Over the recent weekends, protests for Ukraine have been held in different areas of New York City, including Times Square and Washington Square Park. Hundreds have gathered to show their support. NYC is also helping Ukrainians in New York reunite with their Ukrainian families in Europe. “We will work closely with the federal government to expedite refugee status so Ukrainian New Yorkers can bring their families and loved ones here to New York,” the city’s Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs Manny Castro said.
All of us in New York City ache for Ukrainians, applaud their indomitable spirit and defiance, and pray the brutality will soon be over. Now, Big Apple Greeter, a free program to welcome visitors to New York City (yes, free) is offering a way for New Yorkers and visitors to support the Ukrainian community. Big Apple Greeter, featured previously in forbes.com as “New York’s Greatest Secret,” offers visitors two-to-four-hour journeys in the five boroughs with NYC-based volunteers. These volunteers give visitors the insider scoop on whatever neighborhood they choose to visit. Big Apple Greeters are not professional tour guides; they are proud New Yorkers who want to share stories with visitors and point out the city’s hidden gems which are not found in the guidebooks.
Big Apple Greeter knows the five boroughs of New York City better than anyone else in the city. They also know that NYC is not only home to the largest Ukrainian population in the state, but the entire country. Says Big Apple Greeter Volunteer, Bobbie Kaplan, “There are over 150,000 Ukrainians living in New York City, many in the East Village. We at Big Apple Greeter have a way visitors and New Yorkers alike can help Ukraine. She suggests:
Eat mouthwatering meals at Veselka Restaurant (144 Second Avenue and 9th Street in Manhattan). For sixty years. Veselka (which means rainbow in Ukrainian) has served up some of the best pierogis, borscht, goulash, and other unpretentious specialties to hungry New Yorkers. This cozy East Village Ukrainian coffee shop is the perfect place to enjoy soul-warming Ukrainian comfort food. In support of Ukraine, the restaurant has turned their famous Black & White cookies into the colors of Ukraine (blue & yellow). Veselka is open for delivery, dine-in and takeout. Phone 212-228-9682
Visit the Ukrainian Institute of America (2 East 79th Street off Fifth Avenue in Manhattan) Housed in the landmarked mansion on Museum Mile on the Upper East Side, the Ukrainian Institute of America is a nonprofit organization that promotes Ukrainian art, literature, and music. The institute holds many events open to the public including poetry readings, children’s programs, concerts, and film screenings. The purpose of the Institute is to promote a greater understanding and appreciation of the culture, history, and traditions of Ukraine. The building is one of the grandest turn-of-the-century mansions in New York City, with its unique architectural style of French Renaissance and French Gothic. It was designed by famed architect C.P.H. Gilbert. 212-288-8660
Shop at Arka, 89 East 2nd St. This 71-year-old East Village Ukrainian gift shop reflects Eastern European culture and heritage in the form of folk art, historical books, jewelry, woodwork, sculptures, paintings, antiques, traditional items such as hand-embroidered shirts/blouses, tablecloths, scarves and more. The shop is open Tuesday & Thursday from 12-6 p.m. and Saturday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. If you call ahead, they will try to schedule a time on off-days. 212-473-3550. You can also let your fingers do the walking by shopping on their website for pottery, embroidery, antique collectibles and beautiful scarves, necklace, and more.
There are many more Ukrainian owned shops and restaurants all over New York City. This is the perfect time to visit. Also, consider giving a donation. The United Ukrainian American Relief Committee has a GoFundMe link for donations.
NEW YORK HEARTS UKRAINE