NEW YORK–Heavy winds and bitterly cold temperatures did not keep Armenian and Greeks activists in support of the Obama-Biden ticket from attending a joint fundraiser event "Opa for Obama" at Lafayette Bar and Grill owned by Greek owners and brothers Billy and Dino Bakakos in New York City on Tuesday, October 28, 2008.
The event organized by Armenia’s for Obama and Greeks for Obama encouraged a diverse group of enthusiastic supporters in attendance from New Jersey and New York to find out what they can do in the final days before the campaign. The event’s highlights included speakers like Virginia Davies, who serves on Obama’s Tri-State Finance committee, actor Tate Donovan, Greeks for Obama activist Dean Sirigos and Armenia’s for Obama activist and Armenian National Committee of America, Eastern Region Executive Director Karine Birazian.
Serving as master of ceremonies was Nicole Vartanian, an Armenia’s for Obama activist, who opened the evening by speaking about the overwhelming support of Armenia’s and Greeks throughout the nation and abroad who support the campaign and the great benefits the communities will reap come victory on November 4th. Vartanian reflected on her experiences of helping with the campaign, including canvassing in Pennsylvania.
Vartanian introduced Ms. Virginia Davies, who has been a dedicated leader in New York State, organizing fundraisers, participating in phone banking, coordinating trips to battleground states, as well as being a strong liaison to Obama volunteers and campaign offices throughout Manhattan and New York’s other boroughs.
"It’s wonderful for me to be here tonight. I am of Armenian descent, I am the granddaughter of sole survivors of the 1915 genocide," Davies said. "Which is why, after about 18 months, I still get up every morning and say what can I do for Senator Obama today, and I go to bed every night saying I have not done enough."
Davies stressed the importance of this election and how it is about preparing the future for her children and her grandchildren. Echoing Davies’ commen’s that we still need to push forward and do what we can, actor and avid Obama supporter Tate Donovan engaged the crowd with his energetic speech and experiences of volunteering for the campaign in Iowa during the caucuses and throughout the nation.
"It’s like running a marathon; we’ve got to run every single step down to the finish line," Donovan said, reflecting on his childhood growing up near Peter Balakian, the prize-winning author of works on the Armenian Genocide. Donavan also spoke on how the Obama-Biden campaign encompasses all those that represent the United States of America.
Speaking on behalf of the Greeks for Obama, Dean Siragos thanked those for coming and their financial support. Commenting on the importance of this ticket,
"What we need is a government that responds to the needs of all of its citizens, to make people around the world and Americans more secure, through a harmony of power and principle which is one of the things he and Senator Biden believes in," Siragos said, speaking about his experiences working for the American Hellenic Institute in Washington, DC to advocate for those issues alongside Armenia’s.
In closing, Birazian stressed the vital importance of taking action over the next few days. Focusing on Senator Obama’s commitment to recognizing the Armenian Genocide, and other pledges he has made, Birazian restated the importance as to why the Obama-Biden ticket is so important for Armenian and Greek American communities and the need to get active.
"If this is your first event you are attending in support of Senator Obama that is okay. We need everyone to take action, even if you have never made a call or knocked on someone’s door before," Bryzian said, encouraging people to travel with her to Pennsylvania. "We will teach you, because come November 5th, it will be too late."
Birazian also mentioned a phone banking session that will take place on November 1st from 11 am to ‘s3 pm at the Armenian Center in Queens located at 69-23 47th Avenue, Woodside, N.Y. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 917-518-6686.
Armenia’s for Obama is a nationwide voter registration, education, and mobilization effort dedicated to electing Barack Obama President. Based in Los Angeles and with chapters and affiliates across the country, Armenia’s for Obama will harness the energy and enthusiasm for Barack Obama’s candidacy to ensure record high Armenian American turnout in critical battleground states.