We had the good fortune of connecting with Viktoriia Simakova and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Viktoriia, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
Many of us watch the news every day and see the horrors and atrocities happening in Ukraine at the moment. Many of us get frustrated as it seems that people cannot do much about it. I know I couldn’t stay aside and just watch, I had an urge to do what I can to help people in Ukraine as much as possible. Thus, nonprofit organization Help Ukraine Now focuses on helping people in Ukraine by delivering medicine and other humanitarian aid in most affected areas in Ukraine and providing trusted nonprofits on the ground with funds so that they are able to deliver food, clothes and other necessities to the people suffering from russian aggression. Our mission is to ensure material, social and psychological needs of Ukrainians, restore the country’s prosperity and contribute to progressing Ukraine as a strong and independent state. Help Ukraine Now aims at restoring and rebuilding residential housing, schools and hospitals after the war is over as well.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
My professional story began in Ukraine when at the age of 18 I started teaching English at a public high school while receiving my Bachelors degree at Kyiv National Linguistic University. I loved teaching and loved the kids but I saw how much the school education was far from real life challenges and how much kids were not treated well. After a year abroad through an exchange program, I have decided to start my own language school that now serves 400 students. The model of education is very different from my school experience – I wanted the kids and the staff to feel accepted, loved and cared for. Our human-centered philosophy is represented in our curriculum and the way we treat each other and students and parents every single day. The school grew from 40 students back in 2010 to 400 in 2022. I believe that the success of the school is in combining rigor in education with love, care and belonging in the way we treat each other and communicate. In 2013, our team started another project for children International Leadership Camp ESSC. This project also grew from 20 kids to 250 participant during summer months. The camp is the place where kids have opportunity to travel with their peers, communicate with people from other countries and grow their leadership skills. This year as I moved to the USA for my Masters and when the war started in Ukraine, I knew I couldn’t stay aside. That is why me and my fellow Ukrainians started a nonprofit organization called Help Ukraine Now that is focused on delivering medical and humanitarian aid to Ukraine and partners with nonprofits on the ground which deliver food, water and other supplies to most dangerous and affected areas in Ukraine. Every single time when we have our delivery accomplished and receive photos and videos of people who receive our aid is what makes it a special and exciting experience as you know you are actually helping to save other people’s lives. I think this is the most rewarding feeling of knowing that you really made a difference, that because of what you are doing someone else in another part of the world had food to eat today.

The lessons I learned in my 12 year experience of entrepreneurship are the following:

1. the hard times are teaching you something. Learn the lesson or otherwise the hard lesson will come back

2. people are the most important resource you have, treat them the way they never want to leave and create conditions for their prosperity

3. If you are not excited to come to work every day, It is time to move to the next level

4. Grow your people – provide opportunities for people to learn and grow

5. Your passion is contagious.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
As I am a water person, I would take my friends to the ocean. Maybe take a boat trip or go kayaking in La Jolla. Of course, there are many beautiful places in San Diego like Balboa park, Sea port village, Little Italy and other places.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Coming from Ukraine, I have so many people that contributed to my success.

However, I would like to shoutout one of the most loving and supportive communities here in San Diego, California. I have been blessed to spend this year as a part of High Tech High community while receiving my Masters degree in Educational Leadership at High Tech High Graduate School of Education. Being a part of High Tech community has allowed me to feel acceptance and belonging which encourages you greatly for pushing your own boundaries and growing as a human and as a professional. This is a feeling when you have a crazy idea that you want to implement and think that no one can support you doing that, but when you voice the idea there are people who support you and encourage you in daring greatly.

Instagram: victoria.simakova and helpukrainenow_sandiego

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/viktoriia-simakova-a51206106/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/helpukrainenowsandiego

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutSocal is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.