BY GAIANEH AVANESSIAN
LITTLE ARMENIA—The Armenian Youth Federation mobilized youth from across Southern California to revitalize the streets of Hollywood in the 8th Annual Little Armenia Beautification Project.
Every year since 2003 the AYF gathers hundreds of volunteers to comb the streets of Hollywood, cleaning and beautifying the Little Armenia region of Los Angeles. Organized by the AYF Hollywood “Musa Dagh” Chapter, the event is put together in conjunction with LA City Councilmember Eric Garcetti’s office, as well as CA State Assemblyman Kevin de Leon’s office, to help renew the streets of this densely populated district of East Hollywood.
This year’s program started at Rose and Alex Pilibos on Sunday morning where local civic leaders gave words of encouragement and gratitude to the volunteers. Thomas O’Grady, director of the non-profit organization Enrich LA and member of the Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood Council spoke to the crowd stressing the importance of maintaining and beautifying Little Armenia. Archpriest Reverend Vicken Vassilian from St. Garabed Church also gave his words of praise to the volunteers and thanked them for dedicating time to the betterment of their community.
“Since this area has been named Little Armenia, we have had a special connection to the region as Armenian-American youth” said AYF member and volunteer organizer Azniv Khararjian during her opening remarks. “We realize and understand the significance of this area of Los Angeles, and are honored to be a part of it.”
After the opening ceremony, participants donning lime green t-shirts, split into three groups and began canvassing the streets of Little Armenia. Several AYF members took up their pre-designated roles as group leaders and guided their fellow volunteers throughout the various sections of the district. Group leader and AYF Hollywood member Razmig Maadanian noted, “Little Armenia is our responsibility and we need to take care of it, year in and year out, by cleaning our community.”
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.”
“Little Armenia represents our homeland and we need to take pride in it,” said AYF member Shoghak Kazandjian.
However, the Project impacts more than just Armenians. Local resident Wendy Beccaccini was out for a Saturday morning walk when she stumbled upon the group of volunteers. “I’m so happy to see the youth cleaning within the community. I really appreciate the activity,” she added.
The mission of the Little Armenia Beautification Project is to give back to the community at large and show appreciation for having an area of Los Angeles named in honor of Armenia. The City of Los Angeles Sanitation Department estimates that over the years, nearly 30,000 pounds of trash have been removed from the streets of Hollywood as a result of the youth’s effort.
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.