LA CRESCENTA—The Armenian Cultural Foundation’s Crescenta Valley Armenian center was rededicated as the “Meher and Satig Der Ohanessian Youth Center,” during a ceremony on April 8 in honor of the couple whose generous contribution will advance the activities of the center, which serves as a home to slew of community organizations.
Following a flag ceremony by La Crescenta Homenetmen Shant chapter scouts, Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian was joined by the Rev. Fr. Ghevont Kirazian in blessing the center. The unveiling of the new sign and a ribbon-cutting ceremony by Meher and Satig Der Ohanessian, who were joined by their sons Ari and Saro and their familie, brought together the community in celebration of this milestone.
Attending the event were State Senator Anthony Portantino; Glendale Mayor Zareh Sinanyan; City Councilmember Vartan Gharpetian; Glendale City Clerk Ardy Kassakhian; Mary Hovaguimian representing Rep. Adam Schiff; Crescenta Valley Town Council members headed by its president, Harry Leon; and members of the Sunland-Tunjunga Neighborhood Council. Also in attendance was Armenian Revolutionary Federation Bureau member Dr. Viken Yacoubian; the chairman of the ARF Central Committee its political representative Daron Der Khachadourian and Avedik Izmirlian were joined by other members of the body; and representatives of affiliate and sister organizations.
Master of Ceremonies Arick Gevorkian welcomed those assembled for the special event and after thanking Meher and Satig Der Ohanessian invited Sen. Portantino who presented a California Senate Proclamation on this occasion.
In his message, the Prelate pointed out that the center is receiving its new name on New Sunday, which is a day of renewal. He greeted and congratulated the “ARF Zavarian” Gomideh and the entire ARF family and the community as a whole, stating, “as members of one and the same family, the achievements of one are achievements for all.”
He also blessed and commended in particular the benefactors for this latest of their countless contributions to our national institutions. He highlighted the great significance of such centers, along with our churches and schools, as bastions of our faith and heritage, a second home and safe haven for all community members and especially for the youth. Arch. Mardirossian noted that the ceremony can be considered as part of the centennial celebrations of Armenian Independence and the establishment of the first Republic of Armenia, which he called “a celebration of our survival, resilience, and perseverance,” and concluded by urging the community to continue to work together with brotherly love, goodwill, and renewed drive.
In his remarks, Chairman of the local ARF Zavarian Gomideh Mike Keleshian reported on the countless activities that take place within the center, among the highly successful Camp Zavarian, which has become a mainstay of the community and its youth during the summer months. He also enumerated the many organization that call the center their home base for activities.
“What gathers us here today is the Spirit of Giving. Giving is not a single act, especially not in the case of Meher and Satig as they have been lifelong supporters of the community and not just of this center,” said Keleshian in his remarks.
“Dear Meher & Satig,” said Keleshian addressing the benefactors. “Your Donation is an investment with a multiplier effect. We will be using it as seed money and seek further donations until we reach our goal to raise over half a million dollars in as short amount of time as we can so we can put a down payment (quickly) when the opportunity arises to procure a second center with a gym so that Homenetmen can become independent of the unending saga of renting gyms. To this end we have set a goal for ourselves to raise $600,000 by 2020 at the latest,” explained Keleshian.
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In his heartfelt remarks, Saro Der Ohanessian, speaking on behalf of the family, extolled the importance of such centers as not only a gathering place for the community but also a nurturing environment for future generations, citing his and his brother, Ari, as examples of young Armenian-Americans who learned the importance of our national aspirations within such community centers. (See complete text of Saro Der Ohanessian’s speech below).
At the conclusion, Saro Der Ohanessian announced an additional $50,000 donation on behalf of his and his brother’s families.
“Through the inspiration of our parent’s decade’s long gestures of altruism and philanthropy, it is my excitement to announce that on behalf of Ari and Lucine Der Ohanessian, myself, my beautiful wife Theresa, my daughter Alique Der Ohanessian, in addition to the prior pledged amount to the Armenian Cultural Foundation by Meher & Satig Der Ohanessian; we, as the succeeding generation hereby add an additional sun of $50,000,” said Saro Der Ohanessian.
Concluding the official portion of the event, Der Khachadourian delivered remarks on behalf of the ARF Western US Central Committee.
In thanking the Meher and Satig Der Ohanessian, Der Khachadourian reflected on the couple’s dedication and commitment to the Armenian Cause as they have demonstrated through their active involvement in all facets of the community, as well as their generosity, which extends to myriad organizations all pursuing the just aspirations of the Armenian Nation.
