Cooperative sharing site for S.C. Press Association members

The S.C. News Exchange is a cooperative news sharing site exclusively for use by newspaper members and associate members of the S.C. Press Association.  Stories, editorials and photos are for use only in member publications and websites.  Please use appropriate bylines and credit lines.

Here is the RSS feed to get updates when content is posted. 

To learn how to share content to the S.C. News Exchange,  contact Jen Madden.

Living on Purpose: The God who is more than enough

Dr. William Holland

Posted May 16, 2022

By Dr. William Holland

Many people today are struggling with the stress of everyday living and many feel lonely, depressed, and sad, but whatever you are going through today, be encouraged to know that God is able to take care of you. When we research the Hebrew name El Shaddai, we discover that it means, the all-sufficient one with all wisdom and authority and is commonly referred to as Omnipotent. It’s very important to know that both optimism and pessimism are learned behaviors which means that choosing our thoughts has everything to do with our attitude and how we view life. Here are seven areas where we can believe and know that He is waiting to fill us with His joy, peace, and contentment.

  1. God knows: God is Omniscient and is fully aware when we are going through difficult times, our worries and fears, and even what we are thinking. Actually, He is the only one who really knows how we feel and we can always trust that He is working on a way to help us. There are 3 answers to our prayers; yes, no and keep waiting so, whatever happens, have faith that He is in total control and always has our best interest in mind.
  2. God loves: The love and grace of God is greater than all of our sin. Jesus died a cruel and painful death in order to save us from ourselves. The good news today is that when those who hear this gospel about God’s love and receive it into their lives, they can escape the torment of eternal darkness and be redeemed and transformed into a child of The Almighty. Read Romans 8:37-39.
  3. God cares: The Lord of all glory is listening to every word we say; He sees every tear and knows all the problems we are going through. Today He wants us to believe that He cares about us and desires to help us. He promises that His eye is on the sparrow which allows us to know how much more He is watching over us. He is sensitive and compassionate about everything that is going on in our lives and longs to have a close personal relationship with us.
  4. God provides: The Lord provides forgiveness, restoration, hope, and whatever we need, whenever we need it. Christ can give what no one else can provide, He is always on time and never fails! We can place our trust in God and believe with all of our hearts that He will do above and beyond all that we could ask or imagine. Philippians 4:19 says, “But my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
  5. God desires: God has a desire and that is for us to love Him and follow His voice. He also wants us to succeed, to be an overcomer, and to live an abundant life. Before we were born, He drew our personal blueprint and within this wonderful plan includes a destiny of victory and joy! He created us to be filled with His power and to walk confidently in His presence. Deuteronomy 31:8 says, “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
  6. God heals: The Almighty is the great physician and has all power and authority in heaven and earth. He gives instruction and wisdom to doctors; He creates medicines and knows the solutions to every health problem. God has the miracle power to take care of whatever we need perfectly and completely whether physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual. I tell people all the time that either in this life or in the next, God will heal His children perfectly and completely. In Exodus 15:26 God declares, “I am the Lord that heals you.”
  7. God delivers: Whatever the bondage, temptation, or situation, the King of kings can lift you out of your agony and set your feet upon a solid rock. Believe, absorb, and allow His truth to set you free! Psalm 18:2-3 reminds us, “The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so, shall I be saved from my enemies.”

Read more about the Christian life at

This content is being shared through the S.C. News Exchange and is for use in SCPA member publications. Please use appropriate bylines and credit lines.

Stuart Neiman Cartoon: The Leak

Posted May 9, 2022

By Stuart Neiman

This content is being shared through the S.C. News Exchange and is for use in SCPA member publications. Please use appropriate bylines and credit line

Living on Purpose: Man shall not live by bread alone

Dr. William Holland

Posted May 9, 2022

By Dr. William Holland

One of the popular topics that readers contact me about are concerns associated with food shortages and higher costs. I realize that no one has a crystal ball to see into the future, but we have plenty of websites that are encouraging everyone to stockpile food and water. The prepping movement has been warning the public for years to prepare for such a crisis and of course, many have created profitable businesses by selling everything a person would need if something like this were to happen. I’m sure many of you are like us that have friends and family members who have food and water reserves and my wife and I believe it’s wise to have some extra provisions in case of an emergency.

