GLENDALE—The first fundraiser by the Syrian Armenian Relief Fund (SARF) was held on September 19 at the Phoenicia Restaurant in Glendale. More than 100 people attended the event, including representatives of the leadership of the organizations, which make up the coalition.
Sona Madarian, the SARF Executive Committee Secretary, made her welcoming remarks as the MC and reaffirmed the Armenians’ will to survive, recalling how Armenian Genocide survivors arrived in Syria, and rebuilt their lives. She invited the clergy, representing the Apostolic, Catholic and Evangelical denominations to bless the food. Throughout the program, each of the church leaders urged those present to do their part to help the Syrian-Armenians, during their time of need.
Rev. Fr. Krikor Chahinian, representing the Armenian Catholic Eparchy in North America, said that as we live as Christians, our hearts need to be open; our hearts will be open, when our hands are open, so that we can reach out to those who need our help.
Arch. Hovnan Derderian, representing the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America, expressed his concern for the endangered Syrian-Armenian population, welcomed the creation of the SARF committee, and hoped that the spirit of giving by the supporters becomes contagious to the rest of the community.
Rev. Joseph Matossian, representing the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America, thanked God that Armenians are resilient people and will endure through the crisis in Syria, and appealed to those present to do their share as a Christian brotherly responsibility, not as a burden.
Arch. Moushegh Mardirossian, representing the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America, who was instrumental in helping to bring the SARF coalition together, quoted His Holiness Aram I that we need to be committed to our responsibility to preserve and safeguard our communities in Syria. The Prelate recalled that the initial response to the crisis in Syria was to help the schools. The Prelate praised the Armenian Relief Society for accomplishing that objective early on. The Prelacy had called the boards of alumni associations of the schools in Syria to alert them of the situation, many of whom were attending the fundraiser. Recalling how the Armenians of Syria had provided assistance to the Armenians of Lebanon during the civil war, and noting how so many of the leadership in many communities have their roots in Syria, the Prelate urged those present to make their contributions.
Entertainment was provided by the duo “Yergnayin Dagher” (Heavenly Chants), flutist Sossy and harpist Salpy, who played moving musical selections.
Zaven Khanjian, SARF Executive Committee Chairperson, thanked everyone who made the event possible, and remarked, “You are here tonight because you care, you are a responsible person and whether you are able or not, you sure are willing to sacrifice, give of yourself, reach out, extend a hand to a community that has been devastated and because you realize and believe that the preservation of that community experiencing a calamity is of the highest national interest and priority.” The Evangelical community representative recalled his involvement in the assistance to help the Armenians in Lebanon during the 1970s, and provided information on what the local Syrian-Armenian emergency committees are doing. He said that the motto, “Poloren Polorin” (from everyone to everyone) fits how the various organizations have come together to help the Syrian-Armenian community, which provided invaluable and immeasurable contributions to the Diaspora. Khanjian appealed to extend a helping hand, provide hope, and inspire them to persevere. He ended his appeal with a question, “Did you contribute to the Syrian-Armenians?”
Meher Der Ohanessian, SARF Executive Committee Treasurer, praised all the contributors and reported the donations by the SARF-member organizations, alumni associations and the individual donors during the program, as well as through the mailed checks and on-line donations. The total reached $147 thousand.
The evening will be memorable of all the memories it invoked, and the collective commitment to help where help is needed. Due to the continuing conflict, the fundraising effort by SARF will continue.
Contributions can be mailed to Syrian Armenian Relief Fund, P.O. Box 1948, Glendale, CA 91209-1948 or by credit card at www.SyrianArmenianReliefFund.org.
The Syrian Armenian Relief Fund’s mission is to provide immediate assistance to the Syrian-Armenians, through the generous donations of the community in the Western United States, and the following network of churches, political parties and charity organizations, which operate in the region:
Armenian Catholic Eparchy in North America; Armenian Evangelical Union of North America; Western Diocese of the Armenian Church; Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America; Armenian General Benevolent Union; Armenian Missionary Association of America; Armenian Relief Society of Western U.S.A.; Armenian Democratic Liberal Party; Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Western U.S.A.; and Social Democrat Hunchakian Party-Western U.S.A.