By Kristin Boza
After living together in Atlanta, Ga., and Wichita, Kan., Mary Kate Love Opoka and her husband Matt Opoka finally made their way back to the South Side. Matt grew up in Evergreen Park and Mary Kate grew up in the St. Bede neighborhood. Both loved the sense of community they found on the South Side growing up and knew they wanted to make Beverly/Morgan Park their forever home. With eight-month-old baby Mackey in tow, the couple enjoys exploring the neighborhood.
“My parents moved to Beverly when I was 18 and I really grew to love it when I came home from college visits,” Mary Kate said. “I especially loved taking the Metra downtown, the shops on 103rd, and the ease of meeting new neighbors and becoming part of this community.”
Mary Kate works in the tech and start-up sectors, currently at Versuen, a supply chain start-up. Matt works as a commercial manager for Plate Plus, a steel company. Both of them love to play sports; Matt golfs any chance he can get and Mary Kate enjoys playing 16” softball with friends. “Traveling is our favorite thing to do. We were able to go to France right before Covid in 2020 and spent the last few years doing trips across the U.S.,” Mary Kate said.
Their first experience as new neighbors was moving in during a snowstorm. “Yet, our neighbors came in to greet us and welcome us to the neighborhood. We immediately felt welcomed and knew people were looking out for us,” Mary Kate said. “Our next-door neighbor even had a welcome party for us and another new family on the block. We think that 100th and Damen is the best block in Chicago!”
Finding their dream home was stressful for the couple, as they were house hunting from Kansas and had just had baby Mackey. “We had our hearts set on Beverly. We heard word that this house might sell and left a note in the door. We purchased the house just a week or so later after leaving that note! The previous owner of our home had that note framed for us that we keep in our home. We will tell this story forever!” Mary Kate said.
Community involvement is really important to the Opokas. Mary Kate is on the St. Laurence High School board (she attended Queen of Peace High School) and she volunteers for Women in Tech. Matt is on the Most Holy Redeemer Men’s Club and both of them are looking forward to finding local organizations to join.
The family frequently visits Afro Joe’s, 1818 W. 99th St., and enjoys their food, drinks, and live music. Mary Kate loves shopping at Belle Up Boutique, 1915 W. 103rd St., and they all enjoy pancakes from KimmyKakes Café and Bakery, 10225 S. Western Ave. Their favorite family activity is walking around the 95th Street Farmers Market. “We love walking around with Mackey and listening to local music and shopping for food with our neighbors,” Mary Kate said.