CHULA VISTA - Thousands of Ukrainian refugees celebrated their first Thanksgiving across America, including a number of families here in San Diego County.
Army Veteran Spencer Cash says the Thanksgiving at his Chula Vista home was a little bit bigger this year, because since April, he's hosted the Iakunin family from Ukraine.
"Five new family members, so to say," Cash told reporting partner 10 News. "It’s been very special to be able to help them."
The Iakunin family made a harrowing escape from Kiev and eventually crossed the border in San Ysidro. But as the father Sergey says they had to leave his mother Svetlana behind.
“She feel real bad. Always nervous, worries. Can’t sleep,” Sergey said
The Iakunin family does have a lot to be thankful for: they were granted humanitarian parole and are grateful they can start a new life here in the U.S. Sergey hopes his work permit application will be processed soon and he will be able to look for work as a sailing instructor or fitness trainer.
Thanksgiving also marked nine months since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. More than 1,000 Ukrainian refugees have settled in San Diego County this year.