By Maro Keshishian
UNIVERSAL CITY–The Universal City Hilton once again became the scene for Homenetmen festivities when more than 1,500 Armenia’s of all ages converged to celebrate this year’s Navasartian Ball on Saturday–July 5.
Serving as the Honorary Presidents of the 28th Navasartian Games–Homenetmen members Mr. and Mrs. Sarkis and Suzan Kitsinian added to the excitement of the event by donating $30,000 to the Homenetmen Western Region.
Master of Ceremonies Charlie Galian introduced singer Rima Garabedian–who performed the national anthems of Armenia and the US–as well as the Homenetmen anthem.
Western Region Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian offered blessings and congratulated the large Homenetmen family for their work.
The chairman of Homenetmen’s Regional finance committee Dr. Sarkis Arevian–thanked the guests for their presence and introduced the banquet committee members Takoug Tavlian–Cima Garabedian–Sona Kassabian–Jackie Tovmassian–Arsho Beylerian–Jasig Jarahian–and Maggie Ilandjian. Arevian offered heartfelt gratitude to all the benefactors and supporters who made generous donations this year.
He also thanked Shant Haytaian–Jasik Jarahian–the Armenian Jewelers Association–and Honorary Presidents Mr. and Mrs. Kitsinian for their assistance in making the Victory Ball a huge success this year.
Flamenco dancers Hermine and Alan Asrafian added a twist to the evening–performing unique pieces while the guests dined.
The official program began after dinner with MC Galian introducing official honored guests–Homenetmen Central Executive Members Mher Tavitian and wife Sossy and Manuel Marselian and wife Siran–Presidents of the 29th Annual Navasartian Games Mr. and Mrs. Sarkis and Suzan Kitsinian–Western Region Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian–Honorary President of the 27th Annual Navasartian Games Albert Shahinian–ARF Central Committee Representative Hovig Saliba and wife Hilda–and Homenetmen Western Region Chairman Viggen Tavtian and wife Lina.
Other guest present at the event were LA Assistant Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Sarah Dusseault representing Mayor James Hahn–LA County Sheriff Lee Baca and wife–Tevan Aroustamian from the LA County Sheriff’s department–federal judge Dikran Tevrizian and wife–Judge Ronald Soghigian and wife–Mr. and Mrs. Walter Karahian–President of the LA County Civil Service Dimensions Greg Kawedjian–LA Commissioner of Youth Programs Greg Markarian–Commissioner of the City of LA Peklar Pilavjian–Duarte Mayor Goerge Chapjian–Glendale City Council Assemblymember Bob Yousefian–System Of A Down Singer Serj Tankian–Senior Special Advisor to LA Sheriff Partarell Kassal–Honorary Chairpersons of previous Navasartian Games–representatives of affiliate organizations–and numerous other guests.
Galian revealed that longtime Homenetmen benefactor Ashkhen Pilavjian will be missing the Victory Ball this due to a recent operation–and wished her a speedy recovery.
Chairman Viggen Tavtian conveyed the Homenetmen Western Region’s message–noting that the Victory Ball does not celebrate individual victories and achievemen’s–rather the collective victories of the Navasartian Games–of the region’s 19 chapters–and ultimately the victory of the great organization–Homenetmen with its army of volunteers. ". . . Please stop and think for a moment; isn’t it amazing that his entire program–by and large–is organized and implemented through volunteer efforts?" He said.
Noting the increase in intensity and volume of the Navasartian Games–Tavtian revealed that it is becoming difficult to continue volunteer programs and contributions with consistent vigor and energy–year after year. "But–in today’s dangerous and unpredictable world–it is even more important to validate our resolve. . . for the sake of our youth who are the future of our society."
He concluded by providing words for thought: "Giving to Homenetmen is a just cause. In fact–it is one of the most honorable causes. By giving to Homenetmen–you give to the future of our community. And this should be everyone’s goal."
Tavtian then read a letter from previous Homenetmen Central Executive member Koko Balian congratulating this year’s Honorary Presidents–the Kitsinians–as well as 2003 Exemplary Homenetmen member Vartkes Alahaydoian–and all Homenetmen members in making this year’s games and activities a success.
MC Galian announced that the recipient of the 2003 Exemplary Homenetmen member award Vartkes Alahaydoian–due to extenuating circumstances–was unable to attend the evening’s event and will receive his honor at the Navasartian closing ceremonies.
