LOS ANGELES—Over 450 supporters and members of the Armenian Relief Society (ARS) of Western USA gathered at the Taglyan Cultural Complex on May 2 to take part in the ARS 30th Anniversary Gala. The occasion marked the 30th anniversary of the region’s establishment as a separate entity in the Western United States.
The evening commenced with a cocktail hour, which offered a delightful opportunity for guests to socialize, participate in the silent auction, and view photo displays depicting past and present ARS chapter activities.
Official guests included Rev. Fr. Ardag Demirjian, representing His Eminence Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Western Prelate; Deputy Consul General of the Republic of Armenia in Los Angeles Artak Galstyan; ARS Central Executive Chairperson Vicky Marashlian and members Annie Kechichian and Rosie Bedrossian; ARF Central Committee representative Dr. Viken Hovsepian; ANCA Western Region Chairperson Nora Hovsepian; Congressman Adam Schiff’s representative Mary Hovagimian; Glendale City Mayor Zareh Sinanyan; Glendale City Councilmember Ara Najarian; Glendale City Treasurer Rafi Manoukian; Los Angeles City Councilmembers Paul Krekorian and Mitch O’Farrell, as well as representatives of sister organizations, supporters, and numerous ARS members.
The event program was led by Master of Ceremonies Taleen Hindoyan, an ARS Pasadena “Sosse” Chapter member, and Glendale City Clerk Ardashes (Ardy) Kassakhian. Tenor Suren Mkrtchyan sang the American, Armenian, and ARS national anthems, accompanied by the Glendale Chamber Orchestra and its conductor Maestro Mikayel Avetisyan.
Rev. Fr. Ardag Demirjian performed the invocation and conveyed the Prelate’s blessings and well wishes.
The dinner hour featured an engaging video showcasing the ARS of Western USA’s programs and activities throughout the past 30 years.
Remarks were delivered by Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Krekorian, Glendale City Mayor Zareh Sinanyan, and Glendale City Councilmember Ara Najarian. All three officials commended the dedicated work of the ARS and pledged to continue providing financial assistance for the success of the humanitarian mission of the organization.
Krekorian cited in his remarks that a hand-woven flag gifted by the ARS on the occasion of the 200th Anniversary of the City of Los Angeles, can still be found at Los Angeles City Hall. Later, he presented a $50,000 check for ARS Social Services to ARS Regional Executive Chairperson Lena Bozoyan. Sinanyan presented a congratulatory certificate on behalf of the Glendale City Council.
Chairperson Lena Bozoyan welcomed guests on behalf of the ARS Regional Executive Board and affirmed that the ARS, remaining true to its mission, will continue to serve its people and nation. She stated, “We will soon mark the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and, a century later, we continue to remember and collectively raise our voices for our rightful demands. The challenges facing our nation and throughout the Diaspora are many and the needs of our Syrian Armenian brethren remain at the forefront of our organization’s priorities, as well as communities at large.”
Bozoyan conveyed her hope that Kessab will soon be liberated and rebuilt with unified efforts. In conclusion, she called upon the attendees to renew their pledge to the mission of the ARS with a determined will to continue to work towards strengthening Armenia, Artsakh, Javakhk, and the Diaspora. She concluded by extending the Regional Executivc Board’s heartfelt thanks to all sponsors, donors, chapters, gala committee members, office staff and all volunteers that made the event possible.
Thereafter, the first Regional Executive Board members (1984-1985 term) Alice Madenlian (chairperson), Hasmig Derderian, Mako Mgrditchian, Alice Gureghian, Annig Sahagian, Annig Zindarsian, and Anne Kevorkian (posthumous) were recognized. As a token of appreciation for their committed efforts, floral bouquets were presented to the honorees. Kevorkian’s bouquet was presented to her daughter, Barbara Mortanian, a member of the ARS Fresno “Sophia” chapter.
ARS Central Executive Board member Annie Kechichian delivered remarks, congratulating the 30th Anniversary of the region. She commended its local and international efforts, and underscored the ARS’ moral and financial support towards preserving the Armenian language and culture.
Upon highlighting the organization’s compassionate approach towards its people, she stated, “…Starting from the earthquake in Armenia, to the Artsakh liberation movement, the re-independence of the Republic of Armenia, the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, including Syria, and Aleppo and Kessab in particular, the ARS of Western USA continues to stand in support of our people in Armenia, Artsakh, Javakhk, and anywhere in the world where we are most needed.”
An honorary plaque was presented to Mr. & Mrs. Garo and Alice Gureghian on behalf of the ARS Regional Executive Board. The couple has demonstrated steadfast support toward the organization and generously became the Major Banquet Sponsor for the Gala.
The Regional Executive also honored Mr. & Mrs. Hacob and Mina Shirvanian and Mr. Kahren Beniasians in appreciation for their moral and financial support throughout the past 30 years.
Guests were entertained by the Glendale Chamber Orchestra led by Maestro Mikayel Avetisyan, Soprano Nune Genjoyan and Tenor Suren Mgrditchian. Traditional Armenian dances were performed by the Davigh Dance group, led by choreographer Sona Avetisyan.
Significantly, Congressman Adam Schiff and California State Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian sent special certificates to commend the honorees for their volunteer efforts and humanitarian services.
A candle lighting ceremony concluded the evening’s program, during which the ARS Central Executive, Regional Executive, chapters, members, guests, and supporters lit 100 candles.
The gala concluded late in the evening, sparking renewed vigor among its attendees, many of whom would attend the ARS: Empowering Generations Seminar the next day.
The Armenian Relief Society of Western USA, established in 1984 and with regional headquarters in Glendale, Calif., has 26 chapters and more than 1,200 members in four western states. The ARS-WUSA operates a Social Services Division and Child, Youth, and Family Guidance Center, and funds numerous youth programs, scholarships, and relief efforts. For further information, please visit www.arswestusa.org or call 818.500.1343.