$250 Can Feed 80 Families for One Day in Syria
MONTEBELLO—The Armenian Relief Society (ARS) of Western USA, 93rd Annual Regional Convention took place at a time when the “Bnag meh Geragour” (“A Bowl of Food) program by our sister organization in Syria is feeding hungry families in Aleppo. The convention heard the report by the ARS Central Executive representative, Annie Kechichian, that a $250 donation can feed 80 families for a day. The priority placed on helping the schools and communities in Syria for the second year in a row, had a powerful impact on how the convention evaluated the accomplishments of the past year and set forth a path to accomplish programs during the upcoming year.
Sixty-eight delegates from 24 chapters from Arizona, California and Nevada, Regional Executive Board members, and guests participated in the convention held at the Armenian Center in Montebello, California from July 12 through 14, 2013. The Montebello Nairy Chapter was the host of the convention with Arpik Najarian leading the organization committee members.
Lena Bozoyan, Chairperson of the Regional Executive Board presented opening remarks and introduced the special guests. Western Prelacy Prelate Arch. Moushegh Mardirossian was accompanied by Rev. Fr. Ashod Kambourian and Prelacy Executive Council Chairperson Rima Boghossian.
ARS Central Executive Board (CEB) Chairperson Vicky Marashlian attended the meeting. The ARS CEB representative to the meeting was Annie Kechichian. The ARF Central Committee representative to the meeting was Dr. Vicken Yacoubian. The local ARF Tro Committee representative to the opening ceremony was Levon Kirakosian, Esq. The ARS Eastern USA Regional Executive representative was Taline Mkrtschjan. The ARS Regional Executive’s guests to the convention were Hasmig Derderian, Rita Hintlian and Khatoune Pakradouni. Additionally, the convention elected Sossie Poladian, Sossie Gabriel and Roubina Pakradouni as guests.
Bozoyan made welcoming remarks and stated that the ARS encountered enormous financial difficulties during the year, and faces challenges of passing on the torch to the new generation and expanding the adoption of new technologies. She remarked that the enormous needs of the Syrian Armenians are at the forefront, as the needs in Armenia, Artsakh and Javakhk continue. The Regional Executive chairperson noted that the convention is a place where participants learn about the organizational culture and seventeen (17) members were delegates for the first time at this convention.
Arch. Mardirossian noted His Holiness Catholicos Aram I’s proclamation of the year 2013 as the “Year of the Armenian Mother”, and praised the service of ARS members to young and old as that of a caring and devoted mother. His Eminence said that as participants gain experience during conventions, similarly, their commitment and spirit of service should increase. The Prelate praised the dedicated service of the Regional Executive and members, and blessed the convention.
The ARS CEB representative Annie Kechichian addressed the convention and on behalf of the Central Executive Board wished for successful proceedings, and hoped that the delegates bring forth constructive ideas and ratify beneficial resolutions, which can be realized during the next year, with special consideration for any budgetary impacts. During the closing statements, Kechichian noted that the convention is a fine opportunity to get together and reaffirm our oath. She added that when we approach the issues with a positive attitude, it is a win for our organizational mission and goals. She said that as we devote our strengths and join in spirit of service for the ARS, our cooperation and solidarity will help us succeed and reach our goals.
The Montebello ARF representative, Levon Kirakosian, remarked that the ARS members’ volunteerism with their gift of time and love to the people is the best example that our youth could have today. He also raised the issue of the abuses suffered by women all over the world, including in Armenia.
The ARS Eastern USA representative Taline Mkrtschjan was very pleased to be with her counterparts on the west coast, and attend the convention with her aunt Khatoune Pakradouni. She noted that the noble goals of the ARS do not change with far distances, and the same call to duty to help the Syrian Armenians reaches them with the same intensity.
The convention continued with the election of co-chairpersons Dr. Nyree Derderian and Arousyak Melkonian. In addition, Nazik Arisian, Sossie Djabrayan, Maral Matossian and Meganoush Melkonian were elected as convention secretaries (2 for English and 2 for Armenian). Khatoune Pakradouni was appointed by the convention officers as Parliamentarian, Rita Hintlian was appointed as Reporter and Nairy chapter members Alice Keshishian, Leone Mooradian, Hasmig Ourfalian and Pauline Altounian were appointed Sergeant-at-Arms.
