Illia Poroshkov and his family lived in the city of Avdiivka in the Donetsk region of Ukraine.  It is a place where the fighting from Russian aggression has been ongoing since 2014.  Illia had experience bringing community growth to the area prior to 2014, but once military fighting broke out, his mission became helping displaced civilians and families obtain supplies, food, clothing, shelter and other resources as they looked to reconstruct their destroyed cities.  Once Russia launched its full-scale invasion in 2022, Illia saw his own family displaced a second time and fled Ukraine for the United States.  The Poroshkov family was resettled in Stoughton, WI where local programs have welcomed over 50 Ukrainians since the Russian invasion.  Illia and his family began adapting to life in America finding an apartment, vehicle and work while learning a new language and culture.

In spring 2023, Illia and his family were invited to tour the Capitol building in Madison.  On that visit, Illia met Maryna Oliinyk, a Ukrainian native, who helped bridge the language barrier on the tour.  Maryna, a legislative assistant at the Capitol, talked with Illia about his continued desire to help other families both still living in Ukraine and those who have had to flee their homes and cities.  Maryna was sympathetic and enthusiastic about the mission and wanted to lend her support to help fellow Ukrainians and other families in crisis.

Mark Sinnott has been a Stoughton resident since 2015.  He and his wife own a toy store there and were volunteers in helping the Poroshkov family find household essentials when they resettled in Stoughton.  Mark and Illia became friends by sharing meals and conversation over Google translate.  Illia explained to Mark the work he had done to help with displaced Ukrainians and his desire to continue to help from the US.  Illia, Maryna and Mark began meeting as a team and decided to launch Links of Steel with the mission of providing response, relief and recovery to individuals and families displaced by conflict or climate.

With an immediate focus on the crisis in Ukraine, Links of Steel strives to be a beacon of hope for those facing displacement.  Using past experience as a guide and always hoping to learn and improve, Links of Steel is an organization that Illia, Maryna and Mark are proud to be a part of.  All of their lives have been touches in different ways by this crisis and they are all hoping the serendipity of their coming together culminates in relief for as many people as possible.