The charitable foundation announced that its annual gala event has now raised over $44 million since 2003, helping improve the lives of 75,000 people in 44 villages of Armenia.
NEW YORK — With the Armenian flag raised over the historic New York City’s Cunard building, 400 guests attended the sold-out 15th Annual Children of Armenia Fund (COAF) Holiday Gala held on December 15 at Cipriani 25 Broadway. COAF announced that its 2018 Gala raised a record more than $4 million. The purpose of the event is to fund innovative programs in education, healthcare, social services, and economic development throughout rural Armenia. This will include the completion of the state-of-the-art COAF SMART Center campus, which will reach over 150,000 people and was recently visited by President Armen Sarkissian of Armenia.
“It was a spectacular evening, and we are delighted by the support from the Diaspora as well as our global family who have demonstrated a deep sense of commitment to COAF’s mission over the last 15 years,” said Dr. Garo Armen, Founder of COAF.
“We are energized by the evening’s outpouring of generosity and will be expanding our reach which now includes 44 rural communities impacting over 75,000 lives to over 100 communities impacting 150,000 lives. Furthermore, the peaceful revolution in April underscores COAF’s core values to bring about democracy and freedom to allow citizens to define their future. All this will result in accelerated innovation and economic growth. We feel a moral responsibility to provide the next generation with the tools, skills and infrastructure to advance what has already started,” added Armen.
Emmy and Tony Award-winning actress Andrea Martin served as the evening’s producer and host; renowned art world figure Tony Shafrazi was the honorary chair. World renowned auctioneer Simon de Pury conducted the auction. Honorees included President of the Carnegie Corporation Vartan Gregorian and the late Clare Russel Gregorian and the iconic entertainer Charles Aznavour, who passed away in October 2018.
A significant component of the evening was a live art auction guided by Gala Honorary Chair Tony Shafrazi, one of the art world’s most prominent figures. Shafrazi, an Iranian-born Armenian, rose to fame managing artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Donald Baechler, and Kenny Scharf. Renowned auctioneer Simon de Pury once again masterfully conducted the auction.
COAF ambassador Andrea Martin once again hosted this year’s gala. The Andrea Martin Performing Arts Auditorium, located in the COAF SMART Center, was named after the Emmy and Tony Award-winning Armenian-American actress in appreciation of her love and support for the children of Armenia.
Celebrity guests included Grammy-nominated singer Melody Gardot and Emmy-nominated actor Victor Garber. Gardot, a proponent of music therapy for children, learned about COAF’s work after performing at the Francophonie Summit held in Yerevan this year. Victor Garber, a past COAF award recipient who has taken part in several COAF galas, led the evening’s special tribute to the late French-Armenian iconic entertainer Charles Aznavour.
COAF’s Humanitarian Award was presented to Vartan Gregorian (president of the Carnegie Corporation) and his late wife Clare Gregorian, who was a founding COAF board member. Nine college scholarships were established for COAF youth in Armenia in appreciation of Clare Gregorian’s dedication.
Vartan Gregorian has served as an adviser to the COAF Board for several years. Prior to his current position, which he assumed in 1997, Gregorian served as the president of the New York Public Library, and later as the president of Brown University. He has been decorated by various governments, including over seventy honorary degrees.
Attendees also heard an inspiring speech from a young teenager by the name of Marina Mirzoyan from the COAF-supported village of Hatsik. Marina is currently a study exchange student in Colorado and who has excelled in English language programs offered by COAF at her local school. She spoke on gaining confidence and not being afraid to fail as a result of COAF’s impact on her life. The evening also featured performances by two teenaged musicians from Armenia. Armen Puchinyan (piano) and Armen Daghents (saxophone) moved guests with both classical and popular pieces.
Children of Armenia Fund (COAF) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization founded in 2003, aimed at empowering young Armenians living in rural communities. COAF’s community-based, comprehensive approach to reducing rural poverty prioritizes education, healthcare, and economic development programs. The organization has impacted the lives of 75,100 beneficiaries and completed 110 infrastructure renovations in 44 villages in rural Armenia.
COAF’s most recent initiative, the COAF SMART Center, is a hub for 150,000 villagers, leading the way in groundbreaking rural infrastructure worldwide. The campus, located in the Lori Region of Armenia, offers comprehensive resources and opportunities for children and their families, with state-of-the-art classrooms and labs for children to envision new horizons. COAF SMART curriculum emphasizes innovative methods of education, including project-based and action-based learning, enabled by digital communication.
The COAF SMART Center opened its doors in May of this year after a capital campaign that raised $5 million for the center’s construction and operation. Plans are currently underway to a medical facility, dormitories and a child development center on the COAF SMART Center Campus.