NORTHBROOK, IL — Like many mothers, Rada Cheremoshnyuk had grown frustrated with trying to keep her child occupied when they were at home, wanting to expand their horizons without traveling too far from home.
At the time, Cheremoshnyuk worked in publishing in downtown Chicago, which provided her with access to various businesses looking to promote their services while sometimes not having the budget to do so. That’s when the idea came. What if there was a one-stop-shop on a social media platform like Facebook, where parents could go to find activities and events to occupy their children’s time.
That’s when Cheremoshnyuk started Chicago Parents, a Facebook group devoted to providing parents around the greater Chicago area with a running list of events, services, and other offerings being provided by businesses around the region that parents could pick and choose without limiting themselves to possibilities, including those they may have never thought to consider in the first place.
Chicago Parents is an open Facebook group although Cheremoshnyuk works as the gatekeeper to prevent posts from being political or from allowing inappropriate posts to slip through the cracks. The group currently has about 6,000 members of features a variety of events and activities, many of which have an international flair that allows children to take advantage of all the greater Chicago area has to offer.
Through the group, Cheremoshnyuk began introducing local businesses to an audience that perhaps they may have not had before Chicago Parents. Unlike other social media platforms, Chicago Parents allows businesses to publicize their services or events for free, which alleviated any budgetary concerns they may have run into before.
For parents, the group was also appealing, especially when it comes to finding activities at the last minute for when their child or student may be home for an extended period of time such as a holiday break from school.
“In today’s environment, nobody really plans that far ahead anymore so finding things last-minute is pretty difficult,” Cheremoshnyuk told Patch on Tuesday. “Because there are so many scattered resources and you start searching for ‘What do I do with my 8-year-old this weekend in Chicago’, it can be hard.”
What started primarily with businesses in the downtown Chicago area, Cheremoshnyuk expanded the group’s reach to the suburbs, opening up the reach both for local businesses and parents looking to use the services. She figured the more businesses that could participate the better and the bigger number of activities from which parents could choose would only make the social media group more appealing to a larger number of people.
Cheremoshnyuk found herself in that group. For the longest time, she looked for a daycare where tutors could communicate with her son in Russian or Ukrainian, the language spoken in their home. While her initial search didn’t turn up any good solutions, she eventually found two facilities that could work with her son.
Many of the businesses using Chicago Parents are more of the mom-and-pop varieties that don’t have large marketing budgets with which to work. The Facebook group has provided a perfect solution for businesses that could promote themselves for free while also providing the group’s members more of a wide-ranging selection of activities from which to choose.
Over the past eight years, the group has attracted new businesses and return customers alike. The response to Chicago Parents has been overwhelmingly positive. From businesses that have gained new customers through the Facebook group to parents who now have plenty of activities to keep their children busy, Cheremoshnyuk has gotten nothing but positive feedback about the services she provides.
“It’s all for the community really,” Cheremoshnyuk said. “Everybody really appreciates being able to post for free or to just be able to go into the group and see what’s going on if you are a parent without major hassles.”
The business tends to get a lot of activity around holidays or school breaks when parents are looking for things to keep their children busy. From community light displays to chess lessons or language tutors teaching kids a foreign language, the events are meant to be varied to allow local kids the chance to experience cultures and out-of-the-box activities that perhaps they otherwise wouldn’t.
The goal, she said, is to keep a very multicultural approach to the group, focusing on international communities and inclusiveness while also promoting a sense of belonging for anyone who joins the group. Given Chicago’s standing as a collection of neighborhoods and suburbs where countless nationalities are represented, Cheremoshnyuk says that the region has provided a great landing space for this type of online community.
The group, which is public, keeps Cheremoshnyuk busy. She is responsible for monitoring the groups wishing to post services or events and currently has about 2,000 posts waiting in the queue to be introduced to the Chicago Parents audience. The group is more of a labor of love for Cheremoshnyuk, who now works in digital marketing and considers running the Facebook group more of a public service.
A lot of college students use the group as part of their studies and use the site for research on how parents raise their children or other topics that the Chicago Parents group can provide assistance with. While Cheremoshnyuk isn’t necessarily surprised with the reach the group has attained over the past eight years, she is pleased with the ways it has helped both local businesses and local parents.
“I feel like the possibilities are endless,” Cheremoshnyuk said. “This is like my passion project and it’s my way of doing public service so there’s really no limits.
“I feel like the group is really moving in the right direction and that we’re helping local businesses out, we’re helping parents and giving them advice and also being a resource.”
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