BY RITA HINTLIAN
GLENDALE—Armenian Relief Society of Western U.S.A. (ARS-WUSA) members converged in Desert Hot Springs for a seminar from January 20-22, 2012, with most of the 60 members traveling from Los Angeles County and some from Fresno and San Diego.
Apo Boghigian, Editor of the Asbarez Armenian Newspaper in Los Angeles, was quick to point out the spirit of charity that distinguishes the ARS mission from other organizations. He urged ARS members to not underestimate their strength and to jump into solving societal problems head on. As editor, Boghigian emphasized the importance of public relations, and encouraged ARS members to find the interesting stories to hook the readers to the important programs and accomplishments of the ARS.
Maral Chalian, Associate Director of Major Gifts and Planned Giving at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles and a member of the ARS Maro Chapter, shared her insights regarding fundraising from her experience at the hospital and KCET. She advocated a strategic approach to maximize fundraising potential from identification to cultivation, solicitation and stewardship. Seminar participants worked in small groups on how to approach dream projects, and presented their findings to all the attendees. Chalian observed that the same theme dominated the presentations.
Garo Moumdjian, a historian who is a consulting expert on the Middle East for federal agencies, provided another perspective on strategically accomplishing aims. His presentation concerned leading the ARS in such a way that as younger members join the organization, they are also prepared to eventually smoothly transition into leadership. He advocated changing the leadership pyramid into a circle and utilizing new technology. Moumdjian’s exercise for the participants was to come up with the top three challenges that the ARS faces and to develop a course of action to resolve one of the issues.
A team from World Vision Global Center led by Dr. Jean Bouchebel helped to strengthen ties with the ARS. Phyllis Freeman, National Disaster Director at World Vision, presented disaster readiness. She explained disaster readiness objectives, disaster basics, and how to plan flexibility into disaster responses. Freeman’s first-hand experiences and the World Vision way of planning for specific time-periods according to the needs of a community were insightful.
ARS-WUSA Regional Executive Chairperson, Dr. Nyree Derderian, MC’ed the seminar, presenting the speakers with certificates of appreciation, and thanking everyone for their participation.
The ARS-USA Regional Executive’s Educational Committee conducted a quiz bowl as a team-building exercise. The participants enthusiastically answered questions, and the hall erupted into the “Erepouni” song, when the answer to one of the questions was “Erepouni.” Arous Melkonian, Chair of the Educational Committee was pleased with the turnout and excited with the peculiar way that ARS members met the challenges throughout the windy weekend.
“Seminars such as this motivate and better equip our members to learn new practices and overcome any challenges in our changing times,” said Asdghig Chitilian, Chairperson of the Seminar Organizing Committee.
The ARS of Western USA, established in 1984 and with a regional headquarters in Glendale, has 27 chapters and over 1,500 members in 5 western states. The ARS operates a Social Services Division, a 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.