PASADENA—The Armenian Relief Society (ARS) of Western USA, convened its 95th Annual Regional Convention on July 16-19 at the Pasadena Armenian Center. The Convention was hosted by the ARS Regional Executive and organized by an appointed committee.
Representative of His Eminence Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Rev. Fr. Boghos Baltayan, ARS Central Executive Board Chairperson Vicky Marashlian and Board Member Annie Kechichian, ARF Pasadena Lernavayr Gomideh Representative Sarkis Tatigian, Regional Executive guests, elected delegates and observers of the Convention were present.
After the presentation of the American, Armenian, and ARS anthems, the invocation was performed by Rev. Fr. Boghos Baltayan. Rev. Fr. Baltayan congratulated the extended ARS family and presented well wishes to the ARS Convention. After which, he read Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian’s message to the Convention.
Archbishop Mardirossian’s message stated that the work of the ARS has been the most noteworthy and dedicated, because this great women’s organization has been able to assist all those in need including orphans, widows, families, elderly, and students. Throughout the past years, the life of the Armenian people has undergone changes and the work of the ARS has also changed, however the spirit and the essence of the organization has remained the same, always dedicated to the betterment of its people, Armenia, Artsakh, Javakhk and all Armenian communities.
After Rev. Fr. Boghos Baltayan’s message, on behalf of the Regional Executive, Co-Chairperson Rebecca Berberian presented welcoming remarks. Berberian thanked those present and the Regional Executive for always supporting and standing by the ARS. She invited attendees to stand for a moment of silence dedicated to the memory of departed ARS members, who passed away during the previous year. Berberian also thanked the organizing committee and the office staff for diligently carrying out their responsibilities.
Berberian stated, “Our expectation is that this thoughtfully prepared annual report, is reviewed carefully, and based on the results and experiences of the past year, the Convention decides the direction for the next year. It is both the responsibility and expectation of the delegates to establish constructive and thoughtful priorities for the next fiscal year.”
ARS Central Executive Board remarks were presented by Annie Kechichian. She emphasized the need to adopt new ideas, in order to achieve successes and be able to face ongoing international challenges. She noted that this is not possible without drawing in the strengths of the youth. She also highly commended ARS members for continuing to ensure that generations of Armenians uphold their Armenian identity. Kechichian noted that the future of the Armenian people is in the hands of the new generation and emphasized the significance of the reconstruction project of the ARS Stepanakert Sosse Kindergarten building, which is a project undertaken by the ARS Central Executive Board. Signifying the importance of assisting Artsakh, she wished the ARS 95th Annual Regional Convention great success.
Co-Chairperson Maral Matossian also presented remarks. She described the ARS member as patriotic, kind-hearted, compassionate, knowledgeable, altruistic, and selfless and looked to each ARS member as figures, who possess these qualities.
Matossian congratulated the 125th Anniversary of the ARF, the founding organization of the ARS, which has always supported the organization. She stressed the importance of continuing to further their national duties and particularly emphasized the need to assist families of veterans and soldiers, ARS Sosse Kindergartens, Armenian youth centers in Javakhk, the Syrian-Armenian community, local communities, and ARS schools.
She called on meeting participants to collectively work together to further their goals in benefit of the organization, people, and homeland.
Having the highest level meeting of the ARS deemed officially opened, Matossian called on delegates to be demanding, yet fair and forgiving in both their commendations and evaluations.
Prior to the start of the Convention agenda, Dr. Vicken Hovsepian presented remarks on behalf of the ARF Central Committee. He stated that they are faced with the same challenges and their sights are set on reaching the same goals. He remarked that during our daily routine, we do not realize that we live in a very dynamic community. This community continues to grow in numbers, but it is the responsibility of each of us, to ensure that our community excels in quality as well, so that our mission can be even furthered to benefit our nation and homeland. Hovsepian commended the outgoing Regional Executive and wished the Convention success.
63 delegates from the Region’s 26 chapters participated in the Convention. The ARS Central Executive Board’s representative was Annie Kechichian. ARS Central Executive Board Chairperson Vicky Marashlian and ARF Central Committee Chairperson Dr. Vicken Hovsepian participated in the meeting as well. The Regional Executive’s guests to the Convention were Hasmig Derderian and Caspar Jivalagian, Esq.