The prices of food and fuel are rising, and many families are feeling even more financial stress. I’m involved with a weekly food distribution ministry in my hometown where we receive food from area grocery stores and a local co-op 3-times a week, then we give it out to homeless shelters, the elderly, and those in need. Our team has a burden to make sure that everyone in our community can at least have something good to eat. It’s one thing to tell someone to be blessed and something else to activate our faith and make sure they have the provisions they need. Jesus said in Matthew 25 that when you give to the needy, you have given to Him.

We know that political wars and sanctions can disrupt food chains, as weather, plant diseases, fuel and fertilizer costs, and pestilences can also contribute to shortages. By the way, I’ve often wondered why governments pay farmers not to grow their crops. We read in Matthew 24:6 about the scarcity of food, “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.” And Revelation chapter 6 talks about a quart of wheat costing a day’s wage and implies there will be a time when war and famine will give way to inflation due to supply and demand. For those who love God, we know we can trust Him in the difficult times and that He hears our prayers and will provide for our needs. Paul related in Philippians chapter 4 about maintaining contentment and being at peace with God in times of need or prosperity.

There is an amazing story found in I Kings chapter 17 where God intervened for the prophet Elijah and miraculously provided food and water. The Lord commanded ravens to bring him meat and bread twice each day and also supplied him with fresh water from a brook called Cherith. When fear surrounds us and life feels uncertain, it’s easy to doubt that our Creator is really with us, but the same God who is with us during good times is the same God who is with us during times of uncertainty. This example should encourage us to know that He is always watching over us and desires to take care of us like we take care of our own children.

In closing, may we remember that famines and food shortages are not only about empty shelves at our local market, but there is also a spiritual famine happening today with God’s word and it will only become worse. Most people are not really interested in having their conscience being convicted of sin, but believe there is no such thing as a universal standard of divine truth. Even many religious individuals would rather listen to inspirational messages that compromise and justify living however they want. Things that are socially accepted today would have been an outrage in the Christian world just 50 years ago. Instead of God’s followers taking a stand and defending His foundational realities, the majority now makes excuses and negotiates to make everyone happy. II Timothy chapter 4 warned us this would happen, and it has. John 6:33-35 Jesus says, “For the bread of God is he which comes down from heaven, and gives life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that comes to me shall never hunger; and he that believes on me shall never thirst.” And in Matthew 4:4, “But he answered, it is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

Read more about the Christian life at

This content is being shared through the S.C. News Exchange and is for use in SCPA member publications. Please use appropriate bylines and credit lines.

Stuart Neiman Cartoon: Sean Hannity

Posted May 4, 2022

By Stuart Neiman

This content is being shared through the S.C. News Exchange and is for use in SCPA member publications. Please use appropriate bylines and credit line

Living on Purpose: Developing an effective prayer life

Dr. William Holland

Posted May 2, 2022

By Dr. William Holland

Prayer is a familiar word that we hear every day and is usually associated with something being wrong and needing to be fixed. I receive emails and texts on a regular basis from those who are having a crisis and call on me to pray for them and I certainly do. For Christians, being in agreement with the prayers of others is a blessing and responsibility as the power of God is increased and multiplied. For those who are not familiar with talking to God, it’s common for them to call others who they believe can plead with the Lord on their behalf.

It’s an honor for people to ask someone to pray as they trust this person knows God, but the truth is that everyone has the opportunity to be as close to God as they desire. This is not the most popular statement but nonetheless true. Prayer was never intended to be a last resort option that is used in an emergency like calling the fire department. The miracle of Christ being crucified and resurrecting from the dead, restored the broken relationship between God and mankind that happened when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden. God gave His Son so that we could be saved and communicate with Him.

To begin, we must pray for a desire to pray, for if we are not interested in praying it will not happen. Everyone does what they want and prayer will never become a habit until we become determined to make it a lifestyle. Designate a time and a place. When we become serious about spending quiet time talking and listening to God, our life becomes more focused, filled with meaning, peace, purpose, and confidence. We do not arrange our prayer time around our life, we must be determined to arrange our life around our time with Him. Learn all you can about self-discipline. When you make a decision about the best time and place to pray – stick to it! This will be much more of a personal challenge than you ever dreamed. Remember, the enemy will do all that he can to discourage, distract and prevent you from advancing in your relationship with God.

