On May 31, thousands of Armenian-Americans were glued to their television sets watching as the ANCA Endowment Fund held its fundraising Telethon.
The telethon, filmed live at the Horizon Armenian Television Studios in Hollywood, California, attracted hundreds of volunteers who gathered to help put on an exciting show that would present the great contributions and talents of the Armenian people. The six hour program showcased all the hard work that has positively affected the lives of so many who have gone through the ANCA’s Capitol Gateway and internship programs or who have been educated about the Armenian Genocide and other issues important to our nation. That last point was definitely not lost on the audience. Thousands of Armenians from all over the country called in to pledge money for a cause in which they deeply believe, giving all of the volunteers who work with and for the ANCA Endowment Fund a chance to hear back from the people.
There was a very loud and distinct expression of gratitude that hit in a wave of six hours. Just the fact that the ANCA Endowment Fund was able to raise nearly $2.6 million in such a depressed economy is proof enough of what an impact it is making within Armenian communities across the country.
ANCA activist and volunteer Aida Dimedjian said, “I had an older couple call in and say they are on social security income, but would like to contribute and wished they could do more. It was touching to see how our elderly were willing to donate such a large portion of their income. I was additionally touched by all the people who thanked us for our hard work. When your community stands behind you, it empowers you to do more.” Activists and volunteers were so dedicated to making this years telethon such a success that they flew in from all over the country, like activist Stephanie Mesrobian who flew in from Rhode Island, to help in anyway they could to make a difference. The dedication shined through each and every one of the people who were in the studio that day.
Working the phones myself, I got to speak to so many people with such incredible stories. One woman, Araxi Minassian, spent nearly ten minutes telling me how many of her family members were massacred by the Turks and how even at 80 years old, her pride for the hard work she saw being presented was enough to make her feel a sense of satisfaction that she so needed after having such a tragic family history.
Lisa Sarkissian, from Meadow View, Illinois, had gathered and collected over 25 individual donations and decided to call in all of them as her community gathered at a local Armenian church and watched the telethon together. Her devotion to helping the ANCA as much as possible was a clear indication of how strongly she believes in what the organization stands for. There are countless other stories from the telethon volunteers about callers who expressed their thanks for all the incredible work that they do and who told them how proud of them they are.
Arek Santikian said, “Overall, I thought that the audience was amazing. I believe we almost matched the same amount as we did at for the last telethon, and we did that in a horrible economic climate. This shows that the number of our supporters has probably even grown since last time, and that our work and message are becoming very effective within the Diaspora. It is important to note that the ANCA Endowment Fund Telethon is broadcast only in the US, even though there was a very large donation from Argentina. My point is that given the fact that this Telethon doesn’t reach out to the entire Trans-continental Armenian community, we are doing very well. Also, with such personable and impressive personalities, such as Aram Hamparian and Ken Hachikian, the ANCA has done very well in attracting a large audience.”
Aside from the $2.6 million, the greatest reward was the joy in the heart of every Armenian who chose to contribute to continue a legacy, a legend, and an important Cause. But most gratifying of all is the fact that our community operates almost entirely through the grass roots activism of volunteers who comprise our army, and it is through their various contributions of monetary donations, time, expertise, and sheer dedication , that our goals will be achieved.