Bringing Ukrainians and expats together roughly once a month, The Big Meet provides an opportunity for those in Kyiv to relax on a Friday evening in a stylish venue.

 

Owner Olga Kearley started The Big Meet as a community social gathering, but it has since grown into an important networking event for the city’s residents and visitors. It is also a key supporter of charities and other organizations helping those in need.

 

Since restarting in January following a pause, the Big Meet has held seven events supporting seven different organizations and charities in their response to the full-scale invasion.

 

This month’s event is supporting the organization Ukrainian Patriot.

 

Kyiv Post caught up with Kearley to find out more.

 

Where is the next event you are hosting?

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Due to popular demand, we’re returning to BAO • Modern Chinese Cuisine on Sept. 29 [more details here]. BAO was a pioneer of modern Chinese cuisine in Ukraine, founded by Héctor Jiménez-Bravo, a Colombian-born Canadian and Ukrainian chef, businessman, and television presenter.

 

You might recognize him from TV shows such as MasterChef Ukraine and Ukraine’s Got Talent.

 

 

This is a return visit to the same location within the space of a few months. Is there something that makes BAO particularly special?

 

There are a couple of reasons for our choice. First and foremost, our guests were very vocal about how much they enjoyed it here, and it’s crucial for us to heed their feedback.

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What made their experience? The atmosphere, unusual interior, an extensive cocktail menu, and, notably, the spacious bar area.

 

We’ve seen an overwhelming level of support from the community. When we restarted in January, I anticipated no more than 30 guests, but we've exceeded expectations with one of our recent events hosting over 90 people. Not every venue can accommodate and maintain such high standards for such a large gathering.

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Secondly, BAO has a strong social commitment, which holds great importance for me as the organizer. The owners have shown remarkable support, actively engaging in aid efforts, especially in these challenging times with the war in Ukraine.

 

Just to give you an idea, Hectors restaurants have prepared and distributed approximately 2 million dinners across the country. These are exactly the kind of establishments we are enthusiastic about supporting and will definitely revisit.

 

 

Most importantly, who is The Big Meet supporting this time?

 

I always emphasize that we meticulously choose the charities and organizations we collaborate with, taking care to personally get to know the teams behind them.

 

We are currently lending our support to Ukrainian Patriot. Our dear friend, Lana Niland [Founder & CEO of Ukrainian Patriot] has assembled a dedicated group of volunteers from Ukraine, the US, Canada and Australia – those countries where the organization is registered. They work tirelessly to aid those defending Ukraine and civilians caught in the crossfire.

 

What truly impresses me about this organization is that they go beyond simply sending funds. They are physically present on the ground, making deliveries every week. This proactive approach enables them to respond swiftly to the most pressing needs. Knowing this, people can be assured that their donations will directly impact the people in urgent need of assistance.

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How can people follow The Big Meet?

 

There are several channels you can use to connect with our community. The Big Meet has always had a strong presence on Facebook. Our Facebook page serves as a central hub, where you can find event updates, announcements, photos, and engaging content related to our gatherings.

 

We’ve recently expanded our online presence to Instagram, and our page is growing rapidly. There you can catch a glimpse of our events through event highlights and different reels.

 

Our community is incredibly supportive and plays a vital role in spreading the word about our events. People who attend often become our ambassadors, sharing their experiences with others. Word of mouth is a powerful tool for us, as these testimonials generate excitement and interest in future events.

 

 

How can people find out more about the organization The Big Meet is supporting on Sept. 29?

 

All information can be found on their website. There are options for a one-time donation or monthly support. You can also join their crew as a volunteer. The team is made up of incredible individuals generously sharing their time, talents and resources to support our mission.

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Whenever possible, supplies are procured within Ukraine to reduce costs and delivery time. When this isn't possible, they are expedited from international manufacturers and routed through their temporary warehouse in Lublin, Poland, before being delivered directly to the civilian battalions and humanitarian aid workers inside Ukraine.

 

Once again, an incredible team, making a real and tangible difference in the lives of those most affected by this ongoing invasion.

How can people help, besides showing up at The Big Meet? Can they volunteer, donate, or help in other ways?

 

Absolutely! People can contribute to The Big Meet’s mission in various ways beyond attending our events. We’re always on the lookout for remarkable partners and friends to join us. If you’re interested in being a part of our cause, there are a few avenues to explore.

 

Financial support in the form of donations is crucial for sustaining and expanding our initiatives. Donations enable us to organize impactful events and extend our reach to a broader audience, amplifying the positive impact we aim to create.

 

We also pride ourselves on collaborating with a diverse range of businesses, both large and small, from various industries. If you’re part of an organization or business interested in joining us on this journey, we welcome the opportunity to explore potential collaborations.

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Whether it's through sponsorships, partnerships, or connecting you to the charities we support, your involvement is immensely valued and appreciated. Together, we can make a significant and lasting positive impact.

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