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The original item was published from 4/16/2023 10:29:19 AM to 4/25/2023 12:00:01 AM.

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News & Town Board Reports (gblist)

Posted on: April 16, 2023

[ARCHIVED] Ukraine still needs our help--concert to raise funds for victims on April 23rd

Classical pianist Irena Portenko will be performing on April 23rd at 5 PM, Grace Church
Irena discusses her family experiences



“You never walk alone” is not a cliché. Living in Westchester gave me a sense of community and an understanding about a feeling of “having a shoulder”. By accepting help and by being embraced by compassion, I gladly share it as well.

The immediate reaction of shock and helplessness has constantly been in dissonance with unexpectedly beautiful and embracing community’s response since the very start of the war in Ukraine. This is where a word “unexpectedly” comes from: Ukraine is overseas, and we are here. However, with profound kindness and support, that has reached from here to Ukraine so many times, the notion of distance has seemed to lose its importance. Immediate contacts and finding solutions have been created in something resembling a networking matrix, available 24/7. Being able to connect to people with conceptual ideas and vision has been a true blessings to me. My family, whom I have brought from Ukraine last year are especially grateful for the attention and support from Greenburgh community, the Health Center on Knollwood road, the White Plains Hospital, the government organizations who have made their transition, so thorny in the beginning, but much smoother now. I can’t thank enough to Paul Feiner for his leadership and dedication to the community. For Paul there are no small or postponed problems, his incredible responsiveness and a talent of recognizing the immediate needs along with finding solutions reflects the community feeling that I discovered for myself.

My communication with Tara Framer of Greenburg, Holly Rosen Fink of Mamaroneck, Patricia Gaffney of Scarsdale-Yorktown, Jennifer Kahan of Scarsdale and many more “good samaritans” has planted an eternal seed of gratitude in my heart. Thanking and admiring them for taking so many problems close to their heart and for their ability to visualize and build a potential outcome from the idea to the successful ending point.

Yes, I personally was scared of the war, when it started. Hearing shelling through the phone during conversations with the family and friends felt apocalyptic, when I kept finding myself to be searching for a button to end this horrible video game.

Two simple things picked me up and navigated toward decision making and action: a reality and a reminiscence. First, the reality, which was an enormous ongoing support of so many people around me. Secondly and lastly, it was a story of my Polish grandma, who, in the occupied Ukraine during the World War 2, while risking her own life and the lives of her family was hiding Jewish kids in the basement of their house in Southeastern Ukraine. In the village swarming with Nazi, she, who spoke perfect German, for several years was able to navigate those kids from their basement to the partisans, who’d take them further to safety. From my grandma Irena, who left, but a trace of her still lives in gratitude of those saved by her and their families, in her nine medals on a little pillow for partisan’s honor from the World War 2 and, in her stories of vision and courage engraved in my memory.

While still helping people who are losing their homes and loves ones, I would like to take my time to thank our beautiful community for such a generous support of the people, who fled the war and those who are at war now. 

I am a musician, and my mission is to gather people, to spread the beauty and healing through the sounds of music. With my wonderfully talented and loyal friends Stefan Szkafarowsky, Svetlana Gorokhovich, Korliss Uecker, Jeffrey Palmer, Joey Mannino and Cuarto Punros Ensemble I am proud to present a concert “In the Company of Friends” on April 23rd, 2023 at 5:00pm in a beautiful and historic Grace Church in White Plains. The proceeds of the concert will benefit the United Help Ukraine organization, “Save a Child” NGO, and my GoFundMe for displaced Ukrainian musicians.


Paul Feiner

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