangs or individually rob and steal until someone kills them," explains Alton Veil. The 77-year-old retired baker has dedicated his remaining years to improving the lives of street kids in Russia and the Ukraine, saying it is "the only purpose I have left."
Its no longer enough for Veil to travel there. Now, he wants to bring the kids here. "They need family and a start."
He's on a campaign, seeking transferable air miles and raising money. On this Sunday, he stood before the church making a plea.
"It is so bad for children who are on the streets and dying," said Veil.
It's more than just Veil, Murza and Datsky, but their whole church community making themselves vulnerable, hoping others like them have a chance to live their own dreams.
For more information on New Life Christian Church, go to www.churchnewlife.com.