Amidst the wreckage and danger of the Ukrainian battlefield, Biola University graduate Dr. Sherri McClurg (Psy.D. ‘98) has had her boots on the ground directly helping Ukrainian orphans to evacuate war-affected areas and has provided psychological and emotional care for these children.
As the executive director of New Horizons for Children (NHFC), McClurg has focused the Christian nonprofit’s efforts on establishing safe havens along the western Ukraine border. NHFC has partnered with the local government to house and care for the rising number of displaced children. The nonprofit has helped evacuate and safely house over 2,000 Ukrainian orphans.
Ever since her touchdown in Ukraine, she has facilitated the implementation of safe havens and provided physical resources and trauma-informed care for Ukrainian children and their caregivers. Sensing a need, Ukrainian authorities spied an opportunity with McClurg’s work and wanted to get involved.
“We were there helping evacuate children we know, and then the government asked us to partner with them and oversee many more evacuations,” McClurg said.
Since February 2022, McClurg and NHFC have seen over 2,000 children evacuated and supported.
Children have been evacuated in various circumstances with some evacuated from air-raid shelters during the middle of the night. Due to the urgency, some have not had the opportunity to pack or bring belongings with them besides the clothes on their backs and the flip-flops on their feet.
Since the children lack basic clothing and medication, McClurg has been a frequent visitor of stores around the areas she serves. The owners of the stores have heavily discounted the clothing and medicine for the children so the organization can afford to provide medicine and clothing for the hundreds of children they have come in contact with.
At this time, all international adoptions for Ukrainian orphans, regardless of their place in the adoption process, have been paused for the safety of the children — both physically and mentally. Due to the displacement, there are layers of emotional trauma the children have experienced, according to McClurg as she shared in a story by NPR.
The NHFC continues caring for the children by providing them with educational resources, healthcare and basic needs.
The efforts have reduced human trafficking risks, preservation of Ukraine’s future generation and has provided the children with a sense of security via familiar culture, education and ongoing care.
“We are now working to build a temporary village of orphanages based in trauma-informed care in western Ukraine until the war resolves,” McClurg said.
Authorities in Lviv help NHFC identify boarding schools, universities and resorts that the organization can renovate into safe havens. Currently there are 26 safe havens established throughout the country.
McClurg’s education from Biola empowered her with the skills she needed to serve the children and promote her efforts in Ukraine.
She earned her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Rosemead School of Psychology in December 1998 and now owns a successful private practice in Ohio where she specializes in trauma-informed care. Her specialization is what led her to the battlefield to serve children.
“It's a big commitment, but completing my graduate degree gave me access to all sorts of possibilities,” she said. “Pursuing that in a Christian community strengthened not only my professional skills but also my faith.”
To learn more about McClurg and NHFC’s mission or to donate to the efforts in Ukraine, visit their website. To learn more about Rosemead School of Psychology’s doctoral programs, visit their website.
Written by Charlotte McKinley, public relations intern. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.