Armenia’s Follow Diasporan Lead

YEREVAN–For the first time Armenia’s leading citizens, who see the positive outcomes of projects carried out by the Fund for Armenian Relief, are stepping forward to support the organization’s efforts to bring hope, opportunity, and empowerment to the nation.

Over the past couple of years, some of Armenia’s citizens realized the continued necessity for FAR’s programs, particularly its Children’s Support Center in Yerevan, which proactively works to keep at-risk children in stable, safe, intact homes. Dubbed the Circle of Friends, the group coalesced in 2006 under the chairmanship of former Armenian First Lady Bella Kocharyan and recently raised more than US$ 100,000 for the Children’s Center.

"It is a sign of how important FAR is to the people of Armenia that Mrs. Kocharyan and many other Armenian dignitaries and luminaries have become benefactors of FAR and its programs," said Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, President of FAR and Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern). "This is a unique start to a new direction. We are witnessing a new trend when Armenia’s in Armenia are stepping forward to take increased responsibility in its development. This truly shows FAR is not a charity handout but indeed a partnership with the Armenian people."

The latest effort by the Circle of Friends was a September fundraising charity dinner with 250 special guests. The evening included an exhibit of children’s artwork, as well as performances by some of the most popular Armenian celebrities.

In addition to the financial support pledged by the participants, the evening also saw many in-kind donations to the Children’s Center, including computers, laundry room machines and kitchen equipment, as well as event tickets, and toys for children.

Along with raising money, the leaders of the Circle of Friends spoke about the need for people in Armenia to support FAR and its programs. Archbishop Khajag Barsamian addressed the gathering via a taped video message to congratulate the initiative and encourage continued support of FAR’s programs by recruiting new members to the Circle of Friends.

"This event breathed new life into the idea of charity in Armenia," said Randy Sapah-Gulian, chairman of the FAR board. "As FAR has continued to be a true partner to the Armenian people, we are pleased to see the people of that nation step forward and embrace a culture of giving, of volunteering, of taking on additional responsibility. The Republic of Armenia is truly blessed with not just a strong, supportive Diaspora, but a citizen who understands the future is in their own hands."

Opened in 1999, FAR’s Children’s Center served initially as a short-term sanctuary for homeless children. Today the Center’s mission has shifted, and it has become a full-service facility for at-risk children and their families. The professionally trained staff of social workers, psychologists, and nurses work to develop family-centered solutions to help children in need and provide them with loving, intact homes. More than 1,400 children from across Armenia and Karabagh have been helped at the Center since its founding.

Since its founding in response to the 1988 earthquake, FAR has served hundreds of thousands of people through more than 220 relief and development programs in Armenia and Karabagh. It has channeled more than $265 million in humanitarian assistance by implementing a wide range of projects including emergency relief, construction, education, medical aid, and economic development.

For more information on FAR or to send donations, contact us at 630 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10016; telephone (212) 889-5150; fax (212) 889-4849; http://www.farusa.org; e-mail press@farusa.org.

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