STUDIO CITY–The desperate housewives of Mysteria Lane saw Homenetmen overtake their neighborhood last Saturday evening as hundreds flooded CBS Studio Center for the Navasartian Victory Ball and Banquet that took place on the lot of CBS studios where the program is actually filmed.
A first-ever setting for Homenetmen, the outdoor gathering attracted over 700 people who celebrated the 33rd year of the massive athletic competitions and the four day festival that began on July 3, and will run through the weekend.
Wachovia Bank sponsored the lavish ball that required guests to walk the red carpet for cocktail hour before the actual banquet and celebration.
The evening was hosted by Armenian National Committee’s (ANC) Raffi Hamparian who conveyed the organization’s mission through his introduction and characterization of Homenetmen. "Elevate yourselves and others with you. Each of you struggle in your own way to achieve certain levels; Homenetmen is always ready to take on the difficult tasks, to preserve national identity, our lives; to serve as the international leader of Armenian youth."
Hamparian introduced special guests Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian and Rev. Father Gomidas Torosian, Homenetmen Central Executive Vice Chairman Koko Balian, Armenia’s Consul General in Los Angeles Armen Liloyan, US Congressman Brad Sherman, ARF West Central Committee representative Hagop Tufenkian, California State Assembly Member Anthony Portantino, California State Senate member Paul Krekorian, Armenia Fund president Harout Sassounian, Glendale City Clerk Ardashes Kassakhian, representatives of ARS and Hamazkayin Regional Executive bodies, ANC representatives and others, including past Navasartain honorary presidents, exemplary members, sponsors and supporters, and a younger element from Homenetmen various chapters.
A video presentation depicted the dedication of Homenetmen members in the Western Region of the United States, which boasts a volunteer force of 8500. Through the guidance of scout and athletic leadership and devout parents, the organization continues to shape youth with its programs and activities.
The presentation also conveyed the mission of 33rd Navasartian Honorary Presidents Vahagn and Baydsar Thomasian and their daughter Soseh, all active participants in Homenetmen activities.
Embodying the mission, goodness and dedication of exactly how a model Homenetmen member should be, Y. Albert Ounjian was bestowed the title of Exemplary Homenetmen member. "Y. Ounjian’s 73 years of service to Homenetmen mirrors, true to form, the qualities of an exemplary Homenetmen member," stressed Y. Hovig Bedevian, Vice Chairman of Homenetmen Western Region in presenting the longtime member the honor.
"I am grateful," explained Y. Ounjian after receiving the honor. "I have been a faithful member of this organization since childhood. It’s the best means with which to serve our people and nation; I was born a Homenetmen member and will proudly die one, always ready to carry out my duty to nation and people."
Homenetmen Western Region Chairman Steve Artinian conveyed his board’s message saying: "We operate in five continents through the volunteer efforts of tens of thousands of members and millions of supporters. This organization is priceless. We have more than 300 athletic groups and 4000 athletes alone participating in the Navasartian Games this year." Artinian explained the number exceeds that of athletes participating in the World Olympics.
"This year marks the 40th anniversary of the founding of Homenetmen Western Region. It’s time to grow even greater, to find solutions and to expand our limits."
The Chairman noted the financial contribution of the Lincy Foundation, the generosity of Edward Sislian who willed a sizeable amount to the organization, and the generosity and hardwork of others, which helped facilitate the recent purchase the 25 acre campground now called Homenetmen Camp Tecuya.
Artinian revealed that the trophies of the 33rd Navasartian Games have been dedicated to the memory of Peter Nourian, a Homenetmen member who passed away in his prime, and invited Peter’s father Krikor and brother Sako to accept one of those trophies.
Following the touching dedication was the transfer of the Honorary presidency from 32nd Navasartian Honorary President Varouj Bedikian to Vahagn and Baydsar Thomasian and their daughter Soseh.
"Vahagn and Baydsar and their daughter Soseh represent a good family, an Armenian family, a Homenetmen family," emcee Hamparian said.
Following the official transfer of titles, Baydsar Thomasian addressed the crowd to express her appreciation of specifically the honor but also the organization as a whole.
"A group of volunteers, embracing the motto "Elevate yourself and others with you," willed all their efforts to gathering our people and shaping them by instilling the values of volunteerism so that they could serve to bring about our national resurgence. Ninety years later, Homenetmen’s volunteer army and its renewed strength, year after year, remains the pride of its people."
Following her mother’s address, Soseh appeared on stage to thank Homenetmen and her parents. "I thank Homenetmen for electing us Navasartian Honorary presidents and my parents for signing me up in Homenetmen and bringing my friends; and I’m very happy that my teacher Mrs. Gassia is in Homenetmen," said the uninhibited seven-year-old."
Congressman Brad Sherman, who has represented the population of San Fernando Valley for the past 12 years, presented the Honarary family a memento and certificate of congratulations.
Vahagn Thomasian expressed his heartfelt thoughts about the organization he serves and supports wholeheartedly, comparing the region’s 40th anniversary with that of his life. "It represents family, faith and Homenetmen."
He compared the modest conditions under which Homenetmen Western Region was founded to those of present day. "Today we have a multi-million dollar center, campground, thousands of members, and plans to have athletic fields and facilities in various cities. This places us in front of new challenges," he said.
After all was said and done, Artinian announced that in their desire to elevate the organization to the next level, the 33rd Navasartian Honorary presidents have established a 100,000 dollar Homenetmen endowment fund which they hope will reach the 1 million dollar mark.
Artinian conveyed his sincere appreciation to Wachovia Bank for their support and financial backing, specifically thanking Leonig Shekherdemian for her initiative and subsequent efforts that led to the partnership.
With an end to the formal program, hundreds descended onto the dance floor to celebrate their organization and all that its future holds, dancing to the sounds of Vatche and his band.