Cicero and Clergy Committee step up to help Ukraine refugees
Town President Larry Dominick, the Town of Cicero Board and the Cicero Clergy Committee are working with two organizations to help the refugees who are fleeing the Russian invasion of the Ukraine.
Business License Director Ismael Vargas, who is also the Clergy Committee chair serves as Town Chaplain, is preparing to join an international delegation of volunteers who will travel soon to Krakow, Poland to work with the refugees on the Ukraine border.
Vargas, with support from President Dominick, the Cicero Community Network, and the Town Board, are also urging residents to donate hygiene items to support a campaign being led by the Ukrainian Baptist Church of Berwyn to help the growing refugee crisis along the Ukraine border.
“As a community, the Town of Cicero has always been eager to help people in need not just here in our community but also around the world. It doesn’t take away from our community when we help people overseas,” Vargas explained.
“When we learned that the Ukrainian Baptist Church in Berwyn is organizing a donation drive to help Ukraine refugees, we reached out to them. They are our neighbors. We asked the pastor what we can do to help and he was very happy Cicero is involved.”
Rev. Peter Ivanov, pastor of the Ukrainian Baptist Church in Berwyn, joined Vargas and members of the Clergy Committee, addressed the Town of Cicero Board meeting on Tuesday April 12 detailing their plans and asked the community to help. Several members of the Cicero Clergy Committee representing local churches and organizations also attended and are supporting the donation drive.
“We are worried about the war because a lot of our relatives live in Ukraine. I come from a town about 100 miles of Kyiv. I came to the USA in 1994 and worked 15 years at West Suburban Hospital in the OR doing surgery,” Pastor Ivanov said.
“Lots of towns have been destroyed. Many people have been killed. And many more need help. So whatever the public can do to help us bring relief to the refugees and people in Ukraine is welcome.”
Ivanov said they have already more than $35,000 to Ukraine, and sent 10 missionaries to work in Ukraine where there is need. Pastor Ivanov said people can bring items to the town of Cicero PSO building or directly to the church.
The needy items can be brought directly to the Ukraine Baptist Church at 6751 Riverside Drive., or they can be brought to the Cicero Public Safety Office building at 5410 W. 34th Street. The PSO building will accept donations through May 31, Vargas said.
Vargas said the Ukraine Baptist Church is asking the public to donate specific hygiene product items to help the Ukraine victims of the Russia aggression and war. The volunteer committee is looking for specific products that include items for children and babies, and hygiene items for families.
The list of items requested addresses health and hygiene needs for the refugees, and also for the very young children who are the most traumatized by the Russian violence. The items sought include:
Children and baby items:
• New clothing for babies and children
• New underwear
• teething rings
• baby and toddler food
• baby formula (powder)
• Baby wipes
• Zinc Oxide based diaper ointment
• Teething gel
• Mylicon drops for colic relief
• Diapers (all sizes)
• No Toys
Health and Hygiene items:
• Adult sized diapers
• Feminine products (pads, tampons)
• soap and body wash
• shampoo and conditioner
• body wipes
• menstrual pads
Vargas, with the support of President Dominick, has volunteered several times to help people in need in disaster zones including in September 2017 when he went to Puerto Rico to help victims of the Hurricane Maria devastation, and to Mexico to help victims of the earthquake that took 98 lives and injured thousands.
Vargas said he volunteers with the organization called Crises Response International (CRI) which helps people in need throughout the world.
“I have been volunteering with CRI since 2014 personally helping where help is needed,” Vargas said.
“Today, the humanitarian need in Ukraine is an urgent situation and the refugees need help.”
Vargas will spend 12 days along the Poland-Ukraine border from April 26 through May with CRI helping refugees. The CRI campaign to the Poland-Ukraine border is entitled “Operation Ancient Gate: Wave 9.” CRI provides urgent relief, medical aid, and medical trauma support to victims around the world.
“We are very proud of the work that Ismael Vargas does here in Cicero and around the world to help people,” President Dominick said.
“We urge those people who have the ability to help the refugees to donate whatever they can.
If anyone has any questions about the campaign drive, they can contact Ismael Vargas by email at IVargas@thetownofcicero.com.