From nine to five, we hold corporate jobs. From writing business plans to approving multi-use development projects to designing denim apparel to updating P&L statements, we analyze documents and solve problems as members of society’s quality workforce.
After work, and in my case, after I tuck my kids into bed, we put on a different hat—the jaunty hat of the Armenian Cultural Foundation’s Banquet Committee. Seems easy, right? It’s just another event. How hard can it be to plan the perfect celebration for approximately 1000 of Los Angeles’ most notable philanthropists, community activists, business leaders and supporters?
We, the ACF Banquet Committee, are the epitome of grace under fire.
After a long and much needed night of sleep, I checked my Blackberry early Monday morning. Just a few unread emails. With a big smile, I went about my morning—dropped off my kids at school and rushed to work. I opened my inbox again—still waiting for a deluge of emails from committee members of issues to be tackled in preparation for the event. Silence. Every few hours, an email of congratulations would appear.
No major problems to overcome.
No meeting announcements.
No printing emergencies.
No action items.
A sane person would welcome the break. To my amazement, I was looking forward to my daily dose of texts, calls and emails.
The Armenian Cultural Foundation celebrated the Armenian Revolutionary Federation’s 120th anniversary at The Beverly Hilton. Guests entered the fabulous cocktail reception adorned with décor to fit the evening’s theme. From stunning Christmas decorations in the lobby to blushing red rose centerpieces to 30 country flags erected on stage, the ballroom embodied the cumulative spirit and strength of our organization.
The program was filled with inspirational messages and remarks. Household names like Raffi Hamparian, Vahe Yacoubian, Avedik Izmirlian and Viken Hovsepian carried the message of 120 years of bold Armenian aspirations and dreams and the passion and perseverance which made those dreams a reality.
But this event was different than any other.
Earl Warren once noted, “I always turn to the sports pages first, which record people’s accomplishments. The front page has nothing by man’s failures.” Often times, it seems a natural, human tendency to put our attention on shortcomings. Through the eyes of judgment, we look at what’s wrong, what’s not working, what “ought to be.”
Not this time.
This time, we were consumed with celebration. We celebrated 120 years of perseverance. We celebrated success. We celebrated advancement, growth and change. We celebrated supporters like Varant and Hoori Melkonian and Harry and Cheryl Nadjarian. We celebrated the life of Dr. Jacob Orphali and his newly established endowment through the ACF Trust Fund.
We highlighted what’s right, what’s working well, what we are blessed with and acknowledged the importance of every supporter and every friend. Behind our collective consciousness of celebration, there was a resounding note of gratitude.
As I shook hands and greeted many familiar faces, I was consumed with mixed emotions. People were thanking and praising me for my efforts and time. I felt unworthy of that admiration because my contributions are expected. People with moderate powers can accomplish tenfold if they apply themselves wholly and indefatigable to a Cause they believe in. Simply, I believe in our Cause.
Volunteering isn’t easy. Nobody said it was. But someone’s gotta do it!
We are not experts. We are not perfect. We don’t have any more spare time or energy than the normal person. We work full time and juggle our families and schedules and try to keep it together as best we can.
Sometimes, we find ourselves going in too many different directions. We run out of steam. Memory Lapses. Communication lines break down. Time slips by.
Then, we rejoice at the generosity of our supporters. We see results. We feel the confidence and reinforcement of our community and the energy of our sister organizations. We feel the hand of encouragement on our shoulders.
It’s not for money, it’s not for fame. It’s not for any personal gain. It’s the love for our Cause and the fulfilling feeling of being a part of something bigger than ourselves. Bear in mind, in today’s modern world, the word volunteer is the quintessential definition of a champion.
For the champions committed to making the 120th anniversary of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation a success—from the Symposium to the Banquet to the upcoming Public Rally, congratulations!