LOS ANGELES–It may have taken 18 years–many dollars–endless hours of work and plenty of heart–but it has finally happened.
Set against the backdrop of a towering warehouse–and with scores of community members–public officials–and longtime current and former members in attendance–the Homenetmen Glendale "Ararat" Chapter held the grand opening celebration of its new chapter headquarters on San Fernando road Sunday–bringing to fruition a million-dollar dream of one day opening the most state-of-the-art and comprehensive Homenetmen headquarters complex in the world.
With a guest list number 1,000 strong–and including such names as Congressman James Rogan–California State Senator Adam Schiff–Los Angeles Supervisor Mike Antonovich–State Assemblymember Scott Wildman–Glendale Mayor Larry Zarian and representatives from Los Angeles City Councilmember Richard Alatorre and California State Senator Richard Polanco–Sunday’s event was everything a Homenetmen "Ararat" event is…lavish.
Under the auspices of Bishop Moushegh Mardirossian of the Western Prelacy–the event featured an opening flag ceremony by the chapter’s scouts–and welcoming words by Marina Manoukian of the "Ararat" Executive.
"We are now in our home…finally," said Vigen Davitian–who also spoke on behalf of the "Ararat" Executive. "Our goal has been to create a family atmosphere under one roof–where our children–our parents and our grandparents can all be together–happy."
Dativian thanked the Glendale City Council–the Homenetmen Western Regional Executive–the New Center Committee and many others for making the grand opening a reality.
Mher Tavitian–who spoke on behalf of the Homenetmen Western Regional Executive–quickly offering praise for all the volunteers and benefactors who came to Homenetmen’s aid when it needed it most.
Arpi Andonian of the Homenetmen Valley "Massis" Chapter spoke as well–and offered words of praise to "Ararat" for what it had accomplished.
A video presentation chronicled the past years of the Homenetmen Western Region–from its roots to the gloried present. A martial arts program and a dance presentation were also showcased.
Lilit Ghahramanian–a young girl scout from "Ararat" did the ceremonial ribbon cutting to highlight the evening. Also–a $10,000 donation was also given to Homenetmen Sunday.
Serving the greater Glendale area–Homenetmen "Ararat" was established in 1979–working out of a small office located at St. Mary’s Apostolic Church–then located on Carlton St.
As the years passed–membership rose for the chapter–and along with it the need for increased space. "Ararat" purchased a property on Broadway near Pacific for that very purpose–and managed to operate a 1,000-plus member organization with four principal divisions out of a six-room building.
Holding basketball–volleyball and even soccer practices on its single basketball court–and conducting gymnastic–martial arts and other activities out of its modest auditorium–"Ararat" forged on–becoming the single largest chapter of Homenetmen before its fifth anniversary in 1984.
By 1988–and now serving as Homenetmen’s flagship chapter–"Ararat" began to dream of a new center where its growing athletic division could adequately train its personnel–and where its scouting division could cater to the needs of its 20 troops–which included scouts ranging from ages seven to 30.
And so the wheels of change were set into motion–where in closed-door meetings–fund-raising efforts and a search for a new facility began.
By 1993–rumors were abound that "Ararat" was to move to a site just west of Tujunga–but forcing its membership–mostly Glendalian–to travel 15 minutes to and from that site was not a viable option.
Meeting up with difficulty finding a location to conduct its scouting exercises every Sunday–and faced with construction at Glendale High School that wouldn’t allow them to stay there–the chapter moved its weekly scouting activities to La Crescenta Park–drawing loud words of complaint from the very same Glendale membership that did not want to drive to Tujunga on a weekly basis.
By 1995–new rumors arose of a large–state-of-the-art facility planned for an undisclosed location on San Fernando Blvd. With permits to attain–an old headquarters to sell–and money to be raised–the quest began.
Sunday’s event was the culmination of that very quest…a quest 18 years in the making. "It has been a long road…and we’ve been through a lot of things," Tavitian said. "There have been so many people responsible for us being here today…I can’t thank them all in the time I’ve been given–but I hope they know who they are and what they’ve helped accomplish."
Homenetmen’s new center–once completely finished–will enable all of its athletic teams to practice under one roof–while also allowing all its scouting leadership the space and facilities it needs to cater to its growing membership.
Conference centers–along with banquet halls–will also allow the greater Armenian community to hold its many functions within the complex–and serve as a key fund-raising tool for the chapter.