SANTA ANA, CA–Over 350 people crowded Santa Ana’s Gugasian Hall on Wednesday to for the annual Orange County ARF Armen Garo Committee’s May 28th celebrations, where a local professor pledged to donate over 200,000 to "liberate" the Orange County Armenian Center from its Mortgage.
During the celebration, which featured solos by Dr. Viken Yacoubian and Karnig Sarkissian, 32-year Orange County resident, Prof. Harut Barsamian announced that he would pay off the Orange County Armenian Center mortgage balance within a couple of days. The 8-year old center is to be renamed in his honor.
Barsamian promised to pay the $210,000 balance of the Armenian Center’s mortgage. Dr. Garo Agopian, who introduced Barsamian as a strong and warm-hearted person, said his donation on Armenia’s independence day was ver special. He exclaimed that Barsamian’s donation on the day signified the liberation of the OC Armenian Center from its mortgage. Following the announcement, the Gugasian Hall exploded with "Hoorah"s and claps as attendees stood up from their chairs cheering the donor.
Barsamian explained how he was touched by show of emotion and the attendance of the the Armenian Consule in Los Angeles Armen Liloyan. The professor explained that the Armenian Center is dear to him, explaining that it is an institution, which helps to preserve and promote the Armenian spirit and culture. His role, he continued, was to free the center from its debt, so it could do more for the commuity, especially the new generation. He thanked Garo and Salpi Agopians, Shoushig Arslanian, and many others who helped him to be honored in this new role.
ARF Armen Garo Committee Chair Dikran Sassounian kicked off the ceremonial aspect of the celebrations by inviting Forty Martyrs Armenian Church Parish Priest, Rev. Hrant Yeretsian to do the invocation. Sassounian proceeded to explain that the organizing committee included representatives from the local community organizations and the feast was prepared by the members of the ARS Sevan Chapter and Church Ladies Auxiliary. He handed plaques to ARS Sevan Chapter members Loucine Dishoyan and Janet Badolian in recognition of their dedication and support of the OC Armenian Center. Yeretsgin Hayganoush Kaloustian received the plaque on behalf of Badolian.
In his address, LA Consul General Armen Liloyan stressed the importance of national unity as a factor for past successes and ongoing endurance, as a legacy of the first independence of Armenia.
He noted that international developmen’s provide new challenges for Armenia, which require the combined efforts of the homeland with the Diaspora. Liloyan praised the strong relations that exist between the Armenia Foreign Service officials and the Diaspora communities. The effectiveness of the Diaspora’s lobbying, he commented, helps us make Armenia’s voice heard internationally.
The keynote speaker, Hovig Saliba, said he was thankful for the opportunity to attend the celebration, but noted that he would have liked to be in Armenia for May 28–not just as a tourist, but a permanent resident.
In his remarks, Saliba advocated a collective effort to bring the Armenian lands and Armenia’s together, while maintaining and strengthening the Diaspora.
On behalf of the Armen Garo Committee, Sassounian awarded to Barsamian a memento of the founders of the ARF.
June 11 is the 8th anniversary of the OC Armenian Center. On that day, it will be renamed as the "Harut Barsamian Armenian Center".