ALPENA – When war breaks out, most people don’t just jump into a plane to get close to it. But Kelly Bushey isn’t like most people.
The assistant instructor at Alpena Community College is best known locally as Dr. Bushey (pronounced Bu-Shay). Born in Alpena and raised in Ossineke, she is passionate about helping others. So when she heard about an opportunity to help women and children who had fled their native Ukraine as refugees, she wanted to help them in person.
“I spent the Easter holidays,” she noted. “I went there with the intention of helping mothers and children who had to flee their country from Ukraine. And I went to offer them hope and help and a safe place for them to express their emotions about what they were feeling.
She and Debbie Stout have partnered with the international youth ministry, Word of Life International, which has colleges and youth camps in more than 80 countries.
“For decades they have offered hope to children around the world,” said Bushey of Word of Life International.
In April, she and Stout traveled to Eastern Europe, particularly Romania and Hungary, to bring supplies, toys and support to mothers and children who had to flee Ukraine because of the attacks. Russians.
“We met mothers for psychoeducational groups with narrative therapy,” said Bushey, who holds a doctorate. in psychology with a focus on cultural diversity. “Art and play therapy was used for the children so they could begin to express their emotions in a safe environment.”
Most of the refugees did not speak English, so a translator was used during most sessions, said Bushey, who lives in Ossineke. Bushey had a translator for 10 years when she worked with children.
“They had left their country 51 days before I met them,” she said of the refugees. “So when I arrived, the war was on, and it’s still going on in their country.”
She said they left with very little but the shirts on their backs. The children wanted to pack bags with their toys, but there was no time or place for that. They therefore greatly appreciated the toys that the women brought.
Alpena Alcona Area Credit Union donated yo-yos and play dough for children’s art and play therapy. Bushey and Stout stocked up on hygiene products and vitamins like melatonin to help mothers get a good night’s sleep.
Dyma, a 5-year-old Ukrainian boy, learned to use a yo-yo. He also enjoyed playing with modeling clay and the toys presented to him.
Another kid didn’t speak English, but Bushey used a beach ball with a globe printed on it to break the ice. She was talking to the child, who marked Russia with an X. No words needed to be said. Message understood.
During one session, the women took the provided marking tape and wrote down their expressions of grief. These ribbons will be tied to the tail of a kite and raised for them and the country of Ukraine.
Bushey hopes to fly the kite at Sanborn Elementary School (where she attended school when she was Dyma’s age).
Bushey recently joined Alpena Community College’s history class remotely with political science and history instructor Tim Kuehnlein for an engaging and interactive discussion. Bushey was impressed with the student engagement and participation.
Bushey is a psychologist, motivational speaker and founder of Cherith Counseling & Conference Ministries. She is an Assistant Instructor of Psychology at ACC.
His main motivation for going to Romania and Hungary in the midst of a tumultuous war was to do what the Lord asked of him. She felt a call to leave, and she answered it.
“Cast all your cares on him, for he cares for you,” Bushey recited 1 Peter 5:7 from the Bible.
She knew that God would take care of her and the refugees in their struggle. She shared this scripture with them and they were grateful.
Friends asked Bushey before she left if she was scared.
She replied, “There is no safer place for me than in God’s will and where he wants me.”