1 year later, 2 Milwaukee area shops continue showing support for Ukraine, hope for peace

NOW: 1 year later, 2 Milwaukee area shops continue showing support for Ukraine, hope for peace

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- At Welke's, a florist shop on North Avenue in Milwaukee, Lyuobov Levitskaya puts together an arrangement of blue and yellow flowers, a simple act she's done countless numbers of times throughout her career. But this bouquet on this day holds special meaning.

Levitzkaya, one of the lead designers at Welke's, swiftly but gently prunes, cuts and places the flowers in a vase. While years of experience allow her movements to look effortless, the reality is she is putting deep emotion into the work that falls on the one-year anniversary of the war in Ukraine.

Levitzkaya has family in Kiev and St. Petersburg.

"My heart is broken," Levitzkaya told CBS 58 off camera through tears.

The war has torn her family in Ukraine and Russia apart.

"She's shared with us some of her own personal stories which have been heart-wrenching," said David Lang, the owner and president of Welke's House of Roses.

At the outbreak of the war, Levitzkaya began making arrangements using the blue and yellow colors of the Ukrainian flag.

"Flowers can make people think and reflect and know that there are people there helping them, beside them, wanting to be behind them," Lang said in an interview. "That's the power an arrangement can have."

A year ago, CBS 58 documented how Levitzkaya and the staff at Welke's sent a bouquet to European Food and Gifts on Oakland Avenue in Shorewood.

Today, they did the same.

"Look at this masterpiece," shop owner Nikolay Rogovsky said affectionately as he unwrapped the delivery of the arrangement. "Beautiful."

CBS 58 spoke with Rogovsky nearly a year ago when the war was in its early days. The business owner has family who live in the Ukrainian port city of Odesa.

"Every day they're scared not knowing what's going to happen tomorrow," Rogovsky told CBS 58. "Because it's pretty much impossible to predict, either it's going to be a rocket or a drone or anything else."

For the past year, Rogovsky has displayed a Ukrainian flag in the front window of his shop, along with a display of flowers that began after Levitzkaya and Welke's shared the first bouquet in 2022. On the one year anniversary of the war, he dusts off the area where the newest flowers will stand. The flowers give Rogovsky a sense of unity, pride and hope that soon the strength of the Ukrainian people will lead to peace and an end to war.

"We kept that tradition alive, keeping that beautiful bouquet on the window at all times so people would be reminded of that spirit," Rogovsky said. "So, when they see the blue and yellow flowers, it gives them a little bit of that joy for the country."

When asked what else he'd like to say, Rogovsky shared a simple, yet profound message to the community and nation which has rallied and supported his home country.

"Pray for Ukraine. God bless the United States."

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