BY GEORGE AGHJAYAN
Chairman, ANCA Eastern Region
On May 20, 2012, the ANCA Endowment Fund will host its third telethon in the past decade. By now, you have seen it on websites, read about it in e-mails and community press, and seen it on television and social media sites. Hopefully, you – in turn – are sharing the news with your friends and family, confirming your donation commitment, and planning to attend one of the many viewing parties nationwide.
Spreading the word about, planning to participate in, and donating to this event may seem small, and in the busy lives we all share – balancing work, raising children, taking care of parents, excelling in school, maintaining our health, and nurturing our social network – something that is easily forgotten or not prioritized.
But, it is also one of the greatest opportunities to invest in the success of the community. Contrary to popular perception, it is not merely a direct investment in issues, but rather a contribution to the divesified foundation of issues, people, and presence.
We all know the issues. Justice for the Armenian Genocide, promoting a stronger U.S.-Armenia relationship as well as that with the Armenian nation throughout the region, and building stronger civic engagement among Americans of Armenian ethnicity.
The ANCA’s successes in raising awareness about the Armenian Genocide are well known. These include its legal research revolving around the continued protection of Armenian Genocide-related state laws, the change in the climate on Capitol Hill from genocide denial to affirmation deferral, and educating the current generation of public officials – as well as Armenian Americans – about the ongoing academic advances in the fields of genocide reparations and restitution.
The ANCA remains at the forefront, the American leader in ensuring continued growth and expansion of the relationship between the U.S.A. and the Republic of Armenia. From ensuring that public officials at all levels are reminded of its disproportionately large contribution to American-led and international peace-keeping missions throughout the world to making sure humanitarian assistance is justly received by Armenian communities throughout the region, the ANCA continues to push the envelope.
However, its greatest success is the return on that investment in the communities across this great country. America continues to be a land of opportunity where civic engagement and public service is the center of power. No matter what the “outside” influence, it is those “inside” the Congress, state legislatures, county seats, and city halls who shape and cast the final vote.
For over two decades, the ANCA has run the Leo Sarkisian Internship in Washington, D.C. and through this and other internship programs has sponsored hundreds of young Armenian Americans to come and learn – through active engagement – the nuances of and challenges faced by Hai Tahd.
Nearly 10 years ago, the ANCA started the Capitol Gateway Program. This initiative seeks to evolve the ambitious Armenian youth presence in Washington, D.C. from educating an ever-transient group of students to a vibrant community of young professionals plugged into all sectors. Dozens of recent college graduates and new professionals have made the nation’s capital their new home, and in many cases the nation’s Capitol their place of work, something that would not have been feasible without the support of the ANCA.
These successes are the tip of an iceberg that is comprised of hundreds of thousands of staff and volunteer hours, who – in turn – worked out of offices, on campuses, and in community centers across the nation. It is the result of efforts as big as organizing conferences that bring together experts from around the world and as unsung as staying up late nights writing and then putting together informational packages for public officials, educators, the media, and our own supporters.
Yet there is so much more we can do. There is so much more we need to do. The bar of success is ever moving. Greater success brings more challenges by those who seek to marginalize or tear us down. Greater success brings larger expectations – and rightully so!
Armenians have a rich, multi-millenia culture about which they should be proud. Armenians have contributed extensively to the U.S.A. though their successful realization of the American Dream. But resting on these laurels condemns us to history and eliminates our future.
Join me in supporting the 2012 ANCA Endowment Fund Telethon. Contribute, get your family and friends to donate, and let us – all together – watch this momentous event.
Together, with your support of the ANCA, we will continue to be a leading force in writing the next chapter of the Armenian experience in America.