This article was initially published in the March issue of our quarterly newsletter, The Vincentian.

Ukrainian Family Thrives in Depaul USA’s St. Michael’s House

When Russia invaded its neighbor Ukraine in February 2022, countless families were driven from their homes, scattering to wherever they could find safety—some to the United States in cities like St. Louis, MO.

Serhii and Zina Tkachenko, along with 10-year-old Pasha and 7-month-old Mia were one such family. After arriving in St. Louis, they stayed with host families for 11 months before being selected as the first family to live in a new Depaul USA program called St. Michael’s House in South St. Louis.

Named for the patron saint of Kyiv, the house is intended as a place for refugee families to stay at an affordable rate while they get established in their new community, up to three years. Rich LaPlume, who heads Depaul USA’s operations in St. Louis, said the idea came about after a particularly robust level of fundraising for Ukraine from the city. From there, the project came together in collaboration with the Sisters of Charity Housing Development and the Congregation of the Mission Western Province. After the Tkachenkos move on, another family will move in. Donations for the project are still being accepted; you can scan the QR code below to contribute.

“It was a great example of Vincentian collaboration,” Rich said. “We held a dedication and blessing and handed over the keys on Sept. 27, St. Vincent’s feast day.”

Today, the family is thriving. Serhii has obtained a full-time job as an assistant manager for a building maintenance operation, while Zina attends English-language classes toward resuming the pharmacy work she did in Ukraine. The children, now 11 and 1, are adapting well to their new surroundings. Serhii shared his goals with Rich in a recent conversation.

“We want to get a house like this one,” he said, “a house of our own.”