200 volunteers comb the streets picking up trash and removing graffiti
BY: GAIANEH AVANESSIAN
LITTLE ARMENIA—The Armenian Youth Federation held its 9th annual Little Armenia Beautification Project on Saturday, October 8. With strong support from city officials and local service organizations, this year’s project attracted over 200 volunteers, expanding its reach deeper into the community.
Armed with rakes, shovels, brooms, bags, and painting materials, volunteers proceeded to pick up trash, and remove graffiti throughout Hollywood’s Little Armenia neighborhood district. The mission is to give back to the community and show appreciation for having a part of Los Angeles designated as Little Armenia.
Opening ceremony speeches were offered by Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti, Baidsar Thomassian representing California State Senator Kevin De Leon’s office, Reverend Father Vicken Vassilian from St. Garabed Armenian Church, Edgar Makhsikian of the Little Armenia Chamber of Commerce, AYF Hollywood “Musa Dagh” member Carina Khanjian, representatives of the Hollywood Beautification Team, and Sam Kbushyan of the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council. Each speaker sincerely expressed their gratitude to the volunteers, motivating them and thanking them for devoting their time for the betterment of the community.
The clean-up effort was managed by a committee of volunteers from the AYF Hollywood “Musa Dagh” chapter with strong support from the Armenian National Committee Hollywood chapter, who took on every aspect of planning, organizing and executing the cleanup. The committee worked closely with the offices of Eric Garcetti and Kevin De Leon both of whom cosponsored the beautification. The Little Armenia Chamber of Commerce also provided financial assistance for the project.
AYF Hollywood member and project organizer Carina Khanjian notes, “Working with governmental organizations allowed us to connect with various groups in the community to attract a wide variety of people, and get more work done.” The organizing committee expressed special gratitude to Council President Garcetti for sacrificing part of his day on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur to participate in the clean-up.
This year, the annual Beautification Project had more diverse volunteers than ever before. The Hollywood AYF made a concerted effort to reach out to both local Armenian and non-Armenian organizations. In addition to AYF members and Badanees, contingents of volunteers turned out from Pilibos Armenian School, the Homenetmen Los Angeles Chapter, UCI AEO (Armenian fraternity), Cal State LA ASA, GCC ASA, CSUN ASA and the Fairfax High School Environmental Club. Aside from cleaning up Little Armenia, the beautification project seeks to unify Armenian and non-Armenian youth.
With Little Armenia being home to one of the largest Armenian communities outside the Republic of Armenia, the Little Armenia Beautification Project is an effective way for the youth to give back to their community in what many Armenians call their “home away from home.”
“We constantly need to reaffirm our appreciation and ensure the cleanliness of our home away from home,” says Khanjian. “This project not only keeps the streets of Hollywood clean and beautiful, but it unifies the diverse community of Hollywood with the Armenian-Americans of Los Angeles, proving that one cannot succeed without the other”.
Founded in 1933, the Armenian Youth Federation is the largest and most influential Armenian-American youth organization in the United States working to advance the social, political, educational, and cultural awareness of Armenian-American youth.
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This is exactly the kind of activity our young people should be engaging in. We must regain our reputation of being responsible members of society. We must set an example to others. We must be the trend setters. Instead of asking for help, we must be acknowledged and respected for our deeds to society and mankind. Armenian communities around the world should treat their host countries as their own and ultimately win over the respect we deserve as a great people.