Mequon company offers housing and jobs to Ukrainian refugees

MEQUON — A Mequon business owner who was born and raised in Ukraine helps refugees who have fled the country from halfway around the world.

Wisconsin is 5,000 miles from the devastation in Ukraine, but the connection is made in earnest by a man who calls both places home.

“I’m very proud not to be wearing a suit today, but to be wearing a t-shirt that says ‘made in Ukraine’,” Alex Holden said.

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Alex is a cybersecurity business owner who has lived in Mequon for over three decades. Born and raised in Kyiv, Alex traveled to his home country last fall with his wife.

“I visited Ukraine and walked the old streets of my childhood, and I really reconnected with this wonderful country,” he said. “My wife and I even decided to expand our business to Ukraine and work with Ukrainians.”

Little did Alex know that everything would change in Ukraine a few months later. Nonetheless, Alex decided to go ahead with his plans, but instead of opening a cybersecurity company in kyiv during the war, he turned his offices in the Czech Republic into temporary homes for refugees and offered full-time jobs in the cyber defense to a dozen people who fled to neighboring countries for security reasons.

“We find people who have been displaced by war and give them extremely well-paying jobs,” he said. “Cyber ​​defense is something we are teaching them now and preparing them for the future. Let’s hope for a peaceful future.

One such woman is Alice Kupchynetska, who bonded with Alex through mutual friends. Alice left Milwaukee’s sister city, Irpin, a day after the Russian invasion began. This city is now in ruins and half of its infrastructure is said to have been destroyed by Russian forces.

“I love Ukraine, I want to live in Irpin,” she said. “It’s the best place.”

Alice shared this heartbreaking photo of her 8-year-old daughter hugging her dad at the Ukrainian border before he leaves to defend their country.

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Alice Kupchynetska

Alice, her daughter, her parents and her grandmother arrived safely in Croatia, making ends meet with a stable income from the job Alex gave her.

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Alice Kupchynetska

“Alex has a big big heart,” she said. “He’s like my second father.”

Alice says Alex told her to spend more time with her family and her grief rather than her job as they navigated the unknown.

“There are a lot of families out of work, and that’s a problem, and we don’t know how much of a problem I think that is,” she said.

Alex says his goal is to one day open a cybersecurity office in Kyiv when the war is over, so that Ukrainian refugees currently working remotely for him can continue their work at home.

“A lot of them are watching this with fascination and with hope,” he said.

In addition to helping Ukrainian refugees, Alex says he is working with companies across the United States to bolster their security systems in case Russia launches a cyber war.

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