Open your Bible and ask Him to reveal His word. Prayer is not always closing our eyes and just asking for things. It’s a time of sharing our deepest thoughts with God and this includes giving Him an opportunity to respond. Listen intently and write it down. Silence is golden in His presence. Prayer has no substitute. Many have thought that attending church or listening to Christian music is our “quota” of spiritual nourishment. These are good but not enough. We can do all these things and actually grow distant from the Lord if we are not spending personal quiet time with Him. Prayer is our lifeline to His throne and the fountain of our joy. Prayer is progressive. When we decide to enter into this deeper walk with God we will comprehend the true meaning of praying without ceasing. The beauty and ultimate goal of daily meditation is developing a constant awareness of His presence. This is where we grow stronger in our spiritual wisdom and discernment.

Begin a prayer journal. The word of our testimony is a wonderful way to keep track of our burdens, petitions, and victories. What a faith-builder when we make a record of answered prayers and how the Lord manifested a miracle when the situation seemed impossible. Also, study about the armor of God. The Christian life is a battle and make sure you do not step into the front line unarmed. It’s no secret that the devil and His demons are not threatened with lukewarm religion, but they target anyone that makes a decision to pray. Our words contain power. Silent prayers are fine but praying out loud is even better. Confessing and decreeing God’s word is being in agreement with His will. He has promised in Isaiah 57:19 that He would create the fruit of our lips and in Matthew 18:18-20 Jesus speaks about the authoritative power of binding, loosing, and agreeing in faith with His desires. Prayer and obedience are powerful weapons. Yes, we have a nature to worry, be afraid, to wring our hands and speak negative, but this has never helped anyone, it only makes things worse. If we invest the same amount of time praying that we do worrying, we would see more of God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven.

Read more about the Christian life at

This content is being shared through the S.C. News Exchange and is for use in SCPA member publications. Please use appropriate bylines and credit lines.

Folk Medicine Remedies

Tom Poland

Posted April 29, 2022

By Tom Poland
A Southern Writer

Like the Black Crowe’s “Remedy, and its line, I need a remedy”, folks of yesteryear needed remedies and they came up with them. We call their aspiring cures “Folk Medicine.” Once again I’m writing about home remedies, folk medicine, and voodoo’s mixed bag of remedies and anti-remedies.

Removing warts and healing hexes—many folk medicine remedies are out there.

I’ve benefitted from folk medicine. When I was twelve, I had a disgusting seed wart on the knuckle of my left index finger. Dr. Weems Pennington, a legend, burned the wart off twice with an electrical instrument a bit like a soldering iron. The wart came back each time. I was working at Dad’s saw shop when a gent wearing a straw hat with a green visor spotted my wart.

“I can get rid of that wart,” he told me.


“I’ll show you,” he said. He went over to broomstraw and broke off a piece. He took my hand in his and rubbed the straw over the wart mumbling some mumbo jumbo. Then he broke the straw in half and gave me the part that had rubbed the wart.

“Go over to that grass and toss this straw over your left shoulder and don’t look at it. You wart will soon be gone. I did as he said and it was. It never came back.

When Dad was a boy, a swing hit his head, gashing it. His mother stuffed spider webs and soot into the wound to heal it and it did. Spider webs are reputed to hold medicinal qualities. Other quirky cures are out there. Got a nose bleed? Fold a small piece of cardboard and place it between your gum and upper lip. That’ll stop the bleeding.

In his memoir, Childhood: The Biography Of A Place, the late Harry Crews wrote about a large man who stunk. He smelled but the countryman could talk the fire out of a burn. Crews recalled a game, “crack the whip” that would introduce him to the fire talker. Crews and cousins were cracking the whip as a black kettle of water boiled at ground level. It was hog-killing time and pigs were quickly dipped in boiling water to make bristles easier to scrape off. As the kids cracked the whip Crews landed in the boiling pot up to his neck. A man pulled him out and set him beside it.

“I reached over and touched my right hand with my left, and the whole thing came off like a wet glove. I mean the skin on the top of the wrist and the back of my hand, along with the fingernails, all just turned loose and slid down to the ground. I could see my fingernails lying in the little puddle my flesh made on the ground in front of me.”

After a doctor’s visit, Crews’s family called in the fire talker. Crews said the man cursed the fire in every way imaginable and as far as his rancid smell, the hulking bulk replied, “A man’s got a right to stink.” I suppose he does. I, however, will pass on that privilege. Unscented works and an unscented remedy I came by works also. Ban Roll-On deodorant, unscented, dries up poison ivy rash pronto.

