BY PATTYL APOSHIAN KASPARIAN
I’m told character is who you are and what you do when no one is looking. Maybe. But here’s another thought.
Character is what you are exposed to when everyone is watching–when every move counts, decisions are ambiguous and temptations are greatest. In other words, character – for better or for worse – is what you do and how you act when the going gets tough.
To build and develop character is not easy—especially when it comes to the non-profit sector. When you volunteer your time, energy and talent, you are at will. No paycheck. No family ties. No pink slip or boss to reprimand you. When the water boils, you’re a free agent. Walk away and don’t look back.
Imagine the character building surrounding the 2012 ANCA-WR Annual Banquet. Program, honorees, timeline, fundraising, sponsorship, guest relations and media coupled with history book worthy Presidential, Congressional and Statewide elections. If any environment can get the water boiling, this is it!
No need to be a glutton for punishment, but there is a certain discipline and satisfaction with realizing that choosing the less convenient and even grueling path pays a higher dividend. To say that the ANCA-WR office was working over-time this year is an understatement. In the months leading to the banquet, the ANCA-WR office was electrifying. Once the elevator doors cracked open, the energy of the 2nd floor hit hard. It embraced you like a boutique cardio studio pumped with pure oxygen. Within minutes, you lost track of time and pending responsibilities and absorbed the natural high of being a part of a huge victory. For the late comers, the problem wasn’t finding a legal parking space or a seat at the table– it was finding a seat period!
As highlighted by the hundreds of Facebook and Instragram posts, articles and pictures, the Annual Banquet was a huge hit. More than 1,000 guests, supporters and friends celebrated the success of the ANCA-WR with a grand reception dinner and awards ceremony featuring activists and community leaders who have maintained an extreme level of commitment to advance the Armenian Cause.
Energized volunteer force.
The success of the annual banquet belongs to our volunteers. This year, our committee was 20 volunteers strong. Our volunteers joined our ANCA family from all walks of life and professions. The team featured a collective force of experience, skill and knowledge. This year’s volunteers energized not only the program but galvanized the jaded veterans.
New ANCA volunteers jumped on board and took ownership of major projects. From programming to silent auction to database to decor, the meeting room continuously erupted with passion and talent. As the weeks passed and friendships formed over lukewarm coffee and stale peanuts, the tables turned. Novice members would call the old-timers with progress reports and instructions. I remember the colorful words I mentally repeated when I was called in to the office on a Friday night by the newest member of our ANCA family to help with a project. As I changed into my never-to-be-worn-in-public Roxy sweats and slipped on my Havaianas, I realized that the measure of success is not the banquet itself—but the growth and embrace of our most valued asset—our supporters and friends.
I skipped and jumped into the ANCA-WR office a few minutes past 9:00 p.m. with the energy of an Olympian. I joined three young, beautiful and fabulous professionals who drove to Glendale in Friday evening traffic to help OUR organization. Over greasy In-and-Out burgers and small talk, we worked past midnight and made sure one more item was crossed off the banquet to-do list. And the list goes on with examples galore.
So if there is one sure way to develop character, this committee did it. We set unprecedented records. We received rave review from Congressional offices, guests and supporters. We informed, educated and motivated our grassroots to embrace another year of activism in our region.
We did well!
To my teammates! We live in a world where we all need to multi-task. We look for ways to make things easier. We identify apps to help us juggle life. We outsource. We align forces. We laugh. We yell. We scream. We throw tantrums. We celebrate. We motivate. And at the end, we reflect on the power of unity, guided by passion and motivated by our Cause and we realize, once again, that what we do serves a two-fold purpose– it builds character and builds our future.
One Nation. One Future. One Cause.