WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A Polish immigrant, known to many as the king of polka music, now lives in Palm Beach County and is doing his part to help refugees fleeing Ukraine.
Jan Lewandowski is mobilizing to help families in need as the crisis in Ukraine unfolds.
Fear and chaos are how Lewandowski describes the crisis along the border in his home country of Poland.
“Even when I talk about it, [I] can’t hold back [my] tears,” Lewandowski said.
The Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter returned to West Palm Beach on Sunday evening after a week-long mission trip to Europe.
While there, he visited family and delivered suitcases full of medical supplies to hospitals in desperate need.
“When the two soldiers were escorting them to the hospital from the border, they jumped out of the hospital to open everything and they were taking what they needed at the moment,” Lewandoski said.
He also goes by the nickname “Polka King,” who rose to fame in the 1980s but hit rock bottom after a federal conviction landed him behind bars.
He said his time in prison was a lesson learned and inspired him to step up and help others when in need.
“[It was a] Lucky I was there,” Lewandoski said. “It opened my eyes to what can really be done in your life.”
While abroad, he captured the devastation on his cell phone and witnessed their struggles.
One of the most moving sights, he said, was seeing hundreds of thousands of refugees waiting in queues that stretched for miles.
“Every refugee must be registered so that they can travel freely within Europe or outside the country,” Lewandoski said.
Seeing mothers abandoning their children is another image he cannot shake.
He said he plans to send at least two more suitcases of supplies to local hospitals in Poland and encourages others who can help to join in the solidarity.