Sing-along fundraiser set for Russian immigrant in sanctuary

  • Irida Kakhtiranova in her room where she lives at the Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence. The wife of a U.S. citizen and the mother of three children who are citizens, Kakhtiranova is a Russian immigrant facing deportation. STAFF FILE PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

For the Gazette
Published: 2/21/2019 11:35:33 PM

NORTHAMPTON — The Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence is hosting “Rock out for Irida,” a fundraising event Saturday for Irida Kakhtiranova, a Russian immigrant who has been living in sanctuary.

The event will be led by Tony Lechner, founder of Rock Voices Inc. and an award-winning director and composer. Rock Voices Inc. has five Massachusetts locations listed on its website, including one in Hadley and one in Northampton.

Laurie Loisel, president of the Unitarian Society’s board of trustees, is part of the society’s sanctuary team. She said they want to make sure Kakhtiranova is safe and comfortable in their care.

“One of the things we talk about regularly is money,” Loisel said.

David Wick, another member of the sanctuary team and a singer with Rock Voices Inc., said he got the idea from the group Choir! Choir! Choir!, which is based out of Ontario, Canada, and teaches large groups of people to sing together in one day. “Rock out for Irida” follows the same concept.

“A whole lot of people have spread the word using word of mouth,” Wick said.

Wick mentioned that a successful chorus works similarly to sanctuary, in that all the parts work individually but they work better together.

“That is really what providing sanctuary is about,” Wick said.

Wick said there are a lot of people in the Valley who like to sing and that the event is one way to broaden the group of people who come support sanctuary efforts.

“One of the things we are trying to do in fundraising is making it fun for the community,” Loisel said.

The sanctuary fund is designed to keep Kakhtiranova comfortable and safe, help her family during her absence, and offset the cost of her legal fees as she fights deportation.

“Rock out for Irida” is scheduled from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday in the Unitarian Society’s Great Hall, located at 220 Main Street, Northampton. Organizers are asking for a $10 suggested donation, or $15 for pairs.

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