Tuesday, December 07, 2021

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BHS Music Makers 'Sing Them Home' Concert to Benefit CT Refugee Resettlement

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Free will donations collected at Branford High School Music Makers' 'Sing Them Home' Dec. 1 benefit concert will support Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Service (IRIS) and Branford's Helping Families Settle (HFS) volunteers as they respond to an urgent need to resettle refugee families who have been evacuated from Afghanistan and other areas of the Middle East and Africa.

Photo Courtesy BHS Music Makers

Free will donations collected at Branford High School Music Makers' 'Sing Them Home' Dec. 1 benefit concert will support Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Service (IRIS) and Branford's Helping Families Settle (HFS) volunteers as they respond to an urgent need to resettle refugee families who have been evacuated from Afghanistan and other areas of the Middle East and Africa. (Photo courtesy BHS Music Makers)

Students of Branford High School (BHS) A Capella singing group, Music Makers, will perform "Sing Them Home," a benefit concert on Wednesday, Dec. 1, 7 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Branford, 1009 Main St.

The benefit will support Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Service (IRIS) and Branford's Helping Families Settle (HFS) volunteers as they respond to an urgent need to resettle refugee families who have been evacuated from Afghanistan and other areas of the Middle East and Africa.

The students have been working on this project since September, after they learned about Connecticut's efforts to help approximately 300 Afghan refugee families relocate. After hearing about HFS and IRIS efforts and the growing crisis in Afghanistan, the students decided to utilize their talents to help the effort.

The goals for the event are to raise awareness about HFS and IRIS efforts; to encourage audience members to learn more about how they can help the cause by volunteering for various support committees; to raise funds in support of refugee resettlement needs and to inspire other high school choirs around the state to launch their own "Sing Them Home" benefits.  The students will be preparing a "benefit production tool kit" to help other schools produce similar events in towns and cities that will be hosting refugee families.

The concert will feature an eclectic program of musical pieces, as well as stories and comments from IRIS, HFS, and students whose family members are refugees. There will also be opportunities to sign up for committees to help families directly over the course of the next year as they become self-sufficient and contribute to the vitality of Connecticut's Communities.

"This production is really coming together. The students have rallied behind this cause, and they are learning so much about the situation in Afghanistan and how to contribute to their communities," commented Michael Martone, BHS Music Director.

Student organizers Ariel Cobden and Liev Shpitalnik agreed in their statement, saying, "...it has been a great opportunity to learn about how to set up a production that actually creates a positive change in the town we live in. We are excited to do our part to help welcome our new neighbors!"

Laura Noe, HFS leader and coordinator, applauded the students' effort.

"We live in a beautiful, generous, and inclusive community," said Noe. "Our refugee resettlement co-sponsorship group is made up of smart people with big hearts. I am proud to work alongside these folks who live their values. We are stronger together."

The event is general admission, with the choir asking people to "pay from the heart" and donate at the door. First Congregational Church of Branford has offered the students its sanctuary to host the concert. Businesses are encouraged to consider sponsorship in exchange for visibility at the event and on social media. For more information contact Liev Shpitalnik at lshpitalnik@branfordschools.org.

BHS Music Makers is an auditioned group and vocal class for the school's most talented grade 10-12 students. The group performs throughout the year, with the students also often serving as Musical Ambassadors for town events, ceremonies, and programs. Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services (IRIS) is a non-profit agency whose mission is to help refugees and other displaced people establish new lives, strengthen hope, and contribute to the vitality of Connecticut's communities. Welcoming persecuted people from other countries is America's most noble tradition. IRIS helps newcomers on the road to self-sufficiency by providing lifesaving support during transition to life in the United States. www.irisct.org   Helping Families Settle is Branford's refugee resettlement project. HFS is a community-based co-sponsorship group collaborating with IRIS. The group is managing 17 committees and 30+ volunteers who are working together to create a welcoming, safe, respectful new home for a refugee family.

 


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