With how bright both Ivan and Iryna Hrynchenko smiled at Monday night’s City and Borough of Juneau Assembly meeting, it’s hard to imagine how just a few months back, the mother and son left their home in Ukraine for safety as it suffered from Russian attacks.
The pair, who are the first refugees from the war in Ukraine to seek haven in Juneau, received a special recognition at the beginning of the CBJ Assembly meeting and gave a short speech that received a standing ovation from the around dozen Juneau residents who attended the meeting. The pair also shook hands with Mayor Beth Weldon, Assembly members and other city officials and received a handful of welcome gifts courtesy of the city including swim passes to the CBJ pools.
Ivan and Iryna arrived in Juneau in late June at the Juneau International Airport, after spending four months traveling from their hometown in Ukraine to refugee stops across Europe before finally coming to the capital city from Anchorage. Since their landing, the family has been able to find an apartment with the help of the community a part of the local effort, and both said they are happy to be in Juneau.
“It is quite nice, we really like it … there are nice people here,” Ivan said.
Joyanne Bloom and Eileen Wagner, who helped lead the local efforts to bring Ivan and Iryna to Juneau, joined along with the pair at the meeting and said it’s “really wonderful” to be a part of the efforts to help Ivan and Iryna get settled in Juneau.
• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at email@example.com or (651)-528-1807. Follow her on Twitter at @clariselarson.