Amenian Relief Society of Western USA Regional Executive’s Message On the occassion of the 86th Regional Convention

It Was the Best of Times; It Was the Worst of Times

As we look back on this year and think of all the events–personalities–civic officials–projects–meetings meetings and more meetings. It seems that this quote from Charles Dickens is very appropriate. The Armenian Relief Society of Western USA–Regional Executive Board–kept up the momentum created last year and grew exponentially in many directions. Delegates from our entire region are meeting in the Whittier Radisson Hotel for the 86th Regional Convention. They brought with them the resolutions and projects from their respective chapters and have listened to the prepared reports and a retrospective look at the year?

The Region has been productive. Our website is filled with the events and personalities of our Region and we have now started including the history of ARS and our region. Check it out at HYPERLINK "http://www.arswestusa.org" www.arswestusa.org and enjoy it with us.

Our ARS Voice program is a reality and as we look back on our first year of programming–we are filled with wonder that with volunteer hours we have been able to enlarge our website and begin a TV program; both vital tools for communicating in this age of technology.

A few days ago–I was reminded that the biggest breakthrough in communication was Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press in 1453; which took the manually written Bible from the hands of the educated elite few; to the people.

Television in the Twentieth Century broadened communication; but the age of the Internet has opened a floodgate of information and communication to every corner of the world.

It is a major credit to the ARS of Western USA that we are linked to the world and we are very proud of it.

This was also a year of challenges–our Social Services battled with grant renewals and cutbacks in staff. The region grappled with ways to encourage membership so that all the generations who join our treasured organization feel welcome and important. Our desire to expand services to reach out to more of our communities’ concerns was hampered by difficulties raising money for local projects.

Just when our challenges would feel too difficult–we would be reminded that the challenges of today are miniscule compared to the challenges of our heroines in the deserts of Der Zor who continued to teach the Armenian letters in the sand while they felt hopeless and violated. Or those members in our 96- year history who awe us with their sacrifices and dedication; walking–not driving–cooking not hiring cooks–writing not using computers; but always focusing on the goals and values of our people–our Armenian Relief Society–as Khatchouhies or Homouhis and always Ungerouhis.

Our challenges include changing attitudes and perceptions in our membership that new ways of doing things is not a reason to forget the traditional ways–but must be used as an avenue to bring in new ideas–new members and new traditions.

As an organization–When we are faced with troubles we wonder why do we have to go through this? We are trying to do good–we are giving with a true heart–and we are appealing for a good cause. Why does God allow these difficulties?

We are then reminded of Malachi 3:3 which says: "And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver"? which speaks of the character of God through the process of refining silver. For those who know the process the silversmith places the silver over the fire and lets it heat up. He needs to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames are the hottest to burn away all the impurities and strengthen the metal. He needs to keep close attention the whole time the silver is in the fire. If the silver is left a moment too long in the flames–it will be destroyed. When the silver shines so that the silversmith can see his image–the silver is ready.

So–we can be reminded that when we feel the heat of the fire on ourselves or on our organization we need to remember that God has His eye on us and will keep watching us until He sees His image in us. We need to know He is watching over us so whatever we are going through we will be purified and strengthened by the challenges.

And challenges we have? Our delegates are faced with getting ready for the following year. They will face the challenge of our social and counseling services–of the needs of our orphans and kindergartens–the needs of bright young Saturday School students–women and children who are abused–and graduates who need scholarships for higher learning. They strive as members–to work to spread our message of service–to encourage others to join hands with us–to donate to our projects–because they know that we still have projects here and in our homeland needing funding.

This is an age of the insidious genocide of our people through apathy–intolerance and indifference to our culture and our brethren in need; busy lives filled with selfish concerns and worshiping of money and status.

Our delegates are different. They introduce and mentor new members–to help and serve one another on a continuous basis–they work to strengthen this important sisterhood–they are generous and help fund our projects so that we may be free to serve our communities large and small–locally and in the homeland. And they are striving to do it all with the most professional and excellent means available. Members of the Armenian Relief Society of Western USA know that they can make a difference; and they do.

Join us in service and encourage the next generation by your giving importance to the work of the previous generation. Join us and be blessed with the uniqueness of the ARS bonds of sisterhood. Join the Armenian Relief Society and make a difference in your life and the lives of others.

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