Grassroots Fundraising: One Cup of Coffee at A Time

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Hrag Satjian spent his Memorial Day weekend with members of his AYF chapter, selling Armenian coffee to raise money for the ANCA Endowment Fund. The one-day effort collected nearly a thousand dollars for the upcoming Endowment Fund Telethon and is a testament to the power and potential of grassroots activism.

A member of the Crescenta Valley ‘Zartonk’ chapter of the Armenian Youth Federation, Satjian, 23, worked alongside his fellow chapter members for some ten hours on Sunday May 24, making and selling cup after cup of Armenian coffee at the Little Armenia Independence Day Festival in anticipation of the telethon on May 31.

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From left to right: Aris Hovasapian, Ani Nalbandian, Hrag Satjian.

“All it really takes is a team of dedicated individuals to raise that amount of money in such a short amount of time,” Satjian explained. “It’s hard not to be motivated when you know you have a real opportunity to help strengthen an organization that has consistently proven itself vital to our community.”

For Satjian, the telethon will not only help the Endowment Fund’s mission to develop the Armenian-American community’s institutions and activities, but also provide the necessary funding to protect the interests of Armenian-Americans into the coming years.

Gayaneh Avanessian makes a sale.

Gayaneh Avanessian makes a sale.

“I think this telethon will help our community by ensuring that we will have what it takes to protect our interests and Armenia’s interests in this challenging time our nation faces,” he said.

Ani Nalbandian, another member of the AYF ‘Zartonk’ chapter who sold coffee on Sunday, said she felt as though her efforts at the festival were going to make a difference for the Endowment Fund and its activities. “Being a contributor to the telethon through work and money makes me feel like I have a real role in it and my community,” she stressed. “It’s an extremely good feeling and I hope everyone else can find the time to help out.”

For the price of just one cup of cofee, Serouj Aprahamian helped Zartonk send two more dollars to the ANCA Endowment Fund.

This feeling—that each of them would have a role in something greater than themselves–is what motivated the chapter to pitch in for the fundraising effort, Nalbandian explained. Members worked different shifts throughout the day, some making the coffee and manning the booth, while others roamed the festival with coffee pots and cups in hand.

“Because the profits from our booth were going towards a good cause, it created a concerted effort throughout the AYF “Zartonk” chapter to donate supplies and help with our efforts,” Nalbandian said. “Our customers also appreciated the vallue of what we were doing. Many people happily bought  cup after cup of coffee because they knew the proceeds were going to the ANCA Endowment Fund.

Levon Abrahamian prepares to make his first round of sales in the crowd.
Levon Abrahamian prepares to make his first round of sales.

It would be impossible to have this level of fundraising while working on an individual level, according to Aris Hovasapian, the chapter’s chairperson. “The network of members that we can tap into is extremely valuable because it’s a group of enthusiastic individuals that are ready and willing to put in a great deal of work for a common purpose.”

“Its only natural that the AYF takes up projects such as this,” explained Zartonk alumnus, Vicken Sosikian, who donated the coffee to be sold at the event. “The Armenian Cause, is the people’s cause, so it makes sense that  they took the message of the telethon straight to the festival, encouraging each person there to donate just two dollars to something they believe in.”

“Through this coffee booth, members collectively contributed more than 30 collective hours of their day to generate financial capital to contribute to the telethon. One should never underestimate the potential of the youth to grasp the urgent need to take ownership of our cause,” he added.

This same group of individuals will be working to raise more money for the telethon this Saturday, washing cars at the 76 gas station on 3402 Foothill Blvd in La Crescenta from 10am to 3pm.

To make a financial gift today to support the vital mission of the ANCA Endowment Fund, visit the AYF ‘Zartonk’ Car Wash on Saturday or donate directly to the telethon at: http://www.2009telethon.org/donate.php

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