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Out & About: Silent art auction benefits Afghan refugees settling in the Upper Valley

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 11/18/2021 11:44:14 AM
Modified: 11/18/2021 11:44:12 AM

LEBANON — This Friday’s Anonymous Coffeehouse performance will have a new addition: a silent art auction to benefit Afghan refugees who are resettling in the Upper Valley.

The auction will take place from 6 to 9 p.m., at the First Congregational Church in Lebanon. The music starts up at 7:30 p.m., with performances by Ava Burnham (7:30 p.m.), Rose Hip Jam (8:15 p.m.) and 2 x 2 (9 p.m.). For more information, contact the church at 603-448-4281 or

Graziella Parati, a founding member of the Lyme/Upper Valley Neighborhood Support Group, along with Divya Mishra, Martha Tecca and KJ Dell’Antonia. The group was formed to help Afghan refugees resettle in the Upper Valley. Parati was reaching out to houses of worship and schools in the area to find out where to host the silent auction when she connected with the church located at 10 S. Park St.

The proceeds will go to support families’ living expenses including rent and other necessities. 

“The First Congregational Church responded with enthusiasm,” said Parati, a Dartmouth professor who teaches Italian, comparative literature, and women’s and gender studies.

The church was happy to help. Outside the church, there is a banner welcoming immigrants and refugees.

“When we hung that banner, we were focused on our new neighbors coming up from Central and Latin America because they were getting all the press,” Pastor Stephen Silver said. “As the Afghan refugee crisis has emerged, it’s grabbed the attention of a lot of people, and I’m glad this is something we can do to help even if it’s just providing the space for the coffeehouse to take place and the auction to take place.”

The auction will feature works by 30 artists. It will be located in a room near the performances so attendees can easily view the pieces before returning to the music.

“It’s fantastic how many artists have participated in donating their work,” Parati said of the selection of items up for auction. “They are all incredibly beautiful. People can think about doing their Christmas shopping and at the same time donating to this project.”

Adam Sorscher, who organizes the Anonymous Coffeehouse, said the silent auction was a welcome addition. He spoke to the musicians who will be performing and the volunteers who will be present, who were all very supportive.

“They were all very supportive and excited that they had an opportunity to support such a great cause,” Sorscher said. “I think there’s always been an affinity between folk music and social causes.”

It’s the first time the coffeehouse has collaborated with another organization for a fundraiser and Sorscher said he’d be open to other opportunities.

Currently, the Lyme/Upper Valley Neighborhood Support Group is in the process of helping to settle a three-person family in the Upper Valley and is working on preparing for more to arrive.

“We are trying to be very practical and admit one family at a time and then figure out how much we can push our abilities and the possibilities that can arise from this sort of isolated area,” Parati said. “It’s extremely exciting and it’s extremely encouraging how much support we have received from the Upper Valley.”

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at or 603-727-3221.

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