Akin to folk remedies are patent medicines. Granddad Poland wouldn’t be caught without his Doans Pills. They came in a small, green metal canister. Supposedly they relieved an aching back. He also kept Vicks VapoRub beneath his pillow so he could breathe better. Like Brylcreme I guess a little dab would do.

Voodoo priests have long treated patients with herbal remedies. These remedies consist of teas made of leaves of exotic plants to cure chronic pain and heal wounds. Just be sure to pay the priest or you may find yourself the subject of a hex.

Other supposed cures include copper bracelets, crystals, vinegar, and a blend of moonshine and honey. And if you suspect someone’s trying to poison your drink, just dip a fossilized shark tooth in and all will be fine. Yeah, right.

And Harry Crews? He recovered and went on to be the writer in residence at the University of Florida, blessing us with fine Southern tales.

Tom Poland’s website at

Email Tom about most anything at at 

This content is being shared through the S.C. News Exchange and is for use in SCPA member publications. Please use appropriate bylines and credit lines.

Stuart Neiman Cartoon: Give them everything

Posted April 27, 2022

By Stuart Neiman

This content is being shared through the S.C. News Exchange and is for use in SCPA member publications. Please use appropriate bylines and credit line

Living on Purpose: Walking a mile in someone else’s shoes

Dr. William Holland

Posted April 25, 2022

By Dr. William Holland

It’s easy to mock and be critical, and unfortunately our human nature loves to judge unfairly and display negative thoughts about others. If we could only remember that many people are going through some type of painful trial which usually explains why they seem peculiar. I often counsel with those who are struggling with personal problems and it changes our perspective when we know the bigger picture. As Christians, we are called to be a light that represents God’s nature and this includes forbearance, understanding, and compassion. This is so that everyone can see Christ and hopefully will inspire them to learn more about who He is. When we act ugly and rude, we are actually turning others away from the message of grace and love that we proclaim is what the lost world desperately needs. Whether you’ve noticed or not, those around us are carefully observing us which is having a direct impact on what they think about God and who we are. Every day we have opportunities to do what Jesus would do.

If we knew what is going on behind the scenes in the lives of those all around us, it would allow us to realize they do not deserve our harsh speculations and criticisms. I published a book a few years ago called “A lifestyle of worship – Living in the Awareness of God’s Presence” that focuses on developing spiritual sensitivity and how this discernment can drastically change the way we think and see life. I’m convinced we will not grow in our concern for others until we can see them the way God sees them.  When I’m focused on His presence and trying to do His will, I am more humble and understanding. However, when I’m distant from Him and allow arrogance to rise up, I gravitate toward being indifferent and cold-hearted. Rick Warren is quoted, “God’s mercy to us is the motivation for showing mercy to others. Remember, you will never be asked to forgive someone else more than God has forgiven you.”

I recently learned about an 8-year-old boy that experienced a horrifying tragedy. His mother had agreed to take care of a friends dog for a few days. The dog did not have a history of aggression and she did not sense any danger to bring it into her home. One day the little boy was out in the yard with the dog and suddenly out of nowhere the animal violently attacked him. The mother heard the cries and ran to stop the attack, but not before the dog had bit off the boys ears and caused very serious wounds to his head and face. It was believed that if the mother had not arrived when she did, the dog would have killed him. I watched an interview with the little fellow after the wounds had healed and he had such a gentle and kind personality. Those few seconds changed his life forever.

He is a smart and witty child and is surprisingly upbeat in spite of the devastating damage that he deals with on a daily basis. Where his ears had been are now just small holes on the sides of his head. The muscles in his face are permanently damaged and twisted which causes him to talk out of the side of his mouth. His eye socket was reconstructed and he is fortunate they were able to save his sight. As I listened in amazement of his courage at such a young age I was deeply moved and felt a tear running down my cheek. What a traumatic ordeal this innocent young man has gone through. He went on to say that he begged his mom to let him return to school and how the other kids will gather around him and stare at him like he is a circus attraction. He overhears them saying he’s scary looking and all that. I know kids are cruel and remember when I was growing up I watched bullies torture other children they considered were strange or whatever. I think about what this child has gone through and not only having to live with the outward consequences, but also the emotional agony from the insults and rejection. I Peter 3:8 reminds us to be sympathetic, to love one another, to be compassionate and humble, and this helps us to consider what it would be like to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.

