Alumnus Finds Service Opportunities by Keeping Eyes Open

Brad Ulick g88 giving toys to refugee children at a shelter in Cesis, Latvia

By Stephanie Demorest g93, Director

Brad Ulick g88 seeks to redeem each opportunity the Lord brings his way. Just this month of October 2022, he traveled to Estonia and Latvia to distribute over 4,500 toys to Ukrainian refugee children. In a recent interview, Brad said he has been traveling to this area of the world with teaching teams led by Jon Sevall g68 since the fall of the Soviet Union. Brad’s family have long been trades and craftsman, and his family are Ukrainian. (His grandfather was even a Cossack!) So, when the chance came to continue to travel to Estonia to help with construction of church buildings and additions, he was well suited for the task. His most recent trip to Estonia is his 9th over the last 16 years and provided him a new adventure in helping people in need – giving toys to displaced Ukrainian refugee children.

As a former Marine, and through his current role as District Vice Commandant for the Department of Indiana Marine Corps League, Brad was approached by one of his Detachments with leftover toys that came in through Toys for Tots, that the organization wanted to donate to the children of Ukraine. He received these donations for a new campaign, “Department of Indiana Toys for Ukraine.” Oftentimes relief organizations are so busy providing food, clothing, and basic life needs to refugees that other types of aid are easily missed. It is said Marines are good at two things, raising the American flag in battle and giving toys to kids.  So many of the Ukrainian refugees in Estonia and the surrounding areas are children, and these “kids just need a chance to be kids,” says Brad. Receiving a toy might be just as important to an individual child as the other essentials represented by food and clothing.

Brad and fellow Marine Chris Grendys, along with Rick Dugan g91, supplying the Baptist Union Church in Riga, Latvia

Estonia is second only to Poland in its number of Ukrainian refugees, with Poland at 69,000 (out of their population of 70 million) and Estonia at 65,000 (out of their population of 1.3 million). Brad’s connection with Rick Dugan g91, working in Latvia, also opened the door for him to distribute a portion of the toys there as well. Brad was in the right places at the right time, and as he followed after the leading of God, he witnessed other people getting involved along the way. Everybody wanted to be part of this toy distribution! Even with many willing donors, there is still opportunity for you to give if you want to help cover the expenses for Brad’s recent trip. You can visit this website and click on the “Donate Now” button under “Help Our Cause for Ukraine.” You can also participate in this type of ministry simply by giving locally to Toys for Tots.

Another prime opportunity Brad has discovered to serve others has been in cleaning veteran headstones at Rice Cemetery in Elkhart, Indiana. Over the last year and with additional volunteers he recruited, Brad has cleaned 625 headstones at Rice and has 35 remaining. They do not clean family headstones, but only those provided by the Department of Defense, marking the graves of service men and women, i.e. those owned by the Veterans Administration. As part of the Honor Guard that provides the salute at veteran funerals, Brad noticed that these headstones needed attention. He approached the cemetery director, obtained instruction from the VA, and set to work completing a task that honors the memory and families of those who gave their lives in service to their nation.

As a graduate of Fort Wayne Bible College, Brad Ulick has a heart of service that has led him to use his unique background and talents to show the love of Christ. In his own words, Brad says, “As long as we walk with our eyes open, God provides the opportunities.” Serving the Lord in these ways gives his life purpose. Combat injuries totally disabled Brad, but instead of sitting still and doing nothing, he consistently seeks ways to make this world a better place.

Preparing to hand out toys to 400 Ukrainian refugee children with Father Roman Kikh of the Ukrainian Orthodox Catholic Church in Tallinn, Estonia

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