The Credentials Committee members Ankine Agopian, Arpy Tanielian and Maida Bezdjian verified that the convention could continue on in accordance to the ARS bylaws. The convention chose to elect a Nominations Committee with Silva Poladian, Nora Shirikian, Lara Kazandjian, Arsho Sassounian and Mako Setrakian. The elected Resolutions Committee members were Asdghig Chitilian, Talin Hindoyan and Vera Kambourian. The Archives Committee members were Maral Bastilian, Christine Hovnanian and Emma Garabetian.
The convention agenda includes times that the conventioneers have to wait for a committee to complete an assignment. A video provided an overview of the activities of the past year. The agenda included questions of clarification regarding the Regional Executives reports, including the Social Services and Child, Youth and Family Guidance Center. Dr. Levon Jernazian was on hand to provide answers to questions about the guidance center. Dr. Sevag Avakian of the ARS Mother and Child Clinic and Birthing Center in Akhourian, Armenia, presented the challenges faced by the clinic where 9,056 newborns were born during the past eight years, and the cooperation with UNICEF vaccination and USAID women’s health programs. Zaven Khanjian, chairperson of the Syrian Armenian Relief Fund (SARF) Executive Committee, took the opportunity to thank the ARS for helping SARF.
Annie Kechichian presented the report of the ARS CEB, where the activities of the CEB board members and staff during the past year, and membership of the ARS in 27 countries were detailed. She noted that despite difficulties relating to lack of food supplies, the ARS region in Syria, is providing food for 80 families three times a week. Donors are being sought to sponsor the “Bnag me Geragour” (A Bowl of Food) program for $250. Vicky Marashlian elaborated on the cost of repairs needed for the ARS Sosse Kindergarten in Stepanakert in Artsakh.
The convention ratified bylaws amendments, the highly commendable resolution regarding the activities of the past year presented by the Resolutions Committee, discussed and ratified a number of resolutions regarding organizational reporting, media communications, high school awards and continuing programs, finishing up with adoption of a proposed budget. This year, the accounting system was upgraded, the presentation by General Manager Jasik Jarahian looked revised, but a familiar audit report was received from an independent auditor.
The ARS-WUSA Regional Executive board members Judy Jingirian, Zharmen Mirzakhanyan, Angele Ohannessian, Liza Santikian and Armenouhi Tomassian had completed their 2-year terms. Judy Jingirian was re-elected and Araxy Aykanian, Nanik Kupelian, Maral Matossian and Adrine Postoyan were newly elected to the board for 2-year terms.
The new board is in charge of implementing the ongoing programs of the ARS and newly adopted resolutions and balanced budget of the 93rd Regional Convention.
The following were elected as Alternate Regional Executive members (1) Sirarpi Chakalian; (2) Nevart Mooradian; (3) Ankine Agopian; (4) Ovsanna Khachadoorian; and (5) Maida Bezdjian. The alternates are for the newly elected board members for the same duration of two years.
The last election of the convention was for the Auditing Committee. For the first time, a scantron system was needed to speed up the election process. The following members were elected to the Auditing Committee for a one-year term: Nairy Bostanian, Vivian Taslakian and Tamar Ourichian. This committee will conduct quarterly audits and report its findings at the 94th Regional Convention.
Dr. Vicken Yacoubian, reiterated the ARF Central Committee’s commitment, congratulated the newly elected Regional Executive, and thanked the retiring members of the board, convention officers and delegates for their service. He commended the ARS for providing effective and wide range of services, and hoped that the convention evaluation process serves as a way to renew our commitment to the organization.
As it is customary, Lena Bozoyan handed commemorative plaques to the members, whose 2-year terms had expired, and each used the opportunity to share their feelings, to thank volunteers and staff, and to reiterate their commitment to the ARS. The two co-chairs Nyree Derderian and Arous Melkonian used the opportunity to thank the convention secretaries for an awesome job, to thank the convention committees for doing a great job, and to admire on the tremendous job that the ARS does in the region. Other guests and delegates presented various congratulatory remarks.
Following the adjournment of the convention, a meeting held with the ARS Central Executive representative Annie Kechichian, convention officers and the board members, the 2013-2014 Regional Executive board elected officers as follows:
Chairperson: Lena Bozoyan
Vice-Chairperson: Carmen Libaridian
Secretary: Karine Barikian-Setian
Treasurer: Christina Khanjian
Advisors: Araxy Aykanian, Judy Jingirian, Nanik Kupelian, Maral Matossian and Adrine Postoyan.
This convention showed that the challenges are being met. Ani Dikranian, a new member of the hosting Nairy Chapter, was in charge of the electronic equipment. The first time delegates brought their full participation to the convention and were elected to committee assignments. The convention helped to reinvigorate the ranks for another year in quest for service.