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Okemos man is on mission to make sure people in war torn Ukraine have much needed medical equipment

Ody Norkin is on second humanitarian mission to deliver ambulances to Ukraine
Posted at 8:25 PM, May 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-05 18:44:52-04

EAST LANSING, Mich. — As the war in Ukraine continues, one man here in mid-Michigan is making it his business to make sure ravaged areas have access to medications and other lifesaving equipment.

He calls himself “a delivery guy,” but Ody Norkin is much more than that.

Officials with the Greater Lansing Jewish Federation say there’s a Yiddish word for a man like him. It’s "mensch," which means good person.

Norkin is vice president of Michigan Flyer, a transportation service that takes passengers between East Lansing, Brighton, Ann Arbor and Detroit Metro airport.

He is originally from Ukraine and came to the states in the '70s to attend Michigan State. His grandparents were killed during the Holocaust trying to find their way to safety.

“My grandparents were refused in 1941. The Russians did not allow them to board the evacuation trains to a Siberian work camp. They were deemed to old to work. Hence they were left behind and we lost them," Norkin said.

So, when Norkin watched the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he felt compelled to do something to help people trying to get out of harm’s way.

Now he’s performing what Jews call a mitzvah, a good deed.

“We started as kids at Hebrew school learning that mitzvah is something that we do, and I don’t think its unique to the Jewish faith. I think its common to many people," said Norkin.

He reached out to a Jewish congregation in Romania to see if he could volunteer his transportation service but the rabbi told him there was something that was needed more.

“The rabbi who shared what’s going in Odessa with me said, 'We don’t need your transportation service but it would be extremely helpful if you show up with an ambulance,'" said Norkin.

Norkin managed to obtain an ambulance and deliver it. Now he is on his second mission to deliver another ambulance with the help of a Romanian man just as committed as he is.

Marco Maximillian Katz says Norkin’s drive inspired him to help in any way he could.

“To go the United States, to come back and to spend hours. Look, we drove to Odessa almost 24 hours we were on the road and drive during the night. It's not a very safe place to be...there can be surprises," said Katz.

Both Norkin and Katz say they will deliver the second ambulance to Dnipro later this week. Right now, its being outfitted with medications and equipment.

If you’d like to help Norkin perform his mitzvah of delivering ambulances, we have a link here: Ody Norkin's ambulance fund

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