On Saturday, Sept. 24, a benefit concert for the people of Ukraine will bring together many of Eugene’s local choruses along with Ukrainian performers and dancers..
The event takes place 4 to 7 pm at the Community of Christ Church. A large backyard behind the church will have tables selling arts and crafts, Songs for Ukraine T-shirts and more, according to organizer Ron Raynes, while performers fill the space with music. While no tickets will be required for attendance, there’s a suggested donation of $10 that will go to the Ukrainian Foundation, an Oregon-based nonprofit that sends food, medical supplies and some military supplies to Ukraine.
“I think one of the marvelous things about this event is that this is really the first time that all of the major choruses in Eugene have come together,” says Raynes, creator of Songs for Ukraine. Some of the choruses involved include the Women’s Choral Soceity, the Eugene Gay Men’s Chorus and the Eugene Gleemen — which Raynes is a part of.
As Raynes says, he does not have an ounce of Ukrainian blood in him. But he says after seeing reports on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, he couldn’t just stand by and do nothing. For Raynes, organizing this concert is doing his part to help the Ukrainian people.
Although some have voiced concerns to Raynes that funding will go to a political cause supporting the war effort, Raynes emphasizes that the proceeds are not going to a political cause but a humanitarian one.
“I was just horrified by the aggression happening in Ukraine,” Raynes says, “and thinking, what can I possibly do to help?”
He says he pulled from the local choirs he has been performing with for over the last decade, as well as his professional life as a senior scientist at Alden’s Organic ice cream to get performers and food donations for the event. Through personal connections he also was able to arrange for Ukrainian food — specifically borscht and Ukrainian dumplings known as vareniki — to be available at the event.
While Raynes may not be a part of the Ukrainian community himself, Tayna Bucierka, who is helping him organize the event, is.
Currently living and working in Eugene but being raised in Rochester, New York as a third-generation immigrant from Ukraine, Bucierka has lived and breathed the Ukrainian American community her whole life. She even dedicates her time as an emergency room doctor to travel to Ukraine and provide medical training and assistance to doctors and refugees.
Bucierka hopes not just to bring the Eugene and Ukrainian communities together at Songs for Ukraine, but also to remind people that there is still a war going on in a beautiful, peaceful country — even if it has fallen off the national headlines.
“It’s still very real,” Bucierka says. “Innocent people are losing their lives, civilians are losing their lives, and we need to keep it in the forefront and do what we can.”
Songs for Ukraine is at Community for Christ Church, 1485 Gilham Road, on Sep. 24 from 4-7pm. Eight total performances will take place with 15 to 20 minute sets each. Outdoor concert. Attendees are advised to bring chairs and blankets. $10 suggested donation per person. Donations can be directly made to the Ukrainian Foundation through Ukrainian.foundation/sfu/.