A video presentation on the life of Mr. and Mrs. Kitsinian was aired–after which the symbolic transfer of the Navasartian band from the previous chair was made to the 2003 chairpersons.
2002 President Albert Shahinian–handing over the Navasartian band to the 2003 chairpersons–symbolically transferred the responsibilities and duties of the Navasartian Presidency.
In appreciation of Mr. and Mrs. Kitsinian’s dedication to creating a healthy environment for youth–specifically Homenetmen youth–Mayor Hahn’s representative Sarah Dusseault presented the couple a certificate of appreciation from Mayor Hahn.
Honorary President Sarkis Kitsinian–addressing the gathering–first thanked the Homenetmen Western Region Executive for honoring him and wife Suzan with the Honorary Presidency of the 2003 Navasartian games. He conveyed the honor that dedicated Homenetmen members bring to the organization with their years of service and selfless dedication to Armenian youth and the community.
Kitsinian went on to thank Archbishop Mardirossian–ARF members–Homenetmen chapters–fellow members of the Armenian Jewelers Association–friends–and the Kitsinian and Sassounian family members for their support in realizing the goals of Homenetmen.
Kitsinian also recognized and greeted past Honorary Presidents of the Navasartian Games who were present: Albert Shahinian–Jirair and Serpoog Sarkisian–Andy and Arlene Andonian–Garbis and Terez Kemanjian–George Adamian and Sarkis Arevian.
Speaking about the effectiveness of Homenetmen in embracing the community to bring about cohesiveness–Kitsinian said–"Since Homenetmen was founded in 1918–it has provided the Armenian nation a place where Armenia’s of all backgrounds could join together in solidarity. This served an important role in the Diaspora. . . to foster civic–political–athletic–national–and intellectual leaders who have contributed to the safekeeping of the Armenian youth and helped to secure a better future."
Kitsinian paid tribute to the deceased members who succeeded in building Homenetmen’s legacy: His Holiness Vasken I of all Armenia’s–Homenetmen founders Dickran Khoyan and Krikor Hagopian–national philanthropist Archi Dickranian–Homenetmen leaders Vartkess Der Garabedian–Kerop Arakelian and Jirair Boyadian–and ARF leader Hrair Maroukhian–all of whom lead a dedicated life–and through their leadership in Homenetmen–served the Armenian nation and various communities.
Kitsinian concluded his English address by saying–"Both Suzan and I are proud to have been lifelong members of Homenetmen. There can be no doubt that Homenetmen has provided guidance–character–and cultural wealth in our lives. We are honored to serve as this year’s Honorary Presidents and thank you for joining us in celebrating the spirit of Homenetmen."
Honorary President Suzan Kitsinian expressed appreciation for being presented the honor of the 2003 Navasartian presidency–and offered gratitude to the organization for its assistance in the noble cause of preserving Armenian national identity.
"We [Sarkis and I] were both raised by parents who held dear to their hearts the spirit of Armenian nationalism and intense love for the homeland. Our parents and their generation overcame financial–social and other difficulties thanks to the input of a great organization such as this that enabled them to strengthen their resolve and optimism. Our parents took the scout movement–Armenian dance–the Church–religion–our language and our songs–and made an Armenia for us. And this is Homenetmen’s strength. Homenetmen’s mission embraces a secret; thanks to its sacred mission–Homenetmen lives on for generations. . ."
In closing the formal program–MC Charlie Galian spoke of the significance of the July 4 Independence holiday.
"Freedom is dear. Our people struggled–protested–and persisted for 68 long years to witness–once again–a free and independent Armenian–this time in 1990. Freedom is dear. The Mountainous Karabagh liberation movement reminds us all of the true spirit of freedom fighters–a spirit that protects those lands to this day–our lands. Yes–freedom is dear–and we were all reminded–perhaps for the first time in our lives–when the twin towers collapsed–of how sacred our freedoms are. Organizations like Homenetmen understand the meaning and role of freedom well. For 85 long years–Homenetmen–with its cultural–social and athletic and scouting programs–and with its motto ‘Elevate Yourself And Elevate Others with You’ has been dedicated to youth and ideals of freedom–guiding youth toward new heights and to conquer new goals–becoming the protectors of freedoms."