Music to lend a hand to Ukrainian refugees – Monterey Herald

CARMEL — The tragedy of the war in Ukraine has rallied governments, organizations and individuals around the world to help people devastated by the conflict. Among those in our region who are mobilizing to make a difference is Carmel businessman Paul Laub. He leads a series of Ukrainian musical events to raise funds for the most vulnerable victims in war-affected parts of the country. The first of these concert programs takes place at the Forest Theater in Carmel on Sundays from 3-5 p.m.

The Ukrainian war strongly affected Laub. He admires President Zelenskyy’s strength and character and says as a veteran himself too old to be a soldier at 77, he still wants to do something to help, be a spark plug for good. as he calls it. With that in mind, he set out to find a way to raise money to help the cause.

“I asked my son Jason to find Ukrainian charities for me and he did. Then I asked charities if they had access to Ukrainian singers and musicians who would give concerts if I found the venues, with all proceeds going to help refugee women and children.

That’s how he found Hromada, a 501c3 organization in the San Francisco Bay Area with many resources already in place to support war-affected children, women, and refugees. The organization’s co-founder, Natalyia Anon, who works closely with Laub on fundraising, says the name Hromada is usually translated as “community,” but there’s more to it.

“Hromada means an intelligent, self-organized community of people working together towards a common goal,” she says. “The word is specific to Ukrainian. There is no equivalent word in other Slavic languages.

Oksana and Sviatoslav Stus will sing duets of folk and patriotic songs at a special fundraiser for Ukrainian refugees on Sunday. (Courtesy picture)

Among the volunteers linked to Hromada is a loose collective of Ukrainian musical artists who offer their talents to the organization’s charitable efforts. The audience of the Forest Theater will hear the vocal choir Kolyada sing the Ukrainian anthem and folk songs from their repertoire. The choir participates in many Californian music festivals as well as a wide variety of Ukrainian events. Ola Herasymenko Oliynyk, famous bandura player, will perform on this traditional Ukrainian stringed instrument. The famous Ukrainian singer Anychka will also perform in this program. Oksana and Sviatoslav Stus will sing duets of folk and patriotic songs. Soprano Oleksandra Zabashta, formerly of kyiv Opera, will perform gems from her repertoire, as will mezzo Oksana Manzhay of Lviv Opera. The program will be presented with two musical sections divided by a silent auction.

Hromada was founded in 2017 to serve the Ukrainian diaspora in this country. He started by publishing the first Ukrainian newspaper on the West Coast and quickly expanded his charitable mission to help orphaned children, families and refugees. Aware of the scale of the current humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, Hromada significantly stepped up the fundraising component of its operation when war broke out in February.

Hromada has no overhead and sends funds to Ukraine as they come in for immediate humanitarian assistance.

Born in Ukraine, Anon is a graduate of Stanford Business School and founder and CEO of Svitla Systems in the Bay Area, a high-tech company with an international profile. For the past four years, Anon and his colleagues at Hromada have been raising funds to help the children and families of Ukrainian soldiers fighting in the Donbass region. She says that in January this year, more than 3,000 children were already orphans.

“Since the start of the war, we have sent nearly $250,000 directly to charities and volunteers whom we trust from our previous relationships with them. They go directly into the war zones towards the most affected, the women and children. At this point there are over 50 organizations that we send micro grants to, $3,000 here, $2,000 there, $10,000 to other organizations, orphanages, refugee children and parents who have lost children. »

It tells the moving story of a group of orphans who were taken away from the besieged city of Mariupol, some of whom were born in 2022. Hromada sent funds to take care of newborn babies who were transferred to an orphanage in western Ukraine. Another charity in Dnipro, eastern Ukraine, which was not overrun, ferried trucks full of food, water and supplies to the bombarded city of Kharkiv. The supplies were distributed to refugees who were still in the city. Then the trucks were loaded with people who wanted to escape to safety in Dnipro. Hromada also sent money to organizations caring for children with special needs, such as autism or Down syndrome, and to buy food and water to distribute to the elderly in war zones.

“Through this work, I’ve been amazed at how many wonderful people I’ve met and how generous Americans are,” says Anon. She came to the United States 30 years ago and admires this country for the opportunities it offers immigrants for a better life. “The American Dream lives on despite everything you hear. I don’t know a single Ukrainian who came here and didn’t find his place in the sun. It is a truly blessed land.

Anon will be the spokesperson and master of ceremonies for the Forest Theater program and will share more information about the work of Hromada and their colleagues in Ukraine. A VIP evening for premium ticket holders will take place at the theater after the event, allowing attendees to talk to the artists in a more intimate setting, ask questions and enjoy a glass of wine.

The Pacific Repertory Theater made the space available by waving the main rental fee. Executive Director Stephen Moorer says: “At this time in the history of the world, I can’t imagine a more important cause.

The Ukraine Charity fundraiser takes place on Sundays from 3-5 p.m. Tickets are $40 per person and premium tickets are $60 (includes an afterparty with the artists). Tickets are available at the theater and online at www.hromada.us/concerts. Note that the website mainly contains information about the Ukrainian language, so click on “Concerts” in English, then on the Forest Theater program tab to buy tickets. When buying tickets online, please note in the comments: May 22 concert.

Although COVID protocols are subject to change, none are currently in place for this performance.

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