Phoenix restaurant gives back to a former Ukrainian employee

A Mexican restaurant in Phoenix held a special fundraiser for a woman who worked there for 15 years and has a family in Ukraine.
Published: Mar. 4, 2022 at 8:49 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Some Ukrainians here in Arizona are feeling hopeless and afraid, as Russia continues to advance deeper into their home country. Phoenix restaurant Aunt Chilada’s hosted a fundraiser Friday evening to help a Ukrainian close to their hearts. Luby Miller hasn’t worked at Aunt Chilada’s for almost seven years now and doesn’t actually even live in Arizona anymore (Miller lives in northern Iowa).

But after everything she did for the restaurant the 15 years she worked there, the owners of Aunt Chilada’s wanted to give back. “She didn’t just bartend here. She did everything,” Aunt Chilada’s co-owner Tiffany Allison said. “Our maintenance, she can cook. She’s like a sister.”

She’s a sister, whose family and friends are still struggling. In some cases, they’re still hiding in Ukraine. “I got lucky to be here,” Miller said. “And I’m really thankful for it. But I don’t feel the same way for my family and friends.”

Luby (or Lyubov) Miller is trying her best to keep tabs on different relatives. “We don’t know what’s going to happen,” Miller said. “So they live day-to-day worrying about it.”

Some have fled to Poland, while others are committed to fighting in Ukraine for the country’s freedom. But Luby knows this fundraiser is about more than her; it’s about helping Ukraine as a whole. “There will be basics,” Miller said. “Sleeping bags, tents, socks.”

Allison’s history with Miller means she knows any money raised from whacking a Putin piñata goes directly to the source. “I know exactly where this is going to be going,” Allison said. “I don’t need some charity telling me my money might be going somewhere. We know exactly who it’s going to so that in and of itself feels good to me.”

It feels good for Miller too and gives her hope that sooner rather than later, Ukrainians will be OK. “I know that Ukrainian people are not going to give up anymore,” she said. “They’ve been starved. They’ve been shot for their freedom. They will win. They will stand, and they will win.”

If you’d like to donate through Aunt Chilada’s fundraiser, you can do so online at their website.