Read more about the Christian life at

This content is being shared through the S.C. News Exchange and is for use in SCPA member publications. Please use appropriate bylines and credit lines.

Everything and Nothing: The curriculum we all deserve

Aïda Rogers

Posted April 25, 2022

By Aïda Rogers

In a parking lot in South Carolina, a family from Texas sat in their maroon minivan taking stock of what they’d just experienced. They’d waited in a restaurant 45 minutes before a worker told them they “weren’t comfortable” serving them. The reason? The family’s four-year-old. Isaya Pritchard, adopted from Africa, is Black. His parents, sister and two brothers are White.

Kaylen Pritchard, second from right, and her family.

This was June 2014. The Pritchards were visiting South Carolina, the state they planned to move to in August when Brad Pritchard started a new job in Charlotte. During their drive from Dallas through Georgia there’d been no problems. That stopped at the small restaurant in South Carolina, where the oldest child had been excited to try her first fried green tomato and what she perceived to be real southern food.

That child, the daughter, is Kaylen Pritchard. Now 18 and a senior at Catawba Ridge High School in Fort Mill, Kaylen won first place in the 2021-22 South Carolina High School Writing Contest with her recounting of what happened at that restaurant and why it should matter to anyone who cares about education in this state. In her essay, “The Curriculum My Brother Deserves,” Kaylen takes on Gov. Henry McMaster and the majority of the state legislature for their stance on critical race theory. And she quotes McMaster, in an interview with Columbia’s State newspaper, saying “… it seems to me that it [critical race theory] is certainly not necessary for the education of young people four years old all the way through high school.” To which she writes:

“My brother has been on the receiving end of the bitter teeth of racism ever since he first came from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the United States at eighteen months old. If my young siblings and I had to experience the confusion and fear of being turned away from an establishment because of one of our skin colors, we were old enough to learn about the deeply rooted issues that led to such manifestations of racism.”

Yeah, she went there. I’m going with her. Joining us, I believe, is Dr. Ray McManus, poet and professor, who judged this year’s contest. Presented by the South Carolina Honors College, the contest, which I coordinate, always asks the same question: How can we make South Carolina better? McManus applauded Kaylen’s clarity and writing style, particularly the way she transitioned from a topic that was personal to her to why it should matter universally, using facts and cited sources to strengthen her position.

“The writer does this with such poise for the truth that it becomes difficult to argue against,” McManus wrote in his judge’s notes, calling the essay “powerful,” one that “moves us toward a universal truth.” And that truth is that the issue of critical race theory is one of human rights, not politics.

“We must be open to learn from one another and to hear each other’s stories so that my brother and so many others like him can inherit a country where they are free to relish in the freedom and equality upon which the United States claims to be built,” Kaylen wrote.

So what is the truth about critical race theory? Learning for Justice, a department within the Southern Poverty Law Center, defines CRT as “a school of thought that explores and critiques American history, society, and institutions of power (including government and legal systems) from a race-based perspective.” The definition is longer, but I wonder how learning about the effects of racism and segregation on Americans of all colors could be anything but educational, no matter how ugly or uncomfortable its lessons. Kaylen wonders that too.

“In observations of people my age, the understanding kids have across the board of CRT is next to none,” Kaylen told me. “So schools need to do a better job teaching the history of the Black American experience and how it continues to affect the Black American experience today.”  

Happily, the Pritchards settled well into their hometown. Kaylen, a dedicated clarinetist and woodwinds captain for the high school band, loves Fort Mill, where several of her friends are international adoptees – from China, Guatemala, Russia, Burkina Faso. In Texas, many families in their church had adopted children from Africa.

“That’s why this topic is so important to me,” she said. “It’s clear we live in an increasingly global community and it’s important that we analyze the unique history of minority families and how it plays into modern events.”

Her mother, she reports, “is very wary” of letting Isaya, now 10, wear hoodies, especially at night. There have been family conversations about how her Black brother needs to be more careful than her White ones. She’s noticed over the years that people assume Isaya is better at sports than his brothers Josh and Andrew – and laughingly she says that’s true – but how they also assume Josh and Andrew are better at school. Isaya, she says, is “highly intelligent” and “right on track with his class.”

Kaylen doesn’t think those people are intentionally rude. “A lot of subconscious tendencies are a symptom of deeply rooted racism,” she said.

