Employee Spotlight: ‘We Just Want the War to Stop’

March 18th, 2022 by
Dennis Bilenko
Staff Accountant, Walser Hyundai


In the weeks since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the war has unleashed an unbelievable humanitarian toll, a full-fledged refugee crisis, and claimed thousands of lives. Most Americans have been left to watch updates of the devastating destruction from afar.

But for two Walser employees, the war in Ukraine isn’t thousands of miles away. It’s right here. It’s in their hearts and minds daily. Dennis Bilenko, a staff accountant, and Dmitriy Solodovnik, a journeyman technician, are Ukrainian immigrants. Both men have family left in Ukraine. Both are crushed by the emotional toll of the crisis. Both are trying to make sense of the senseless.

Bilenko, 39, was born in the Soviet Union and can recall when Ukraine achieved its independence in 1991. Fifteen years later, with tensions still high and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intentions unclear, Bilenko made the difficult decision to leave his homeland. In 2015, Bilenko moved to the United States with his wife and three sons. Today, the now-father of five also serves as a deacon at the Slavic Baptist Church in Shakopee. It’s through his church that he’s organizing support for Ukraine and rallying in his community.

“You know, almost every Ukrainian is destroyed. Emotionally destroyed. We don’t have any tears or anger toward Russia, but we just want to get peace and freedom for our country. We want to help every refugee who is trying to move from Ukraine and escape,” he said.
Bilenko comes from the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. His father and other family members remain in the country today.

“We just want to stop the war,” he said.


Dmitriy Solodovnik
Journeyman Technician, Walser Chrysler Jeep Dodge


Watching this crisis unfold has been an emotional experience for Walser Chrysler Jeep Dodge Journeyman Technician Dmitriy Solodovnik. Solodovnik came to the United States when he was just 12 years old, following his father who immigrated to the U.S. first. Lately, Solodovnik has been reflecting on what his home country once was.


Solodovnik shared photos taken by his family of the destruction in and outside their home in Ukraine


“It’s just sad to see what we had there back then versus what we’re seeing in photos from our family today. Roads are destroyed. It’s all just destroyed,” he said.

Solodovnik said his 98-year-old grandmother and several cousins remain in Ukraine. With bags packed, the family is ready to flee if and when they must.

“It’s tough. I mean, people are basically just trying to survive at this point. It’s just a surviving game.”

Despite the emotional weight, Solodovnik said his colleagues have been supportive, some even providing donations for him to send back home.

“It’s nice of them. Some people just don’t understand or don’t know what I’m going through. I’m just trying to keep my head up and just work. Stay strong.”


In an effort to support life-saving relief for Ukrainian citizens, Walser Automotive Group and the Walser Foundation are donating $15,000 to three critical relief organizations.

  • Save the Children – this 100-year-old organization is focused on providing children and families with food, hygiene kits, and funding.


  • International Rescue Committee – This non-profit is sourcing medical supplies, sleeping bags, and blankets for distribution at reception centers on the Ukrainian / Polish border.


  • Ukraine War Refugee Fund – Born out of the Slavic Baptist Church in Shakopee, MN, this grassroots effort is partnering with churches in Ukraine to provide support in five different hub cities across the country.