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Steamboat Magazine

Called to Serve

10/19/2023 08:00AM ● By Lisa Schlichtman
(Photo: The Tumminellos are pictured with another Ukrainian family whose house in Chernobyl was destroyed. They lost everything and were clearing rubble. Courtesy of Lisa Renee and Doug Tumminello.)

Steamboat Springs, CO - In the year and a half since Russia invaded Ukraine, Lisa Renee and Doug Tumminello have traveled twice to Kyiv to deliver combat medical supplies to frontline fighters and provide humanitarian aid to villages in the Chernobyl area north of the capital city.

The Steamboat Springs couple says their mission-focused trips to the war-torn country were in response to the human devastation they saw unfolding in the news. They couldn’t stop thinking about the people of Ukraine and felt called to offer boots-on-the-ground support.

“It had been stirring in us, wondering if there was something we could do,” Doug says. “I served in the Army during the Cold War and invasion by Russia of a neighbor is a violation of the norms that have been in place since World War II. We knew we needed to do whatever we could to help stand up to it.”

“We just went,” Lisa Renee adds.

Their leap of faith, as Lisa Renee describes it, was grounded in some key connections that helped the Tumminellos better hone their efforts.

Doug, who is an attorney and West Point graduate, had a classmate who worked for a medical technology company with an office in Lviv. Through him, Doug was introduced to a Ukrainian attorney in Kyiv who was part of a social network known as the Dead Lawyers Society. The group existed before the war, Doug says, but after the invasion, its mission changed. Some of the lawyers were fighting on the frontlines and others started investigating war crimes.

“It was a natural fit for us to meet with them,” Doug says. And from that meeting, the Tumminellos discovered an immediate need for combat medical gear like tourniquets, clamps, chest seals and bandages.

The Tumminellos also connected with an Assemblies of God Church in Kyiv through their involvement with Steamboat Christian Center. They partnered with ICA Kyiv and traveled to the northern villages, guided by the interim wartime pastor and other church members, to hand out food, blankets, clothing, fuel, flashlights and prayers. Among the items delivered were three duffle bags-worth of new fleece jackets donated by SCC. The coats were greatly appreciated, especially since people received them during a bitterly cold Ukrainian winter.

(Photo: This multi-generational family, including several children, a mother, father and grandmother, evacuated at the outset of the invasion. Their home, pictured, was destroyed by ariel bombardment or missile fire. Remarkably, the family dog in the image was later found hundreds of kilometers away in southeast Ukraine, identified by an ear chip. The family was clearing rubble in hopes of rebuilding and was living in a FEMA-style trailer in the meantime. Courtesy of Lisa Renee and Doug Tumminello.)

“What you learn by being there is the people are so committed,” Lisa Renee says. “Whether it’s a church organization or the medics or the lawyers, they’re all in it together. The church is getting combat medical gear to the front lines, and the lawyers are raising money to rebuild hospitals and operating rooms. It’s very woven and phenomenal what they’re doing.”

While there, the Tumminellos say they didn’t believe they were in undue danger, but they did spend multiple hours in the air raid shelter at their hotel in Kyiv. In line with what Doug calls the Ukrainians’ “very funny” sense of humor, when the air raid app signaled an all-clear, it ended with the notification, “May the force be with you.”

And while the devastation they encountered was 10-fold what they had seen on the nightly news, Doug and Lisa Renee say it was the stories of survival, hope, resilience and determination that touched their hearts and shouted the loudest.

“It’s easy to dwell on the destruction but they don’t, and we don’t,” Lisa Renee says.

“Part of all of it, for us, was saying, ‘hey, the world is still here, and the world sees you. Here we are.’ And so many times, they said, ‘just please tell our stories. Just please make sure that we’re not forgotten,’” Doug adds.

The Tumminellos returned to Ukraine at the end of July. With each visit comes change, and the couple has learned to be flexible.

Their exact plans were still in flux at publication but their intent was to head southeast to the Kherson and/or Zaporizhzhia regions. Kherson was recently flooded by the collapse of the Kakhovka dam, and Zaporizhzhia is home to a nuclear power plant that’s currently under Russian control.

“Our hope is to engage in relief work in one or both of those regions, working through the churches operating there, many of which have been damaged or destroyed by shelling,” Doug says.

“They are resolved to survive, win and rebuild, and they have the greatest quality – hope.”

How can I help? 
To support the Tumminellos’ continued mission in Ukraine, individuals can contact Doug or Lisa Renee directly about providing combat medical supplies to the combat medics. The Tumminellos can facilitate this avenue of giving and each dollar and item is immediately sent to units on the frontlines. For more information, contact Doug at 303- 881-1392 or Lisa Renee at 720-339-6924.

People can also donate to ICA Kyiv through the Assemblies of God. To donate online, visit