The O’Hare Community Area is just east of the airport of the same name, along Cumberland Avenue between Foster and Lawrence. It’s an oft-overlooked residential and commercial corridor west of O’Hare, characterized by bungalows and home to Cook County Forest Preserve areas like Schiller Woods.
It adjoins the municipalities of Harwood Heights and Norridge and is a crucial center for Ukrainian-American life, commerce, and culture.
Interactive map: More information on our community reporting series
The community comes together to help the war effort in Ukraine.
St. Joseph Ukrainian Catholic Church is a mecca for Ukrainian Catholics who travel from all over the region to attend the service.
It has been a community staple for 60 years and is one of the most architecturally notable churches in the country, built in the Eastern Christian tradition.
The church has held daily morning liturgies for family members and friends who are still at home.
While the Russian invasion shows no signs of abating, Reverend Mykola Buryadnyk says the parish has organized food and humanitarian drives, as well as efforts to send body armor to troops on the front lines.
He says there is also a need to personally counsel members who are terrified, and he often says he himself is at a loss for words. But this week offers some comfort to Ukrainian Catholics with the start of the holiest season of the year – Lent – leading up to Easter.
Buryadnyk says his parishioners are not alone and can take comfort in the fact that in Catholic scripture this was the time of Jesus Christ’s greatest suffering.
“There’s a crucifixion going on, there’s a lot of betrayal, a lot of loneliness. There is a prayer we can say: ‘Lord, why have you forsaken me?’ said Buradnyk. “At the same time, we know there has to be a resurrection, there has to be a new day. We’re waiting for that, victory, peace. That’s the only thing we can pray for right now.
U.S. Representative Mike Quigley, which represents part of the O’Hare region and also chairs the Ukrainian Congressional Caucus, says that although Ukraine’s defense is fighting hard, it faces a “paper lag” against Russia.
“It was to be a massive invasion of the whole country on multiple fronts,” Quigley said. “They [Ukraine] resisted the Russians considerably. Unfortunately, there have been breakthroughs…help needs to be extended on the sanctions front. This is starting to have some effect on the Russian economy.
Video: Watch our full interview with Mike Quigley
Meanwhile, the Illinois division of the Committee of the Ukrainian Congress of America is currently preparing for refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine.
“We have set up a refugee committee and have a coordinator to take the names of volunteers for the refugees to temporarily stay with them in their homes,” said Pavlo Bandriwsky, vice president of UCCA-IL. “We hope and pray.”
Video: Watch our full interview with Pavlo Bandriwsky
The Biden administration announced on Thursday that it is offering tens of thousands of Ukrainians living in the United States temporary humanitarian aid protection against eviction.
Next to Saint-Joseph is the Federal Autonomous Credit Union – a lender who is a lifeline for Ukrainian Americans in good times and bad.
It plays an important role as all mortgage officers speak Ukrainian and they can help with mortgages and other loans for immigrants who might be left out of traditional banking.
Senior director Walter Tun says they, too, helped organize a fundraiser that sent money directly back to Ukraine for war and humanitarian efforts.
“We have waived all wire transfer fees for any wire transfers to Ukraine,” Tun said. “We’ve made it easier for our members to choose to send money to support loved ones and humanitarian aid in Ukraine.”
Credit Union employees all have family in Ukraine – they are nervous like all Ukrainian Americans.
It is not just stories of a valiant defensive effort that come to mind, but of bombarded towns and civilian deaths.
Mortgage agent Tetyana Novikova says she’s not sleeping. Her elderly and infirm parents are in western Ukraine and cannot leave. She stays up all night monitoring the situation on the ground for them.
“They are sick and cannot move without help,” Novikova said. “I’m always on the phone, always online. When we have day, they have night. News, I call them. I wake them up because they are sleeping.
Aldus. Nick Sposato (38th Ward) represents the area and says he thinks Chicago should take in Ukrainian relatives and refugees, but he doubts the shelters have enough room.
Instead, he proposes that the city help families who welcome refugees into their homes.
“My answer would be to ask the Ukrainian families to take them in and then maybe we could compensate them,” Sposato said. “If Mary and John live here, speak the language and can accommodate a mother and two children, let’s give cash assistance to people who want to help them.”
Community Report Series
“Chicago Tonight” is expanding its community reporting. We’re taking to the streets to talk with your neighbors, local businesses, agencies and leaders about COVID-19, the economy, racial justice, education and more. See where we went and what we learned using the map below. Or select a community using the drop-down menu. Dots in Red represent our COVID-19 Across Chicago series; blue marks our “Chicago Tonight” series in Your Neighborhood.