Sometimes, the racism is more overt, like the time she overheard a man sitting on a bench in a Charlotte mall saying to his wife, “why is that n-word baby with that White family?”

Upsetting as that was, it wasn’t as bad as what happened at that restaurant. In 2014.

Aïda Rogers writes from an old house in Columbia and a new porch in McClellanville. Her three-volume anthology series, State of the Heart: South Carolina Writers on the Places They Love, includes stories by 108 Palmetto State writers.

This content is being shared through the S.C. News Exchange and is for use in SCPA member publications. Please use appropriate bylines and credit lines.

Far from home: Ukrainian couple who fled war-torn Kyiv now staying with daughter in Hartsville

Posted April 20, 2022

By Bob Sloan

If Petar and Alla Rusinov seem a little distant when you first meet them, there is good reason.

The Rusinovs, now staying with their daughter in Hartsville, were forced to flee their homeland of Kyiv with little more than the clothes on their backs. Like millions of other Ukrainians, they were left with little choice after the Russian Army invaded the capital city in late February. Their lives, once peaceful and happy, have been uprooted and turned upside down by the ongoing war.

Petar and Alla Rusinov left their homeland of Kyiv, Ukraine on March 3 with little more than the clothes on their backs.

Sitting quietly side by side on the living room couch, Petar and Alla wait for me to ask them questions. They speak very little English. Their daughter, who was born in the Ukraine but left 20 years ago and moved to America to pursue college, serves as an interpreter.

“It is absolutely heartbreaking,” said Alla when asked about having to leave their home, family, friends and country. “The Ukraine is such a beautiful land with such beautiful, peaceful people. Why the Russians would want to destroy it I have no idea. It is so very sad.”

“I never in a million years thought something like this would happen,” admits Petar. “My colleagues and I never thought we would find ourselves in danger. In one day – 24 hours – we lost everything.”

Petar, 72, and Alla, 70, have been married for 42 years. For 30 years Petar has worked as an emergency room doctor in Hospital No. 7 in Kyiv. He was still working long shifts in the days before he and his wife decided to leave. Alla was a history teacher for more than three decades before she retired several years ago. The two of them lived on the third floor of a 16-story high-rise condominium in the northern part of Kyiv near Bucha.

“We lived a wonderful life,” said Petar when asked about life prior to the invasion. “It was a quiet, peaceful life. We were very happy. No problems. We were very comfortable.”

Petar said he remembers watching the news in the weeks before the bombings began on Feb. 24.

“We were watching television and everyone was saying there could be, there might be, it’s a possibility,” he said. “President Biden said war would start in less than a week, but nobody believed him.”

Now more than a month later, he still has a hard time believing it.

“One of my closest co-workers has two brothers who live in Russia,” said Petar. “His sister lives in Russia. How can a brother attack another brother who lives in Kyiv? It’s unimaginable. We never believed it, even though there were warnings out there.”

The War Begins

The story of how they were able to get out of the country is rather astounding, but probably no less astounding than that of other Ukrainians who were forced to flee. They consider themselves fortunate, knowing that many had no choice but to remain or had no other place to go.

Alla said she and Petar woke up on the morning of Feb. 24 and saw on the television news that the war had begun. Petar immediately called his boss at the hospital.

“I asked him ‘what help do they need?’ and he said ‘We know nothing right now,’” Petar recalled. “I got dressed and went to the hospital anyway.”

Between Feb. 24 and March 2, Petar worked long shifts at the hospital every day. He said special military vehicles would continuously bring in the injured and the bodies. His job was to assess each case as they arrived and assign them a color code based on the extent of their injuries.

“It was not pleasant, but it is what I am trained to do,” said Petar.

A curfew was enforced on Feb. 26 following heavy bombing in Bucha. Alla spent her days in a small bomb shelter with 40 or 50 other people.

“It was small and crowded,” she remembered. “It wasn’t much. We listened to bombs being shot down by air defense missiles. We could hear windows shattering.”

At night, she and Petar would remain in their home. Alla slept in the  bathtub while Petar stubbornly refused to sleep anywhere but in his bed. Both would sleep fully dressed.

“I will never forget hearing the air defense shooting down rockets and helicopters,” said Petar. “You could hear it and know it was very, very near.”

Alla and Petar both remember paint marks on buildings that signaled potential bomb sites. The paint would glow at night.

“The Russians would paint them to show what was to be bombed,” Alla said. “If it was glowing, we would put dirt on it trying to make it so that it could not be seen.”