Der Khachadourian emphasized that as family members of Armenian Genocide survivors, the Der Ohanessians are acutely aware of all aspects of the community and have chosen to advance the activities of this center, as a crucial hub for the community to push forward its agenda of preserving the Armenian identity and the pursuit of the Armenian Cause.
Meher & Satig Der Ohanessian Youth Center’s Dedication Address
BY SARO DER OHANESSIAN
Srpazan Hayr, distinguished community leaders, ladies and gentleman, welcome and thank you for gathering with us here tonight on this special occasion. It is with the most profound sense of joy and honor that I stand before you along with my family and community to memorialize the lifelong dedication and support of two pillars that have stood strong and steadfast for the past 3 decades. I am truly humbled each day by their tireless efforts for our community, and proud to call them my mother and father; Meher and Satig Der Ohanessian.
Proclaiming one’s self identification as Armenian is truly not a simple task. Each of us has an inalienable responsibility to this community in any and every capacity of its calling. It is a tireless task, and at times exacerbating. But it is a virtuous one. And once each of us has answered this calling, only then do we have the privilege of calling ourselves Armenians; sharing the lineage with our great forefathers that lived through the horrors in history that we have merely read through the pages of our destiny.
We as Armenians come from a difficult history of Genocide and survival. We understand what it is to lose families, homes, and all that is dear to us. We understand what it’s like to start from nothing once again in a foreign land. We know the importance of reaching out a helping hand to someone in need, and for this reason the philosophy of community and the implementation of its centers has been an indispensable priority as part of our migrations through every corner of the world. All of us here tonight are more than survivor, we are victors! Our communities have made that possible. Our communities have shared with us, embraced us and have been the essential bind for our group empowerment.
It is our communities that have shown us the power of human connection and even through the evolution of technology, our relationships forged and comradery with our fellow man can never be replaced.
Armenians in this country and in the Diaspora have achieved incredible strides; but there is more work to be done! Members of this very community have reached heights that 30 years ago would be thought as unthinkable. We have broken the barriers into fields of government and policy, law, medicine, entertainment, accounting of course, and much more. But I can promise you; these heights were not reached alone. It has always been with the support of our communities in every capacity that we have succeeded, with the millions of Armenians around the world and all of you standing before me tonight. The greatness of a community ladies and gentleman are most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of the community itself.
Growing up, my brother Ari and I learned from a young age that the love from our parents was shared by their third child; our Armenian community. Now, at times, this child could be needy and demanding, irrational and obtuse. However eventually we learned that with a little love and sacrifice the selfless actions that you devote would be rewarded in an unparalleled fashion.
The great William Saroyan one wrote “it takes a lot of rehearsing for a man to be himself,” but I think living an exemplary life doesn’t need to be too far out of reach. When one has purpose, it all falls into place. The journey is what it’s all about; I’ve always thought that the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in the moment of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
And as two pillars of this community, I can humbly and justifiably speak my pride of my parents Meher and Satig Der Ohanessian; through their unwavering support for the past 3 decades, their commitments and dedication, I have witnessed their support stand as a beacon and inspiration for others to step forward and ensure that as my brother and I walked the halls of this very center as proud AYF badanis, so will my daughter Alique, and her succeeding generations to come.
The calls from any and all organizations have never gone unanswered. From financial support to the most valuable, being that of time. The Prelacy, the ACF, ANC, Homentmen, Telethom, Sushi Music School, the list continues… these two warriors accepted their duties as Armenians without whine, or regard to personal schedules and sacrificed personal comfort at times. Mom and dad; throw a pebble into a pond and see if it does not ripple, the splash may be gone instantly, but hundreds of ripples move on to swell and cause waves. Your eternally selfless actions will forever ripple through our community and will inspire others to mobilize their efforts to reach our goals; after all we cannot seek achievement for ourselves and turn a blind eye to the progress and prosperity for our community.
Through the inspiration of our parent’s decade’s long gestures of altruism and philanthropy, it is my excitement to announce that on behalf of Ari and Lucine Der Ohanessian, myself, my beautiful wife Theresa, my daughter Alique Der Ohanessian, in addition to the prior pledged amount to the Armenian Cultural Foundation by Meher & Satig Der Ohanessian; we, as the succeeding generation hereby add an additional sun of $50,000.
Mom, Dad, personally you have always been the inspiration for Ari and I to foster our love for our culture, and through the education and virtues ensiled in us, be assured that our traditions and your legacy will continue on forever with the ripples of time.
Vartsgernid Hazar gadar, God bless all of you and God bless our communities. Thank you!1