BY FLORENCE AVAKIAN
PARAMUS, NJ—“’We’ve got to do something,’ they said, they did, and they continue to do so,” stated Zaven Khanjian, Executive Director and CEO of the Armenian Missionary Association of America.
By “they,” he is referring to the dedicated couple, John and Michèle Simourian. Through “commitment, goodwill, and action,” the Simourian’s devoted their time and inspired members of the AMAA to help the survivors of the 1988 earthquake in Armenia 30 years ago.
For the last four decades, the Simourian’s have continued to dedicate their efforts to the values and work of the AMAA, an outstanding Christian non-sectarian organization.
2018 was the 100th anniversary of the founding of the AMAA, a symbolic date for this noteworthy organization that has been the “Good Samaritan” to many people in need—orphans, widows, the poverty-stricken, sick, and grieving around the world.
AMAA’s vital and dynamic work of more than 100 years will be celebrated, in grand style, at a banquet in Boston, on Saturday, October 19. John and Michèle Simourian will be co-chairs of the banquet.
In a brief telephone conversation, Michèle Simourian said, “Out of our great respect for its sterling reputation, and what it stands for during the past 100 years, it has been a privilege to be involved with the AMAA. Also, our intense love for our Armenian ancestry has played a huge role in working for our people.”
“The AMAA Orphan and Child Care Program, ‘a birth-child of the earthquake,’ has continued to serve the impoverished children of Armenia and Artsakh,” stated Khanjian.
Michèle Simourian, an AMAA Board member and founding co-chair of the program, has “vigorously led and served it” for more than 25 years.
An AMAA Celebration in Armenia
Last year the AMAA celebrated its centennial in Armenia by inaugurating the new AMAA Community Center and Sanctuary in Gyumri, which was the epicenter of the earthquake. “It celebrated the revival of Armenia’s historical epicenter of cultural heritage and intellectual treasure,” declared Khanjian. The center “will bring joy, add a smile on the faces of its children, and bring honor to God,” he added.
John Simourian, who has been a long-time member of First Armenian Church of Belmont, Massachusetts, and past trustee, will serve as Master of Ceremonies of the banquet. He revealed that he had become involved with the AMAA through association with his “wife’s leadership.”
This is “a wonderful and far-reaching organization, going strong for more than 100 years. It responds to the physical and spiritual needs of the helpless, and the homeless,” he commented.
Simourian said he was looking forward to his role as banquet MC, working with the Banquet Committee members and developing an interesting program for the October 19 celebration.
With obvious emotion, Zaven Khanjian stated, “Our task as the blessed recipients of those who walked before us is set, and we are ready to embrace the future. With added resources, expanded services and multiplied vigor, a brighter future is on the horizon of the mission of the AMAA.”