GLENDALE—The entrance of sixty ARS honorees clad in tricolor ribbons entering the Glendale Hilton Hotel’s Grand Ballroom on Friday, April 27th for the Armenian Relief Society (ARS) of Western USA’s Gala 2012 sparked an overwhelming sentiment of joy for over 500 guests, whose standing ovation proved a most inspiring start to an eventful evening.
Each of the honorees was selected by their respective chapter of the ARS Western USA region to be recognized, on the occasion of the gala, for their excellence in service in categories including long-time member, financially supportive member, and exemplary member.
The momentous entrance followed with the start of the evening’s official program, commencing with welcoming remarks by Masters of Ceremony Grigor Ogaryan and Talar Aintablian, who introduced the evening’s guests. His Eminence Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, ARS Central Executive Chairperson Vicky Marashlian and Board Member Rosie Bedrossian, ACF Representative Anahit Aprahamian, Asbarez Editor Apo Boghigian, Los Angeles City Councilmember Eric Garcetti, Greg Krikorian of the Glendale Unified School District Board of Education, and representatives of sister organizations had joined ARS members and supporters for the celebratory evening. Thereafter, tenor Raffi Kerbabian sang the national and ARS anthems, accompanied by pianist Hovsep Torossian.
Following the invocation by Archbishop Mardirossian, Prelate of the Western Prelacy, guests watched a video message received for the occasion by Congressman Adam Schiff, after which they mingled and enjoyed dinner as entertainment was provided by an Armenian Folklore Music Group, directed by Ruben Haroutunyan.
Chairperson of the ARS Regional Executive Board Dr. Nyree Derderian delivered remarks and paid special mention to the commemoration of the Armenian Genocide that took place a few days prior on April 24th. She stated, “Three days ago, the Armenian nation commemorated the 97th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, a time of mourning, a time that no Armenian will ever forget. At that time, this nearly five-year old organization founded in the Diaspora, known today as the ARS, was by the side of Armenians during these horrific days assisting the displaced Armenians, who had survived the atrocities and found themselves in foreign lands mourning the loss of their loved ones…” Derderian touched on the local and international programs of the ARS of Western USA and congratulated the region’s 28th anniversary. Recognizing the ARS honorees, she further stated, “We celebrate our members, who through their dedicated years of service have always risen to the call of action. To be honored by your peers is the highest honor that can be bestowed on a person…”
Derderian introduced the keynote speaker, Judge Houry Sanderson, an active member of the ARS Fresno “Sophia” Chapter, whose topic covered “The Volunteer and the Code of Conduct of the Volunteer,” discussing the meaning of a true volunteer, its importance, and providing interesting information on volunteering rates among demographic groups. “We have rebuilt ourselves on the shoulders of an orphaned generation, which had the power to persevere, preserve and sustain itself to build the next several generations. We are the beneficiaries of their hard work and it is our responsibility, individually and collectively, and our duty to carry that work forward into the next millennium.”
As a means of introducing the ARS honorees to guests, a video presentation displayed personal photos of each of the 60 distinguished individuals. Later, a ceremony symbolizing the perpetuation of the ARS in an everlasting light ensued with 45 candle lighters, ranging from ARS chapters to supporters, illuminating their candles.
The ARS Regional Executive Board recognized Sona Zinzalian, ARS Social Services Executive Director, for her 30 years of service and presented her with a plaque in gratitude.
Also, Sevag Saghdejian and Nayeri Saghdejian-Kassajikian of Specialty Car Craft, which organized its First Annual Memorial Run on the occasion of April 24th where all proceeds benefited the ARS Armenia-Artsakh Orphans’ Fund, presented a $25,000 check to the ARS.
Throughout the evening, a recitation of a Baruyr Sevag poem by Grigor Ogaryan, the enjoyable selection of songs by tenor Raffi Kerbabian, as well as a duet by soprano Rima Garabedian and tenor Suren Mkrtchian, kept guests entertained and buzzing about their performances. A silent auction was also held in the lobby area with exclusive items by Le Papillon.
Guests left in high spirits and renewed faith in the programs and activities of the ARS Western USA region. The success of the event is due in large part to the efforts of the organizing committee, headed by Jasik Jarahian, General Manager of the ARS Regional Headquarters.