ACF Annual Banquet Raises $200 000

RICHARD AND TINA CAROLAN CONTRIBUTE $50,000

BEVERLY HILLS–Public officials and community leaders gathered at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on Friday–May 4–for the Armenian Cultural Foundation’s (ACF) annual banquet. This year’s banquet was attended by political figures from Armenia–Lebanon and the East Coast. The $200,000 raised at the gathering will go toward community needs and Armenian lobbying efforts.

Benefactors Richard and Tina Carolan once again demonstrated their continuous support to the community with a generous $50,000 donation. The Carolans have made generous contributions in the past as well. The couple’s donation to the founding of the ACF Center–resulted in the building being named the Peschekerian Center–in memory of Tina Carolan’s parents.

The banquet’s expenses were graciously sponsored by Manuel and Josephine Sasounian. Guests contributed $1,000 to attend this year’s banquet.

The ACF Banquet was attended by Prelate Bishop Moushegh Mardirossian–ARF Bureau member Dr. Vicken Hovsepian–Chairman of the ARF Executive Council of Armenia and Vice President of the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Relations Armen Roustamian–Lebanese Youth and Sports Minister Sebouh Hovnanian–newly-appointed Chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America Ken Hachikian–ARF Western Central Committee representative Viken Yacoubian–Armenian General Consul to Los Angeles Valery Mkrtoumian–Lebanese Consul to Los Angeles John Makaron–UCLA Professor of History Dr. Richard Hovannisian–Glendale City Council member Rafi Manoukian–and Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region Chairman Steve Dadaian.

Opening remarks were made by Master of Ceremony Peklar Pilavjian of the banquet’s organizing committee. Sarkis A. Kitsinian–chairman of the organizing committee–held a moment of silence in memory of longtime ARF Bureau member–intellectual and education Hratch Dasnabedian. Kitsinian spoke of the ACF Trust Fund established in 1987 by a handful of ARF supporters–with an initial contribution of $20,000 each with the goal of raising a $5 million trust. The accumulated proceeds would be used to pay for the Central Committee’s annual operating expenses. Unfortunately these efforts were brought to a halt in 1988–in order to contribute to the financial needs of the Karabakh movement–the earthquake in Armenia–as well as the much-anticipated Declaration of Independence in 1991. Kitsinian said the ACF has withstood the immediate support needed to provide Armenia with financial assistance–although there is still much more to be done. He concluded by recognizing the initial founding fathers of the ACF Trust Fund: Alahaydoyan Vartkes–Berberian Razmig–Boujikian Manas–Dr. Chahbazian Chahin–Garboushian Hrayr–Garboushian Vahan–Kalpakian Brothers–Kitsinian Sarkis–Koundakjian Varoujan–Manougian Vache–Mardirossian Sako–Sassounian Manuel–Shaghzoian Viken–and Stamboulian Haroutioun and Krikor. Kitsinian also introduced new contributors to the fund – Haigoush Kohler-Keghinian and Varant and Houri Melkonian–who made $20,000 donations.

Sebouh Hovnanian–Lebanese Minister of Youth and Sports–spoke of his recent trip to Armenia–where he accompanied Lebanese President Emile Lahoud. Hovnanian presented guests with an overview of the current situation in Armenia–indicating signs of improvement by year’s end. In speaking about Lebanon–Hovnanian mentioned the poor state of the country’s economy. The minister said Lebanon’s development is tied to peace process in the region. According to him–the people of Armenia and Lebanon closely follow the activities of their brethren in California–especially in terms of financial assistance and lobbying efforts. Hovnanian said he hopes the California community will continue to be the backbone of the Diaspora.

In his remarks–Chairman of the ARF Executive Council of Armenia and Vice President of Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Relations–Armen Roustamian appreciated the genuine desire of community member to help realize Armenian goals–strengthen the government of Armenia–and help the homeland prosper. Roustamian briefed guests on the hardships endured by the people of Armenia over the past decade. The ARF’s longtime exile from Armenia was remembered by Roustamian. He mentioned how the party is firmly grounded in the homeland today–and that it is there to stay.

Armenian Consul General Valery Mkrtoumian recognized the role of the ACF. He praised all the structures of the Diaspora–which continue to meet the needs of Armenia’s around the world–along with assisting Armenia. He mentioned how President Robert Kocharian will lead a delegation to New York in the coming days to participate in an investors forum devoted to Armenia.

Newly appointed ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian appreciated the confidence displayed by his colleagues who appointed him to this very important position. Hachikian gave a detailed background on the year-long activities of the ANCA. He spoke of the efforts at having the Armenian Genocide recognized in Congress this past year. Although the Genocide Resolution would have probably been passed in the US House of Representatives–it was pulled due to pressure from the Turkish and Jewish lobbies. However–other accomplishmen’s like the official recognition of the Genocide by 29 US states–were mentioned by Chairman Hachikian. The ANCA’s efforts in securing US assistance to Armenia–and reducing aid to Azerbaijan and Turkey–were also emphasized. Hachikian stressed that official recognition of the Armenian Genocide is the ultimate goal of the ANCA–and that efforts are underway at involving the youth in this process.

ARF Western Central Committee representative Viken Yacoubian thanked the evening’s guests for their support of ARF activities. Yacoubian mentioned how the Western region’s efforts are felt throughout the world–which was attested by Minister Hovnanian of Lebanon–MP Roustamian of Armenia–and Chairman Hachikian of the East Coast. "Our efforts are spread from the lobbying in Washington to Armenia–to the mountains of Artsakh–to Javakhk," stated Yacoubian. The Central Committee representative touched upon the various activities of the ARF within the region–and recognized the role of the people in the success of the these initiatives. He stressed the ARF’s responsibilities go beyond recognition of the Genocide. Issues such as the struggle in Artsakh–the situation in Javakhk–and the rehabilitation of the Armenian economy are also on the ARF’s agenda. The issue of maintaining the Diaspora also needs to be addressed. In his concluding remarks–Yacoubian thanked all who have supported the ARF and the activities of the ANC with continuous contributions. He praised the Carolanns and Sasounians for their donations.

The national anthems were performed by Anahid Nercessian and pianist Armen Aharonian at the opening of the banquet. A quartet led by Roupen Haroutunian performed during the event. A video presentation prepared by Horizon was shown documenting the year-long activities of the ARF and its various affiliated organizations. Efforts at securing recognition of the Genocide in the United States was featured in the video.

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