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Ogden tattoo shop owner bringing Ukrainian refugee to Utah

Posted at 5:43 PM, Jun 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-20 23:35:06-04

OGDEN, Utah — OGDEN, Utah — Tattooing is Jack Knowlden's passion.

Knowlden is the owner of "Skin It" Tattoo, which has two shops in Ogden.

A second passion of Knowlden's is helping others. He recently took a strong interest in helping those impacted by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

In March, FOX 13 News spoke to Knowlden when he was in Medyka, Poland, giving aid to Ukrainian refugees.

"Even when I try to approach them, at first they're scared, but to see them smile when you give them that hot cocoa or that piece of chocolate, like, that just sticks with you," Knowlden said in March.

He made a return trip to Poland the following month.

It was in April that Knowlden decided to get a tattoo to remember his experience.

"So, I just went on Instagram, I looked up Ukrainian tattoo artists, start scrolling through a few," he said.

That's how he found Zinaida Horetska, a Ukrainian refugee who fled her hometown of Dnipro.

"She literally just went to Warsaw, just to tattoo to make money to send back to her friends that were stuck there fighting," said Knowlden.

Knowlden gave her his card afterward.

After not seeing one another for a few weeks, Knowlden met Horetska and her friend for coffee and gave her some money, which she ended up using to buy supplies to send home to Dnipro.

Knowlden then returned home to Ogden.

After a couple of weeks, he said Horetska reached out, asking if he would sponsor her and help bring her to the United States. He said this came after she had been trying to come to America with her friend, but her visa fell through.

Knowlden jumped at the chance, using the Uniting for Ukraine program to help fill out all the necessary paperwork.

"You become a beneficiary, so what the U.S. Government wants you to prove is that you can provide for somebody that's coming over here," said Knowlden.

A tattoo convention that Knowlden helped put on last month in Ogden raised $20,000. Those funds will go toward facilitating Horetska's move to Utah.

Horetska says she is excited for a fresh start.

"It's miracle," she said. "Like destiny. I don't know how it happened."

The move to the United States will also allow Horetska to continue her love for tattooing at one of Knowlden's shops.

"It's my passion and I'm super excited," she said. "Here in Poland, it's really hard to find clients. I like my work very much and doing my best."

It is something Knowlden was happy to make happen.

"We're helping make her dreams come true and she's going to be tattooing in America," he said.

Knowlden told FOX 13 News that he bought Horetska's plane ticket, and she will arrive in Utah on July 21.

He says he is also sponsoring a Ukrainian mother and her son, and all the paperwork for them was approved about a week and a half ago.

Knowlden says the mother and son will eventually join another relative in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the future.