IRKA TKACZUK is a first generation Ukrainian-American and has had strong ties to Ukraine all of her life. Most of her family currently resides in Ukraine and her daughter was born in Kharkiv. Irka spent her early years growing up in Chicago’s Ukrainian Village, where she was an active member of the Ukrainian–American community.
After retiring from health care, Irka dedicated her time to advocating for children in Ukraine as a volunteer and board member of Ukrainian Children’s Aid and Relief Effort, Inc. (UCARE). UCARE, a U.S. based organization collaborating with “Priyateli Ditey” in Kyiv, provided aid to children who grew up in orphanages in Ukraine. Irka focused her efforts on fundraising for orphanage supplies and the UCARE scholarship initiative. She travelled to Ukraine for a month at a time over an 8-year period, purchasing supplies for the orphanages, delivering aid to the individual orphanage and organizing and attending UCARE scholarship meetings.
Since 2013, Irka has been Chair of the Board of Trustees of St. Nicholas Cathedral School in Chicago, as well as the school’s business manager on a volunteer basis.
Her experiences as a passionate advocate for Ukraine solidified her love of Ukrainian culture and heritage. Although she left Chicago 30 years ago, she still considers herself a member of Chicago’s Ukrainian American community.
Since the war began, Irka has been committed to helping her friends, family and children in Ukraine.
At the request of a colleague and educator in Kyiv and within days of the start of the war, Irka and fellow UCARE members organized educators and volunteers to provide daily lessons for children in Ukraine- their goal being to engage students by distracting and occupying their time. To date, St. Nicholas in Chicago, has welcomed over 40 children who fled with their mothers from Ukraine since the start of the war. St. Nicholas has accepted these children tuition free and provided them with a safe, nurturing learning environment and embraced them with love.
Assist-Ukraine has given Irka the opportunity to join forces with equally concerned citizens who want to support Ukraine and its people in a meaningful and effective manner.