After the election of the Credentials Examination Committee and the review and approval of the delegate questionnaires, the meeting was deemed official. Nyree Derderian (Armenian) and Lara Kazandjian (English) were elected convention co-chairpersons, and Manoushag Degirmenjian and Ankine Hagopian were elected Armenian secretaries, and Maral Poladian and Carmen Libaridian were elected English secretaries.
The officers of the Convention were entrusted with the responsibilities of Parliamentarian and eight members of the ARS Sosse Chapter volunteered as sergeant-at-arms. The office was given the responsibility of reporter.
The Convention invited Lena Bozoyan, Seta Khojayan, Marie Arabian, and Rose Altounian as non-voting guests.
Since the Regional Executive report along with the ARS Social Services and ARS Child, Youth, and Family Guidance Center reports were forwarded to the delegates beforehand, delegates were given the opportunity to ask questions of clarification. After which, the Regional Executive’s annual financial report was presented and time was given for questions. Following the presentation of the Regional Executive’s reports, Annie Kechichian read the Central Executive’s annual report. Thereafter, a video was presented about the reconstruction project for the ARS Sosse Kindergarten in Stepanakert, for which a fundraising committee has been appointed. Seda Khojayan provided further explanations about the committee’s ongoing efforts and encouraged the meeting participants to take part in the fundraising initiative. Many generous donations were made for this important cause.
Following this, the Archival and Auditing Committee reports were read and the Regional Executive’s financial and annual reports were evaluated. The year-long work of the Regional Executive was highly commended.
Thereafter, delegates, at their own choosing, joined groups to evaluate and revise resolutions submitted by chapters, which relate to educational, public relations, fundraising, and membership programs, community, Armenia, Artsakh, and Javakhk assistance programs, Bylaws, and the ARS 71st International Convention resolutions. The most significant resolutions were adopted, which will greatly contribute to the Regional Executive’s annual agenda.
The Convention approved the biannual budget and elected the following nine-person Regional Executive body, for the next two years: Rita Hintlian, Rebecca Berberian, Aida Babayan, Satenig Ghazarian, Maral Matossian, Vicky Kataroyan, Maro Papazian, Tamar Orichian, and Nanik Kupelian.
The Convention also elected the following four delegates to represent the Region at the ARS International Convention, which will be held on October 4-9, 2015 in Armenia: Nyree Derderian, Maral Matossian, Arousyak Melkonian, and Tamar Orichian. A Regional Executive representative will also join this delegation.
After the election of the Auditing Committee, Nyree Derderian thanked the meeting participants for their efforts throughout the past four days, and also the Regional Executive’s office staff for thoroughly completing their entrusted duties.
Outgoing Regional Executive members, Judy Jingirian, Adrine Postoyan, Araxy Aykanian, Nanik Kupelian, and Maral Matossian were commended and presented with special plaques for their dedicated service to the ARS throughout the past two years.
The meeting concluded at 8 pm on Sunday evening. The newly elected Regional Executive convened its first plenary meeting with the participation of the Convention officers and Central Executive Board representative Annie Kechichian, during which the officers of the Regional Executive were elected as follows: Rebecca Berberian (Chairperson), Maral Matossian (Vice-Chairperson), Rita Hintlian (Secretary), Aida Babayan (Treasurer), Tamar Orichian (Accountant), and Nanik Kupelian, Satenig Ghazarian, Vicky Kataroyan, and Maro Papazian as advisors.
The Armenian Relief Society of Western USA, established in 1984 and with regional headquarters in Glendale, CA, has 26 chapters and more than 1,200 members in four western states. The ARS operates a Social Services Division and Child, Youth, and Family Guidance Center, and funds numerous youth programs, scholarships, and relief efforts. For further information or to make a donation, please visit www.arswestusa.org or mail your check to: ARS Javakhk Fund, 517 W. Glenoaks Blvd., Glendale, CA 91202-2812.