The Decision to Leave

The Rusinovs eventually made their decision to leave. On the morning of March 3, Petar and Alla woke up early, packed a few things in the trunk of their tiny Fiat and left for the Romanian border to the south. They drove out of the city with several colleagues, creating a convoy that they felt would be safer.

“It was very hard,” said Alla, tears welling in her eyes. “I cried and cried. No baby pictures. We left everything. All that we worked for all of our lives. It was very sad.”

“It was very, very painful,” said Petar.

Petar said it took them three days to reach the Romanian border. They slept in their car and ate what they could.

“We were stopped several times at checkpoints where there were tanks,” Petar recalled. “I saw a helicopter shot down. I will never forget it.”

Once at the border, it took an additional 24 hours to make it through the border crossing and into Romania due to the sheer number of cars waiting to evacuate.

“The Romanians treated us with so much kindness,” remembered Alla. “They were all welcoming us and asking what can we do to help you. They were giving away food and clothing to those who need it. Such kindness.”

On March 8 the Rusinovs headed north to the airport in Sofia, Bulgaria where they had booked a flight. Petar was able to leave the car with a friend of a friend. They boarded the plane for a 10-hour flight to the United States with just a handful of items.

During a layover in Vienna, Austria, officials said Alla did not have her second required vaccine– which she in fact did have – and Petar was unaware of her location for several hours. Officials were finally able to find the required documentation and Petar and Alla left for the U.S.

Arriving in America

They arrived at the airport in Charlotte, N.C., at 10 p.m. and were greeted by their daughter and her family.

“We were exhausted,” said Alla. “Happy seeing grandchildren, but exhausted. It was a happy moment. We can smile about some of this now, but before all we could do was just cry. It is still sad.”

The Rusinovs are still trying to adjust. For the first weeks, Alla found herself continuously watching the sky.

“I think about home a lot,” she said. “I miss it terribly.”

She said the quietness is hard to get used to.

“It’s so quiet,” she says. “We are not accustomed to the country. Kyiv is a big city and things are always bustling.”

“This is very curious to us,” Petar admits.

It’s particularly hard for Petar, who lived a very busy life as a doctor. Now he finds himself with little or nothing to do nearly every day.

They are staying in a living space above their daughter’s garage, giving them at least a little privacy. The local Presbyterian church is helping them install air conditioning.

They find themselves reluctantly watching the television news.

“We watch because we want to know what is going on, but it is very hard,” said Alla. “It makes my heart cry.”

Petar said he has great respect for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and how he has handled the war. He did not always think that way.

“To be honest, before I didn’t take him serious at first,” admits Petar. “The first day of the war, however, I saw that he was a real man, and a real president, and definitely the person to lead the country.”

“He is a great man,” Alla said.

An Outpouring of Support

The Rusinovs are very grateful for the outpouring of support they have received in Hartsville.

“The truth is I didn’t expect to be welcomed this way,” said Petar. “People have been so wonderful here.”

“Random people whom you have never met before welcome you,” Alla adds. “They want a hug, ask what they can do and say they will pray for us. They are so thankful that we are here. The kind words mean so much.”

For the mean time, the Rusinovs are doing the best they can to adjust and to take life one day at a time. Their hearts, however, remain thousands of miles away in a city and country they love so dearly.

“I can imagine going back, but I don’t know,” said Alla. “Our future is so uncertain.”

Petar is much more certain on his desires.

“I want to go home,” he said without hesitation.

The Rusinovs and their family would like to thank some of the very special people who have generously donated to them and helped them in adjusting to life in Hartsville and the United States: The Thomas family, HCF Church, the Hodges family, Quality Auto Office Girls Team, First Presbyterian Church, St. Luke UMC, the Downey family, Fourth Street Baptist Church, Fork Creek UMC, the Worley family, Empire Audiology, the King family, the Logan family, the Lee family, First Baptist Church of Pine Ridge, the Smith family, and the Henley family

The Rusinovs have set up a Venmo account at “Peter Alla Rusinov” for those wish to assist them financially.

Bob Sloan serves as editor for Swartz Media, which publishes four weekly newspapers – The News Journal of Florence, The Hartsville News Journal, The Marion County News Journal, and The Chesterfield County News & Shopper.

This content is being shared through the S.C. News Exchange and is for use in SCPA member publications. Please use appropriate bylines and credit lines.