BY LARA GARIBIAN
GLENDALE—With several major Armenian media organizations in attendance, the Homenetmen Glendale “Ararat” Chapter hosted a media reception and a press conference on April 3 to overview and inform the community of the upcoming events, programs and activities that will be occurring in the near future. Executive Director, Armond Gorgorian was joined by Friends of Ararat chairman Parouir Akopian and committee members Steve Artinian and Souzi Zerounian-Khanzadian, to discuss the progress the “Ararat” chapter has made and to highlight the new ideas that are up and coming.
Khanzadian started the press conference by expressing her gratitude on behalf of Homentmen Glendale “Ararat” Chapter for attending and giving Glendale “Ararat” Chapter a voice within the community. Khanzadian noted that the press conference was being streamed via the internet and would be televised on major Armenian networks such as Horizon Armenian Television.
Armond Gorgorian began by giving a historical background of the evolution of Glendale “Ararat” Chapter and the struggles they endured to get to where they are now. He emphasized that 33 years ago, “Ararat” started as a concept which became a reality through the hard work and dedication of countless volunteers who saw and believed in a mission.
He stated, “Without the volunteers and staff our work would be twice as difficult and the gratitude we have for them is immense. I can only imagine the possibilities of where we could head in the future if we had even more volunteers then we do now.” Gorgorian noted that the true essence of Homenetmen and its multiple chapters is family and the main focus has become on finding new ways of having the youth along with their parents engage in activities that will allow them to connect in order to create a stronger bond, not only amongst fellow community members, but within each family unit as well.
He provided information about an upcoming program called the Wellness Center. He explained that generally the facilities of the Glendale “Ararat” Chapter are used for after school hours to provide our youth with an opportunity for a multitude of extracurricular activities. Gorgorian highlighted that the Wellness Center would be a day program designed to create a balance between physical activity and a healthy lifestyle for de-conditioned and conditioned community members: children, young adults, adults, and seniors. The vision is to promote an environment that integrates a healthy lifestyle that is comfortable, non-intimidating, and culturally sensitive.
Parouir Akopian, on the other hand, called attention to the importance of fundraising. He expressed that while fundraising has worked well in the past, nowadays, as a community, we must be more realistic. He suggested we create and work towards a fundraising structure that will ensure the growth of Homenetmen’s Glendale “Ararat” Chapter for years to come. He explained that in the near future, financial plans would be disclosed, which could help keep the development of Homenetmen in a constant flow. Akopian accentuated that it was important to maintain a legacy throughout our future that would keep Homenetmen strong and on its feet for another thirty three years to come, but not without the appropriate support to maintain it. Akopian explained that in the coming year concrete fundraising projects would be released, which would allow the community to provide support on a multitude of levels. He was also joined by Gorgorian to clearly emphasized that no child would be left behind or turned away if a family was unable to financially contribute to the organization. They stated that their main goal was to support the children of our community as well as a secure a future.
Steve Artinian, expressed his pride in the Homenetmen Glendale “Ararat” Chapter for being the largest chapter within the Homenetmen global 100 chapter network. Artinian’s main focus was the importance of media coverage to help promote and highlight all the hard work, progress, and upcoming events that will be occurring within “Ararat” as well as Homenetmen. He made clear that a multitude of forthcoming events would give “Ararat” a much stronger cultural emphasis along with scouting and athletic activities. Gorgorian clarified that their goal was in no way to compete with any other cultural organization, but to realize that it is impossible to ignore one’s identity and cultural prominence regardless of how athletically driven a program may be. Artinian explained that one of the goals and direction of “Ararat” was to focus on helping the community develop a strong sense of identity and communication, not just at large, but also as individual families. Artinian explained that some of the new programs are designed to “prepare to meet the challenges of the future.” Gorgorian explained that while they already have very strong ties with the Armenian Schools within the community, their goal now is to provide enough outreach and support to those who are dispersed within the other public or private school systems who crave the need to participate in something that allows them to develop their cultural identity on a much larger scale. One of the most progressive programs that Ararat offers is the D-League program. Designed for children between the ages of 7-12. D-League basketball activities enable our youngest players the opportunity to grow both physically and emotionally.
2011 marks the 33rd anniversary of the Homenetmen “Ararat” Chapter. In celebration of this milestone, in addition, the chapter has planned a gala entitled “A Celebration Of Our Journey” scheduled on October 22nd, 2011 at the Glendale Civic Center.