The Big Meet has consistently brought Ukrainians and expats alike together, providing them with a stylish, relaxing Friday evening once a month, all while making an impactful difference in the lives of those in need.

Kyiv Post sat down with Olga Kearley, the driving force behind one of Kyiv’s most iconic networking gatherings and the owner of The Big Meet, to discuss the remarkable achievements of this year, the ambitious plans appearing on the horizon, and the significant contributions made for the betterment of Ukrainian society, all with the backdrop of a nation at war.

First, Olga, congratulations on the incredible achievement of fundraising the target sum to provide 400 hand warmers to the brigade stationed in Lyman in less than 2 hours. It’s truly remarkable. Can you tell us how it all came together so quickly?

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Thank you so much! I have to say, the moment it happened was nothing short of breathtaking. Witnessing the community come together, with donations as small as Hr. 20, was a testament to the incredible power of collective action. It’s like seeing a thousand small drops of water creating a mighty wave.

But you know, when you reach one goal, it only makes sense to set another. So, our new target is to purchase 800 hand warmers – because when you’ve seen what this community is capable of, aiming high becomes the natural choice. If anyone out there is as inspired as we are and wants to support the fundraiser, you can do so right here.

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Our readers would love to hear about what’s on the horizon for The Big Meet. Can you tell us a little bit about your next event and which organization The Big Meet will be supporting this time?

Our next event is set for Friday, October 27 at the beautiful NĂM • Modern Vietnamese Cuisine [more details here – ed.]. This time around, we are continuing our support for the charitable fund Wings of Justice. We’ll be focusing our fundraising efforts on providing hand warmers for our brave military of the 81st brigade stationed in Lyman, Donetsk region.

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What inspired you to choose Wings of Justice as the beneficiary for The Big Meet event?

The choice of Wings of Justice as our beneficiary was a heartfelt decision. They were the first organization we approached when relaunching our events this year, and our connection with them is profound.

Personally, I know Oleksandr Husarov, one of the co-founders of Wings of Justice. In addition to his work with Wings of Justice, Oleksandr is also a co-founder of Drill, the world’s first app to improve your weapon skills, developed by Ukrainians.

He’s not just a co-founder; he’s a friend, and I’ve seen firsthand the incredible dedication and hard work he and his team put into their mission. They are not just sitting behind desks; they’re out there in the hottest spots, supporting our troops and helping civilians on occupied territories. They go the extra mile, quite literally, by taking supplies themselves, even if it means risking their lives with every trip.

When we heard about the need for hand warmers to support the 81st brigade stationed in Lyman, Donetsk region, we couldn’t just stand by and watch. Wings of Justice was right there on the front lines, ensuring that our troops had what they needed to stay warm and safe. This kind of dedication and selflessness is truly inspiring, and it was a no-brainer for us to support their cause.

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How many events do you plan to organize for The Big Meet this year, and could you share some highlights from the events you’ve already had, such as the number of attendees and the total funds raised?

We’ve been quite busy, with eight events under our belt so far. It’s truly amazing to see the support from our community. We’ve managed to donate a grand total of 72,000 UAH to various Ukrainian charities, all focused on helping those in need. It’s heartwarming to know that we’re making a positive impact.

In terms of attendance, we’ve been blown away by the turnout. On average, we’ve had around 60 people at each event, which is already a fantastic number. And the highest number we’ve had was a whopping 90 plus people.

It’s fulfilling to know that The Big Meet is not just about bringing people together and having a great time, but also making a real difference in our community. We’re extremely excited about our upcoming events and can’t wait to see how much more we can achieve this year.

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Handling diverse fundraisers for various causes can be challenging. How do you effectively engage and motivate people to donate amidst the multitude of fundraising initiatives?

You know, it's not an easy task, and I won't pretend it is. With so many important causes out there, it's essential to figure out how to engage and motivate people effectively.

To address this challenge, I made a conscious decision to build the donation into the entrance fee for our events. This way, attendees don't feel pressured to give; they're already contributing simply by joining us.

Moreover, we understand that many of our past supporters are currently abroad but still want to be part of our charitable efforts. To accommodate them, we've introduced a simple solution: donation jars dedicated to each fundraiser we organize. This ensures that people, regardless of their location, can easily support us, and that every donation goes to its intended cause.

For those looking to join The Big Meet’s online community, where should they start?

There are several channels you can use to connect with our community. On our Facebook page, you can stay updated with our events, find announcements, and enjoy photos from our recent gatherings. Over on Instagram, you’ll get a sneak peek into our events through event highlights and reels.

Our community is incredibly welcoming and supportive, and many of our event attendees become our enthusiastic ambassadors, sharing their experiences with others. So, to start your journey with The Big Meet, be sure to follow us on both Facebook and Instagram and get ready for exciting moments and new connections!

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