GLENDALE—During During the weekend of July 14 to 16, members of the Armenian Relief Society of Western USA came together for the ARS 96th Regional Convention at the Homenetmen Glendale “Ararat” Chapter Center.
Present at the official opening of the convention were Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Very Rev. Fr. Torkom Donoyan, ARS Central Executive Vice-Chairperson Nyree Derderian, ARS Central Executive Board Members Maral Matossian and Rita Hintlian, ARF Central Committee representative Garo Ispendjian, Homenetmen Ararat Chapter Chairperson Roubina Hovnanian-Manouchehri, guests of the Regional Executive including Christine Hovnanian, Vicky Marashlian, and Maggie Sarkuni, chapter-elected delegates, and observers.
Following the singing of the American, Armenian, and ARS anthems by Anahid Nersisyan, Archbishop Mardirossian delivered remarks and extended wishes for productive deliberations. He stated, “From its inception over a century ago to the present day, subsequent generations of diligent members have served in the ranks of this worthy organization to provide for the needs of our compatriots in need and in crisis with a loving and compassionate heart, with the full awareness that the well-being of our larger collective family is as important as the well-being of their individual families. We are assured that the ARS will continue to thrive and endure owing to its dedicated members and generous supporters.”
He recalled that ARS members were honored last year on the occasion of the “Year of Service” by His Holiness Catholicos Aram I and referenced this year’s proclamation of the “Year of Renewal” by explaining that it is an invitation to renew the commitment to serving one’s nation and homeland.
Following the Prelate’s message, Chairperson Rebecca Berberian delivered the Regional Executive Board’s remarks. She conveyed, “Your attendance at this year’s convention is testimony to your commitment to this organization and the community which it serves…The decisions that this convention will make, which will either be passed in the form of a recommendation or a resolution, will impact a number of aspects of the ARS – whether it be the functions of our Saturday Schools, the future of the Social Services programs, the state of our 26 chapters, as well as the organization’s overall image, reputation and role within our communities.” She announced a reorganization decision at the ARS Regional Headquarters and also reflected on the successful implementation of certain projects, including the #JoinARS campaign, the revamped website, corporate package, homelessness prevention pilot program, and the region’s extensive work regarding the ARS Stepanakert “Soseh” Kindergarten Rebuilding Project.
ARF Central Committee Representative Garo Ispendjian commended the work of the 2015-2017 Regional Executive Board and extended wishes for a successful regional convention. As the liaison to the ARS, he explained that while he is aware of the various challenges faced by the organization, they can be overcome collectively. He then expressed hope that the convention would address important issues that affect our communities and urged delegates to leave the convention with a conviction to continue their productive work.
The ARS Central Executive Board’s remarks were delivered by Maral Matossian, who affirmed that as an organization and as Armenians, we are most victorious when a united spirit is displayed and unified powers are utilized. She stressed that it is the true dedication of ARS members, which has allowed the organization to continue its existence 107 years later. She brought attention to the fact that the Armenian Relief Society finds itself at a critical turning point and the last ARS International Convention has set expectations upon members in regards to the future of the organization. Commitment towards immediate priorities are necessary, including the social and economic conditions of Syrian Armenians, reforms in the homeland, continuing threats experienced in Artsakh, the social and economic needs of Javakhk, and urgent work related to the preservation of the Armenian identity. In conclusion, she expressed confidence that the practical and thoughtful decisions made at the convention will unite not only ARS members yet Armenians throughout communities.
Following official remarks, Rebecca Berberian announced the start of the convention’s proceedings and invited members to select the convention’s officers. 69 delegates representing 23 chapters from the region brought their participation to the convention. The permanent officers of the convention were selected, as follows: Khatoune Pakradouni, Chairperson (Armenian), Sona Fundukian, Chairperson (English), Armenian Secretaries Maral Touloumian and Karine Barikian-Setian, English Secretaries Judy Jingirian and Arpik Najarian. A credentials examining committee elected by the convention reviewed delegate authorization forms and verified the legitimacy of the proceedings.
Sossy Poladian was elected as Parliamentarian and a number of volunteer members were entrusted the position of Sergeant-at-Arms. The regional office staff was assigned as reporters of the convention.
After approval of the convention agenda, a five-member Nominating Committee was selected, as well as a three-member Resolutions Committee and Archives Committee.
On behalf of the regional convention, Marie Arabian, Haigouhi Seropian, Anahid Manougian-Boghigian, Sona Chopurian, Lilit Barseghian, Irene Boodakian, Sossi Gabriel, and Maggie Yahyayan were invited as guests.
Questions of clarifications were raised by delegates pertaining to the ARS Regional Executive’s, Social Services, and ARS Child, Youth and Family Guidance Center’s biennial reports. Delegates also received the biennial financial report. The ARS Central Executive’s abridged two-year report was presented by Maral Matossian.
The session on Saturday, July 15, 2017 began with responses by the Regional Executive to the questions of clarifications raised regarding the biennial reports. Thereafter, delegates had the opportunity to deliver their assessments of the Regional Executive’s biennial activities. The Archives and Auditing Committees reports were read thereafter. The convention commended the work of the 2015-2017 Regional Executive Board and then moved on to present and pass motions pertaining to various spheres, including Educational, Fundraising, Public Relations, Membership, International (Armenia-Artsakh-Javakhk-Syria), and Collaboration.
On Sunday, July 16, 2017, individual motions were presented and examined. The Resolutions Committee compiled the motions, which passed during convention, and would be incorporated in the work and activities of the next Regional Executive Board.
Following the review and approval of the Regional Executive’s proposed budget, elections ensued and a new Regional Executive Board was elected for a two-year term. The 2017-2019 Regional Executive Board includes Silva Poladian, Maral Touloumian, Arsho Avakian, Anita Altounian, Armenouhi Tomassian, Nancy Bedirian, Varduhi Petrosyan, Nora Shirikian, and Annie Bostanian. Alternates are Seta Tarpinian, Lara Kazandjian, Araxy Aykanian, Shoushan Tashjian, Rozine Bedoyan.
After the election of the new Auditing Committee, the convention chairpersons thanked delegates for entrusting the position to them. Appreciation remarks were delivered by ARF Central Committee representative Garo Ispendjian, ARS Central Executive representative Maral Matossian, guests, and delegates. The convention drew to a close on the evening of Sunday, July 16.