Annual OC Armenian Community Meeting a Huge Success

Leaders of the Orange County Armenian community meeting at Santa Ana's Armenian Community Center

Meeting of Armenian Organizations in OC Reaffirms ‘Unity Is Our Strength’

SANTA ANA, Calif.—The ARF “Armen Karo” Gomideh organized the second annual meeting of the collective leadership of the Armenian community in Orange County. On Monday February 24, 2014 over 50 representatives from the executive boards of Armenian community organizations, institutions, and both churches came together at the Armenian Community Center.

Reverend Fathers Moushegh Tashjian and Karekin Bedourian opened the meeting with a traditional Armenian prayer after which ARF “Armen Karo” Chairman, Garo R. Madenlian, welcomed the participants to this annual meeting where the collective leadership of the Armenian community gathers and discusses issues important to the whole. He reinforced that the Armenian Center is everyone’s second home and explained, “We are all from the same community and working for the same cause, each within its own mission statement but all leading to the same end.” He went on to explain the importance of working together to encourage the youth to get involved, especially in light of the aggressive propaganda campaign being implemented by the Azeris in the U.S. and specifically in OC.

Each representative introduced themselves and their organization after which the meeting discussed ways to improve communication between the organizations, coordinate events, and the creation of a public master calendar incorporating each organization’s major events for the year. All agreed to commemorate the Armenian Genocide together again this year, which the ANCA OC chapter will organize with the participation of all the organizations. The meeting then discussed the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide where St. Mary Armenian Church announced that it will be building a monument on its grounds commemorating the tragedy so that both Armenian churches in Orange County will have a place to remember the victims of the first genocide of the 20th century. An open and healthy exchange of ideas took place with a number of suggestions for 2015 including everything from a walkathon as in past years to a large gathering and musical concert in a public auditorium, to presentations to students at public schools. Finally the meeting decided to from a special committee to organize and coordinate centennial commemoration events in Orange County.

Kohar Zaher, Ari Guiragos Minassian School Principal provided an informative power point presentation highlighting the advances and successes of the only daily Armenian school in Orange County. She started by acknowledging the contributions and support of all the organizations and the community, specifically mentioning the PTO and Spirit committees. She explained how the student population has nearly doubled in the past 6 years and detailed the various facility upgrades and accreditations AGM has received. Mrs. Zaher answered questions from the attendees, who expressed their gratitude to the administration and school board for their tireless efforts.

The next agenda item involved the youth. Alique Cherchian spoke on behalf of the AYF Ashod Yergat chapter and discussed some of their plans including a fundraiser for their Gyumri Project to renovate the Armenian Center in Gyumri creating a gathering place for the youth and to help reestablish and strengthen the ARF junior organization (Badanegan) there. The meeting commended the AYF for taking the initiative and expressed its support for this project. Many suggested that each organization follow the AYF’s example and take on a project Gyumri.

UCI Armenian Student Association (ASA) executive member Ani Aslanian highlighted their ongoing activities on campus such as Armenian cultural events and spreading awareness regarding the Armenian Genocide where they have planned an entire week of activities on campus this April. She went on to explain that Azerbaijan’s Consulate General will be speaking at UCI on February 24th and that they along with the AYF and ANCA OC will be prepared with questions to expose Azerbaijan’s lies about Armenia and Artsakh. They encouraged all to join the youth at UCI to counter Azerbaijan’s deceitful propaganda. They also discussed the importance of the Armenian Studies program and invited the community to the lecture series at UCI.

Aaorn Karatas spoke on behalf of the ACYO in Orange County. He commended the AYF for the Gyumri project and explained how the ACYO had helped restore a church in Armenia. He went on to express how important it was for the youth to work together on these and future projects. The meeting suggested that the youth organize a youth summit similar to this meeting for all Armenian youth organizations in Orange County and asked that AYF and ACYO work closely together with UCI ASA to do so in the near future.

ARF Armen Karo Chairman Garo Madenlian thanked all those present for attending and participating with positive ideas and constructive feedback. He went on to reinforce that by working together we can best serve our people today and in the future as we move closer to achieving our national goals. He specifically thanked the youth for being involved and active, for taking the initiative and standing up for and defending Armenian national issues. He reassured the meeting that the future is in good hands because of our intelligent, dynamic, active and patriotic youth and that we all should continue to support them.

Prior to adjourning the meeting, the representatives unanimously adopted “Unity is Our Strength” once again as the motto for 2014 and each vowed to be guided by this principle during the year. After the meeting many continued to discuss activities, events, and various partnership opportunities over coffee and pastries.

Many commended the ARF for continuing this tradition, and for maintaining a positive atmosphere, having an open door policy and unifying the Orange County Armenian community. They thanked the ARF for encouraging everyone to organize and coordinate efforts, for providing information and a forum to share ideas, and to encourage everyone to work together for our common causes.

Participating organizations: ACYO, AGBU, ANCA OC, AGM Armenian School, ARF Armen Karo Gomideh, AYF Ashod Yergat chapter, AYF Advisor, AYF Serop Aghpiur Juniors Advisor, ARS Karni, ARS Sevan, Hamazkayin Siamanto, Homenetmen Sartarabad, Fortry Martyrs Armenian Church, OC Armenian Professional Society, Saint Mary Armenian Church, Society for Orphan Armenians Relief, UCI Armenian Students Association.

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