Chicagoans actively helping people in Ukraine


Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has produced many devastating stories, but also some heartwarming acts of humanity coming out of Chicago.

The latest: One example comes from Rotary Chicago president Marga Hewko. She felt so moved by stories posted on Facebook by a woman working in Ukraine — who also detailed them in the Chicago Tribune — that she found three homes for Ukrainian refugees.

  • “I heard about this 21-year-old girl, Ivanka, who was sent to the border while her parents and fighting-age brothers stayed behind,” Hewko tells Axios.
  • She called friends near Mannheim, Germany who said they could take Ivanka, a musician who had to leave her saxophone in Ukraine. Fortunately, she says, the family just happened to have an extra saxophone for her in their closet. They also found two neighbors to house other refugees.

Flashback: Hewko grew up in Argentina, but married a Ukrainian-American and has heard harrowingly-similar refugee stories from her in-laws.

  • “The only difference is that these stories are happening live in front of us today,” she says. “It’s just heartbreaking.”
auditorium with people
The Chicago Chefs Cook for Ukraine event at Navy Pier. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

Driving the news: Chicago chefs raised more than $500,000 to feed Ukrainian refugees through World Central Kitchen as part of the Chicago Chefs Cook For Ukraine event earlier this month.

  • More than 70 chefs sprang into action for an event pulled together in a mere 10 days.
  • Dozens of restaurateurs told Axios their participation was a no-brainer, even though their businesses are still on shaky ground.
  • And Parachute chef Beverly Kim displayed a picture of her kids’ Ukrainian great-grandmother, explaining that her husband and co-chef John Clark was raised by his Ukrainian grandma.
Black and white picture of a woman
Parachute chef John Clark’s grandmother. Photo courtesy of Beverly Kim

Meanwhile, Evanston-based Rotary International recently raised more than $2 million for humanitarian relief in Ukraine and border countries.

What’s next: If you’re looking for more ways to support Ukrainian refugees locally, here’s a guide from TimeOut.

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