BY MARIAM SAMONIANTZ
PICO RIVERA–Over 475 people gathered on March 8 to support the Mesrobian School at a dinner-dance sponsored and organized by the San Gabriel Valley ARF "Dro" Gomideh at its totally renovated community Center in Montebello. In an unprecedented gesture–the entire proceeds of the event was donated to the Mesrobian School. Community members from various backgrounds and organizations came together in a show of unity–to express their strong support for their community school.
Entering the Montebello Armenian Center Hall–the hundreds of guests were impressed by the extensive remodeling of the main hall–completed only a couple of days earlier to bring the center’s facilities well above what people usually expect from a community center. "It is now a community center that all Armenia’s can be proud to call their own," several observers noted. Gomideh executive members–together with the Renovation Committee–worked diligently to complete the process before the March 8 event.
Banquet Committee member Nazareth Sadorian served as master of ceremonies for the brief program–welcoming the guests–and presenting a brief historical background of the Mesrobian School and the Montebello community.
Speakers included Committee members Sarkis Nourian–School Principal Hilda Saliba–and "Dro" Gomideh Chairman Sarkis Sassounian. A special portion of the program included a presentation of a special honor to retired educator and ARF member Khatoune Pakradouni–for her 34 years of devoted teaching at Mesrobian School.
Principal Saliba thanked all community organizations and institutions for their continuous efforts on behalf of the school–in particular–the "Dro" Gomideh for its efforts in donating–close to $40,000 to the Mesrobian School over the last three months. Saliba also thanked the Parents-Faculty-Club–the Mesrobian Finance Committee–and the Mesrobian Foundation for their tireless dedication and financial support to the school. Saliba also thanked the "Dro" Gomideh Organizing Committee for a commendable job in mobilizing the community for the event that evening.
Spurred by the spirit of the evening–the Mesrobian Foundation donated an additional $10,000 to the school–joining several other community contributors in pledging their continuing support. The Foundation’s donation came barely a month after it had provided another $35,000 to the school from its own fundraising efforts.
Several generous individual donations as well as those on behalf of organizations were made during the festivities which included a very successful silent auction. The Auction included autographed basketballs by Lakers’ Shaquille O’Neal and Robert Horry–a first edition of Simon Vratzian’s "The Republic of Armenia," and other equally very valuable and unique items.
Overall–the deserving winner of the evening was the Mesrobian School and its students who reaped over $50.000–thanks to the combined efforts of the "Dro" Gomideh and the rest of the Armenian-American community.
The musical portion of the evening was a much awaited performance by Karnig Sarkisian.