Afternoon Edition: June 20, 2022

Today’s update is a 5-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

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Olga Tsoi, 31, who grew up in Ukraine and was visiting her mother there when war broke out, is now back in her Rogers Park apartment on the North Side.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

This afternoon will be sunny with a high near 93 degrees. Tonight will be clear with a low around 71. Tomorrow will be sunny and hot with a high near 99 and heat index values pushing past 100.

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Afternoon Edition

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Top story

Chicagoan home after escaping war in Ukraine: ‘I’m incredibly lucky’

Last week, Olga Tsoi boarded a plane in Poland, headed home to Chicago after escaping Ukraine.

And she had this gut-wrenching feeling she had failed her mission.

She had not arrived in Poland by choice. Home for a visit to her native Ukraine, she’d fled when Russian forces invaded in February.

After making it to Poland with her mother, Tsoi spent 90 days there, working in soup kitchens and delivering bags of groceries to families in need. She helped find housing for families by putting them up in hotels and tried her best to help those displaced develop a course of action — such as where they could relocate.

She did this all with her mother, Oksana Tsoi, at her side — and Olga pledged she would bring her back to the United States with her. But the Rogers Park resident soon realized that was untenable.

“In my head I thought — because Poland right away opened its borders to Ukrainians — I thought every country was going to be the same,” Olga Tsoi said. “I figured I was just going to take my mom home to the United States and, well, that’s not how it works.”

It wasn’t until April 25 that the United States launched its program to welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees — two months after the invasion.

“We kept waiting, waiting, waiting, and by the time the United States said we could do some sort of sponsorship, we decided to get my mom into Canada,” Tsoi said. “I’m moving my mom to Canada because, first, it was faster, and if she came to the U.S., there were more restrictions, like she could only stay for two years and wouldn’t be able to go back to Ukraine.”

That’s how she returned to Chicago alone after exhausting the amount of time she was allowed to stay in Europe as a U.S. resident. Returning to Chicago was somewhat bittersweet.

Manny Ramos has more on Olga and Oksana Tsoi’s escape from Ukraine and what’s next for the family.

More news you need

  1. Mayor Lori Lightfoot today chose the sister of retired Ald. Michael Scott Jr. to replace her brother in the City Council despite the appearance of the nepotism that has long dominated Chicago politics. Monique Scott will replace her younger brother as the alderperson representing the city’s 24th Ward.
  2. Two rivals of Democratic House primary candidate Jonathan Jackson blasted him today for not filing his required personal financial disclosures and deplored the $500,065 being spent by a crypto billionaire’s PAC to elect him. Ald. Pat Dowell and state Sen. Jaqueline Collins called Jackson out in separate statements, with the former saying voters need to know “how he makes his money.”
  3. In her parting message to the city before she leaves to become president of Spellman College in Atlanta, Dr. Helene Gayle says “big programs” are needed to close Chicago’s growing wealth gap. Gayle, the CEO of The Chicago Community Trust for five years, spoke to our Fran Spielman about the city’s challenges before she leaves to face a new one of her own.
  4. John “Moon” Mullin, a longtime sportswriter who covered the Bears for decades, died Sunday at age 74. Mullin, a beloved fixture in local sports media, “this month set local records for hospital visitors as he fought the ravages of Stage IV pancreatic cancer,” Patrick Finley writes.
  5. Do we really need another movie about the man and the myth and the legend that was Elvis Presley? Richard Roeper says in a glowing review that “Elvis” answers that question with “a resounding YES” in part thanks to “a smoldering star turn performance from Austin Butler as the title character.”
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A bright one

Chicago Tool Library: Building community one project at a time

Behind a blue gate and up a loading dock on the South Side, there’s a small library.

It has no books. Instead, there are shelves and shelves of tools: Saws, sewing machines., laminators. Even ice cream makers.

The sign at the entrance reads “Chicago Tool Library.”

It’s a place where Chicagoans can borrow tools for all sorts of projects or jobs rather than having to buy them, said Tessa Vierk, co-founder and executive director.

A hand-painted sign points toward metal racks full of tools and other work supplies.

The Chicago Tool Library loans tools to members from its space at 1048 W. 37th St. in Bridgeport.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

The nonprofit launched in August 2019 and in just under three years has grown from 160 to almost 3,000 members. People come from across the city, representing about 98% of Chicago’s ZIP codes, Vierk said.

“We have school teachers planting gardens for their classes. We have several small businesses that use our tools to do renovations, or to do landscaping outside of their restaurant or their shop,” Vierk said. “We have people who use our tools to make money, to complete odd jobs.”

During the pandemic, people borrowed pasta makers and ice cream makers for their families, Vierk said. They borrowed telescopes for their kids and built custom, at-home desks, she said.

Cadence Quaranta has more on how the nonprofit aims to be about more than just tools.

From the press box

Your daily question ☕

If you could watch a Hollywood biopic about any Chicagoan, who would be the subject? Why?

Send us an email at newsletters@suntimes.com and we might feature your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

On Friday, we asked you: What does the Juneteenth holiday mean to you? Tell us why. Here’s what some of you said...

“The idea of Juneteenth is that we are celebrating not the freedom of some of us, but the freedom of all of us.” — Jamon Jordan

“Real history of this country. Not some folklore and lies of the closed minded.” — Robert Ward

“That we got another symbolic day and no plans for real change with regards to what is really hurting our communities of colors.” — Frank DIllingham

“To me it really is a reflection of my ancestors unique contributions to mankind, in particular the United States of America. A reflection on their pain then ... and the sacrifices they made. To now honor them through this reflection by keeping their memory alive for generations to come.” — Edward Glass Boone

“It’s means that the Pro Confederate Flag folks are punching the air right now.” — Tiffany Overton

“We can celebrate freedom from slavery, while making people aware of human rights issues around the world today.” — Ruben Santos Claveria

“This among other things reminds me that I have been taught history from a very ‘white’ perspective. We have a long way to go … I’m happy that my eyes have been opened.” — Mark Bergadon

“It’s acknowledgement of some of the suffering that my people have endured.” — Shajuanta Johnson

“It is a day of respite and jubilation that the remainder of the people were free to seek the promise of life that God gave all of us from a life that demeaned the victims and the victimizers. We can do better and that idea is worthy of the attention of all of the people in the country. Every time we seek our better angels elevates all of us.” — Frances Lake

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