NEWPORT BEACH, Calif.—The “Javakhk Fund” Committee of the Armenian Relief Society of Western U.S.A. Regional Executive held the sixth annual cruise aboard the yacht Electra “Crystal/Eternity”, on March 7, 2010, as it cruised the Newport Beach harbor.
Artsvik Minassian, a member of the Republic of Armenia Parliament member, who was visiting the southland, attended the event with Armenian Revolutionary Federation Bureau representative Dr. Viken Hovsepian and ARF CC Representative Avedik Izmirlian. Among the 170 guests there were, Deputy Consul of the Republic of Armenia Mesrob Shaboyan, ARS Central Executive Board representative Nova Hindoyan, ARS of Western USA Regional Executive Board chairperson Sossie Poladian, representatives of sister organizations, and Hacop and Hilda Baghdassarian, the guest of honor and his wife.
Vice Chair of the Javakhk Fund Committee, Lena Bozoyan, the emcee, made the welcoming remarks expressing gratitude for supporting the aims of the committee. Rev. Fr. Hrant Yeretsian of the Forty Martyrs Armenian Apostolic Church conducted the blessing of the tables.
Haigoush Kohler, who has led the committee since its inception a decade ago, remarked that as long as the humanitarian and national liberties and rights of the Javakhk Armenians are being disregarded, the committee under the auspices of the century-old ARS, an mindful of its duties, will continue its humanitarian mission, extending a helping hand to the suffering Javakhk Armenians.
The keynote speaker was ARF CC member Hovan Tashjian, who valued the gathering as a moral support provided to the Javakhk Armenians, as proof that when anywhere Armenians are in need, Armenians from far away corners will assist, because it is not possible to ignore a member of the same family. Tashjian noted that Javakhk cannot be considered part of the Diaspora, because it is part of the homeland given to Georgia at the whim of Stalin, and economic development is needed to allow the Armenians of Javakhk to enrich and perpetuate the homeland with their creative labor. He praised the establishment of ARS clinics in Javakhk, remarked the importance of re-establishing the currently non-existent health care system, and presented statistics on the decline of education and the obstacles being faced by Armenians trying to continue their education beyond high school.
Sossie Poladian, ARS Regional Executive Chairperson, thanked and praised those present for supporting ARS Javakhk programs during the past 10 years. Quoting an Armenian saying, “Some years keep you for a day, some days keep you for a year” (daree ga or ge bahe, or ga dari), she said that the proceeds of this one-day event are expected to cover a whole year of the funds needed to assist the Javakhk Armenians. Considering the work of the Javakhk Fund Committee as one of the most important ARS programs, she thanked the committee and praised Haigoush Kohler and Jasik Jarahian for their exceptional efforts.
Next, Jasik Jarahian, ARS Regional’s General Manager and a member of the committee, presented the guest of honor, Hacop Baghdassarian, and his wife Hilda, who have supported many worthy projects and were among the first who responded to the dire needs in Javakhk by sponsoring the renovation of 8 schools and donating to the ARS Javakhk Fund programs. Haigoush Kohler explained that the donor with the big demeanor, big forgiveness and big pocket, along with his big heart, is a living example of an indispensible individual in our community and that they will take off the captain’s hat and crown him as the king of kings.
Wearing his new crown, Hacop Baghdassarian said that whatever he has done is not enough, and pledged to donate $10,000 to the ARS Youth Centers in Javakhk. He praised the children, such as his grandchildren, raising funds by filling in piggy banks for Javakhk and told the audience that he will not ask them to make donations any more; instead, he asked them to approach Haigoush or Jasik “kouyrignerin” (sisters) to make their donations. Hence, Haigoush added, “We have to do, what we have to do” and Jasik continued with the announcements as $40,000 was for Javakhk.
Several village and town scenes were on display throughout the yacht. The AYF youth were scheduled to auction off similar photos and raise funds for Javakhk.
Baghdassarian’s call to help Javakhk resonated throughout the night. The deteriorating situation in Javakhk should be a compelling reason for the rest of the community to follow the ARS lead to help Javakhk.