The ARS of Western USA’s 97th Regional Convention was held at the Armenian Sisters Academy in Montrose, California. In participation were 69 delegates, 11 guests, Central Executive Members Dr. Nyree Derderian, Rita Hintlian, and Maral Matossian, as well as numerous observers. The convention was hosted by the 2017 – 2019 Regional Executive Board from July 12 to 14.
The convention’s opening ceremony was held starting at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, July 12 with the attendance of Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian; Archpriest Vicken Vassilian; ARS Central Executive Members; representatives of the ARF Central Committee, ANCA Western Region, AYF Central Executive, Homenetmen, Hamazkayin; Armenian Sisters Academy Principal Sister Lucia Al Haik; delegates, and observers.
On behalf of the ARS Regional Executive Board, Chairperson Silva Poladian delivered welcoming remarks and outlined the importance of the region’s highest meeting, which would allow members the opportunity to examine and evaluate the organization’s work and activities throughout the 2017 – 2019 term, on a regional level. She extended special appreciation to Prelate Mardirossian, the ARS Central Executive, ARF Central Committee, local and sister organizations, the Glendale City Council, as well as the region’s 24 chapters and members for their close collaboration during the two-year term.
After these remarks, Homenetmen Western Region scouts performed the flag ceremony, marching with the American, Armenian, Artsakh, California, and ARS flags, led by the instruction of Joslyn Abajian. Singer Raffi Kerbabian then sang the American, Armenian, and ARS anthems.
Prelate Mardirossian delivered a prayer and conveyed his message, stating “The ARS is not only a universally beloved organization, it is an indispensable organization. The scope of its influence is immeasurable and the lives it has touched countless. It is a blessing in every sense of the word for Armenians of all ages, and for the perpetuation of our heritage and of our nation. As you reflect on the achievements and also the challenges of the previous term in preparation for a new term of service, may the successes of the past be the impetus and inspiration that guide you to new heights in future endeavors.”
The ARF Central Committee’s message was delivered by Garo Ispendjian, who stressed the significance of the worldwide and humanitarian service of the Armenian Relief Society, as well as the importance of the convention’s close evaluation of the organization’s work and activities. He called upon delegates to focus on upcoming programs and work, citing the continuation of the organization’s aid and assistance to Javakhk; advancing ARS schools, especially in distant communities; and focusing on after school programs for youth. He extended his thankfulness to the 2017 – 2019 Regional Executive Board with whom he worked closely during the two-year term, and extended wishes for the convention’s success.
The ARS Central Executive’s message was delivered by Maral Matossian, who recognized the ARS of Western USA region as one of the most important pillars of the organization and conveyed her expectation for the three-day convention to be most productive and implement decisions that are bold and thoughtful. She emphasized the importance of working collaboratively with united spirit to advance the humanitarian programs that serve the Armenian people in the Homeland and throughout the Diaspora.
Following the opening ceremony, the ARS 97th Regional Convention was announced officially in session by the 2017 – 2019 Regional Executive Chairperson Silva Poladian, who touched on the Regional Executive Board’s emphasis throughout the two-year term to cultivate solidarity between the Board and its chapters, as well as to stress the importance of the collective over the individual. Thereafter, Poladian called upon the nomination to begin for the convention’s temporary officers.
Delegates elected the convention’s temporary officers, as follows: Chairperson Annie Kechichian (Armenian), Chairperson Angela Savoyan (English), Nune Jamakordzian (Armenian Secretary) and Hilda Fidanian (English Secretary).
The Regional Executive Board’s guests to the convention included Nevart Mooradian, Haigoush Kohler, and Vicky Marashlian.
Thereafter, elections for the Credentials Examination Committee were held. While members of this committee examined delegate questionnaire forms, executive representative delegates were given the opportunity to report on major chapter activities. Next, it was decided that the temporary officers would remain as the convention’s permanent officers with two additional officers elected, including Hermine Parseghian (Armenian Secretary) and Souzanne Ouzounian (English Secretary).
The permanent officers appointed Khatoune Pakradouni as parliamentarian, Azadouhi Pilibosian and Jeanine Boudakian as Sergeant-At-Arms, and Maro Kechichian as reporter. Following the approval of the convention agenda, delegates elected the Nominations Committee, which then suggested members for the Resolutions and Archives Committees.
The ARS 97th Regional Convention invited ARS members Mako Mgrdichian, Sonia Peltekian, Mayda Kelejian, Sona Bostanian, Loucine Melikian, Maro Papazian, Annie Chalian, and Zvig Guedikian as its guests.
The ARS Central Executive’s report was delivered by Maral Matossian and, on the same evening, delegates had the opportunity to raise questions of clarification regarding the Regional Executive’s, Social Services, Guidance Center, and financial biennial reports. All questions were addressed and provided with comprehensive responses.
Dr. Ida Karayan, Director of the ARS Child, Youth and Family Guidance Center, presented an informational video highlighting the Center’s work and activities.
During the morning of Saturday, July 13, reports were delivered by the Archives and Auditing Committees. Next, delegates provided an assessment of the 2017 – 2019 Regional Executive’s biennial activities, which they found to be highly commendable.
Delegates examined and adopted resolutions presented by the Regional Executive Board, chapters, and personal motions. These primarily pertained to the educational sphere, public relations, fundraising, and membership recruitment. Emphasis was also placed on expanding partnerships with local, sister, regional, and international organizations, which would also allow the opportunity to deliver outreach about the organization’s humanitarian services. Internationally, the convention found it imperative to continue the organization’s focus on programs benefiting Armenia, Artsakh, and Javakhk.
Changes to the regional bylaws were also presented, discussed, and adopted. Thereafter, resolutions were presented for the ARS 72nd International Convention, which will be held on October 6 to 11 in Montreal, Canada. The regional proposed budget was later presented and approved.
On Sunday, July 14, elections were held for the 2019 – 2021 Regional Executive Board. Eight of the nine existing Board members were re-elected to the body and one new member was elected to the Board to replace Ani Bostanian, who had completed her term of service. As such, the following members were elected to the new Board: Silva Poladian, Maral Touloumian, Anita Altounian, Armenouhi (Mimi) Tomassian, Arsho Avakian, Nancy Bederian, Nora Shirikian, Varduhi Petrosyan, and Araxy Aykanian.
Subsequently, elections were held for delegates, who would attend the upcoming ARS 72nd International Convention and represent the Armenian Relief Society of Western USA. The convention elected Maral Touloumian, Annie Kechichian, Lara Kazandjian, and Sossie Poladian.
The convention concluded with the election of an Auditing Committee, addressing unforeseen matters, and closing remarks by ARF Central Committee representative Garo Ispendjian, ARS Central Executive member Maral Matossian, Convention Chairpersons Annie Kechichian and Angela Savoyan, as well as guests and delegates.
Following the adjournment of the convention, the newly elected Regional Executive Board held its first plenary meeting with the presence of the convention’s officers and ARS Central Executive representative Maral Matossian.
During this meeting, the 2019 – 2021 Regional Executive Board elected its officers as follows:
Silva Poladian, Chairperson
Arsho Avakian, Vice-Chairperson
Maral Touloumian, Secretary
Anita Altounian, Treasurer
Armenouhi (Mimi) Tomassian, Advisor
Nancy Bederian, Advisor
Nora Shirikian, Advisor
Varduhi Petrosyan, Advisor
Araxy Aykanian, Advisor