An Event a Quarter Century in the Making

Leaders of the Burbank Armenian community at the Beshir Mardirossian Burbank Youth Center's ribbon cutting ceremony

BURBANK—The ACF Beshir Mardirossian Burbank Youth Center (BYC) formally opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony on October 6.

Not even the heat deterred over 300 participants in this festive, open air, occasion. The Armenian Cultural Foundation— Burbank (ACF – Burbank) had been working towards this day since 1990, with numerous heartbreaks along the way as many promising opportunities fell out of reach. But with the door-opening contribution from Mr. & Mrs. Timmy & Seda Mardirossian, after whose father the center is named, coupled with an opportune real estate market, and funds ACF— Burbank had slowly accumulated, the facility at 75 E. Santa Anita Avenue in Burbank was purchased. This bold step required the confidence that community members and institutions would rally to the cause.

They did.

As pointed out by organizing committee chair Silva Kechichian during her opening remarks, this success is owed to having “a clear goal, a community committed to realizing that goal, and youth who make that goal a reality.” The family of organizations now serving the Burbank community from the BYC have met this challenge.

Joining this family’s and community’s celebration were numerous dignitaries. From Burbank’s City Council, Vice Mayor David Gordon and member Bob Frutos were in attendance, as well as Police Chief Scott LaChasse and School Board member Roberta Reynolds. From neighboring Glendale, City Council members Ara Najarian and Zareh Sinanyan, School Board member Dr Armina Gharpetian, and City Clerk Ardashes Kassakhian joined the festivities. City Council members Paul Krekorian of Los Angeles and Jack Hadjinian from Montebello also showed their support by attending the ribbon cutting. Interestingly, Kassakhian, Krekorian, and Sinanyan were once active members of the Burbank ANCA, one of the family of organizations serving the community at the BYC. Of course local legislators Cong. Adam Schiff, State Senator Carol Liu, and Assemblymember Mike Gatto made their presence felt through their representatives.

A scene from the ribbon cutting ceremony

Spearheading the efforts to make the BYC a reality, the Burbank ARF has spared no effort. Co-chair Vartan Deirdeirian summed up the center’s driving spirit when during his remarks he emphasized, “We look forward to forging new partnerships with other stakeholders in the community in order to maximize the potential of the Center. We continue to look to new partners who will expand the services provided out of this Center and attract more of the community to its programs.” Demonstrating the Armenian community’s support for the efforts in Burbank through their presence were Souren Vardanian from the Republic of Armenia’s Los Angeles Consulate General, Nora Hovsepian— ANCA Western Region chair, Ara Khachatourian— English language editor of the  Asbarez Daily Newspaper, and Vicky Marashlian— ARS Central Executive chair.

But the largest contingent of BYC supporters present were those involved in the ARS “Araz” chapter and the Homenetmen “Sipan” Chapter. This organization does the lion’s share of providing youth, scouting, and athletic services to the community.

The brief formal program also included Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate of the Western USA Armenian Apostolic Church who commenced the ribbon cuttings with an invocation. He was preceded by Dr. Viken Hovsepian, regional ARF representative whose remarks described the broad arc of the work done by Armenians worldwide in pursuit of national goals, community cohesion, and public service.

Then it was on to ribbon after ribbon being snipped by the biggest contributors, starting with the Mardirossians at the entrance and moving on to the rooms (some as yet unbuilt) made possible by the Forest Lawn Foundation, Jeanette Shaverdian-Zakari, Babken & Gohar Esmailian, Viken Ohanian, St Mary’s Armenian Apostolic Church – Glendale, Mr. & Mrs. Harout & Vicky Marashlian, the Tchaghlassian Family, and once again, Seda Mardirossian.

Perhaps the most heartwarming and comprehensive thoughts were expressed by the spokesperson of the Armenian Youth Federation Juniors’ Gaidzag Chapter, Oorie Garabedian, when she said, “For us, this is a second home where we come to learn, help friends, and work on maintaining our heritage.”

The Armenian Cultural Foundation— Burbank maintains facilities for various organizations to provide for youth, social, and cultural needs and promotes increased volunteer participation in the community.


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