BY RAFFI HAMPARIAN
As U.S. Senator Robert Menendez turned a corner in the Santa Monica, California home of longtime Armenian National Committee of America supporter Ashkhen Pilvajian several years ago, he paused. The Senator, who serves on the powerful U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was face to face with a wall of Republican memorabilia, including thank you notes from President George H.W. Bush and awards from the Republican National Committee. Had the Senator come to the wrong home? The answer of course was no, but he had come into the special home of longtime ANCA supporter Ashkhen Pilavjian, who will be marking her 80th birthday this month.
For Ashkhen Pilavjian, a stalwart GOP supporter, having a prominent Democratic Senator over her home made sense for one simple reason. Senator Menendez has consistently earned an A+ grade from the ANCA and has been a fearless proponent of ending Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide. For Ashkhen, the Armenian Cause has always been more important than her affinity for a particular political party. For this and her generous philanthropic support for the Armenian Cause, Ashkhen was honored by the ANCA with a prestigious Legacy Award at the organization’s annual banquet held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley in October of 2008.
“Ashkhen Pilavjian is a great Armenian American,” shared William Bairamian, the ANCA-Western Region’s Executive Director. As we celebrate her 80th birthday we can confidently share that she is, in so many ways, a shining example of a model Armenian American. She is both giving and kind, both smart and understanding. And for the ANCA, her generous financial support has made much of what we do for the community possible. We cannot thank Ashkhen Pilvajian enough,” Bairamian emphasized.
Ashkhen Pilavjian has long been an active member of the Armenian American community, as was her late husband Alexan Pilavjian. Her husband Alexan was very involved with Homenetmen and was a respected member of many other community organizations both in Beirut, Lebanon and later in the United States. Over the years Ashkhen has directed her philanthropic efforts in support of several prominent Armenian organizations and institutions, including the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Armenian Cultural Foundation, Armenian National Committee of America, Homenetmen, Armenian Relief Society as well as many Armenian schools.
“I encourage all young Armenian Americans to get involved in the ANCA,” shared Pilavjian in a recent interview. “Each and every one of us has to do our share in preserving the Armenian American community in the United States. If every individual contributes some time and energy we can go very far. I believe that everybody should lend a hand to support the great work of the ANCA,” she added.
The Armenian National Committee of America-Western salutes Ashkhen Pilavjian on the occasion of her 80th birthday and wishes her continued health and happiness in the years to come.