Live and in-person ‘Slavic Celebration’ returns

SEE INCLUDED COLORFUL VIDEO | 9 Photos | Discover why the ‘2023 Slavic & Eastern European Celebration’ was more than just a party, and how it will help people in outer East Portland communities …

In the lobby, here welcoming guests to the “2023 Slavic & Eastern European Celebration!”, are Nadia Dryuk, the Happy Bear, and Ulina Trofinko.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

The last time the “Slavic and Eastern European Heritage Celebration and Open House” was held publicly, before the COVID-19 pandemic closed things down, was on January 10, 2019. It was on the campus of the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO). CLICK HERE to read about that event.

This year, a new form of the festivities, renamed the “2023 Slavic & Eastern European Celebration!”, took place at the Sheraton Portland Airport Hotel, on Thursday evening, January 26.

Celebration organizer Nelli Salvador pauses for a photo with his “big helpers”, Elena Sizmin and Olena Bilyk.

“Tonight, we are celebrating our fifth anniversary of forming the Slavic and European Center (SEC) at IRCO,” explained hostess and organizer Nelli Salvador, a manager of the Catholic Charities Save First Financial Wellness program, and a director of the SEC.

“This year is more than just a celebration; it is also recognition of what we have done with our Center during the last three difficult years, during the pandemic,” Salvador told East Portland News.

Guests check in and receive their auction credentials.

The delicious supper buffet includes a tossed garden salad with dressing, grilled and sautéed mixed vegetables, rice, and two fish dishes.

“This is our fundraiser; we hope to raise as much as $25,000 this evening to support newcomers and refugees, specifically from Ukraine, through our sale of 150 dinner tickets and a live auction with a project appeal,” added Salvador.

Some 30 volunteers helped put on this event, Salvador remarked – Included those who helped set it up, the musical entertainers; and the evening’s emcee, Natasha Haunsperger, from the Portland Police Bureau’s Office of Community Engagement

Watch this video to get the feeling of what it was like at this revived community celebration:

“Here, we would like to show the diversity of our community; and we want to be ‘visible’ here in Portland,” Salvador commented. “And, as part of the program, we will show what we have done for our communities, and why it’s important to have a culturally-specific Center.”

Bandurist Valentyn Lysenko, inventor of the electric bandura (an Ukrainian mandolin-like string instrument), here musically entertains.

150 attendees tuck into their scrumptious, toothsome suppers as the event continues.

“And, part of this celebration sharing our cultures with the people [of Portland],” Salvador explained. “Because, although diversity, getting to know the culture of others helps people understand how many things we all have in common.”

Portland City Commissioner Dr. Mingus Mapps addresses the gathering.

One of the evening’s speakers, Portland City Commissioner Dr. Mingus Mapps, said that he was glad to see that this celebration was taking place in outer East Portland.

“I spent a lot of time working, right in Parkrose; and, I see some of my Parkrose friends around the room here” Mapps pointed out. “The Slavic and Eastern European community has done, and continues to do, incredible work in East Portland – keeping it vibrant, resilient, and robust.

Inside the banquet room, a side table is laden with copious Slavic and Eastern European desserts and delicacies.

Mapps continued, “After the years we’ve just gone through with COVID and economic downturns, this organization continues to support their community well, and it’s just wonderful,” he remarked. “I hope that this time next year, we’re looking forward to see this community even stronger and more vibrant than ever.”

One bidder card goes up after another as the funds appeal is made.

To learn more about the Slavic and Eastern European Center, CLICK HERE.

>> On our Front Page: Julia Cheredayko and Max Boyko are welcoming guests.

© 2023 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™

 

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