Valentine’s Day Fundraiser Gives Heartfelt Boost to AYF’s Youth Corps Program

A young girl at Camp Gyumri shows her affection and appreciation to a Youth Corps participant.

SANTA ANA—Orange County Armenians opened their hearts and wallets this Valentines Day by sending their love and donations to children in the Homeland. The February 14 breakfast fundraiser was hosted by the AYF Ashod Yergat chapter and treated donors to a wonderful early meal on this international day of love.

The event was titled “I Heart Gyumri,” and its goal was to strengthen the AYF Youth Corps annual mission to organize a summer day camp for underprivileged kids and teens in Gyumri.

“This wasn’t just any fundraiser,” said Nora Injeyan, chairperson of the AYF chapter in Orange County. “This Valentine’s Day breakfast was our way to show how much we love Armenia and how much we support the Youth Corps program.”

The breakfast featured an all-you-can-eat buffet of foul (beans), mamounia (creme of wheat) and a traditional assortment of cheese and vegetables. Attendees also enjoyed a slideshow chronicling the program’s activities over the years and heard how Youth Corps also helps AYF members experience Armenia for the first time.

Those attending also received free copies of the AYF’s quarterly Haytoug Magazine, which features an article spotlighting Youth Corps’ 2009 program.

Sose Thomassian, the Youth Corps Program chairwoman, believes raising funds for a specific mission is often more rewarding and engaging for the community. “What’s the point of a fundraiser if there isn’t something bigger behind it,” she said. “Events like these are so vital to the program as we intend to expand it and look for ways into establishing other camp sites around Armenia.”

The Youth Corps program began in 1994 after the signing of the cease-fire between Armenia and Azerbaijan that ended the violence in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

From its inception, it has been empowering young Diasporans to take on a more direct role in the nation-building process in Armenia. In the past Youth Corps would send Armenian-American youth to Nagorno-Karabakh to help rebuild many of the newly independent republic’s war-torn villages. 

In 2008, Youth Corp changed its focus from rebuilding shattered buildings to connecting Armenians in the Diaspora with Armenians in the Homeland by launching 5-week-long summer day camps for the children of Gyumri. Last summer, more than 150 young campers took advantage of Camp Gyumri.

More information about the AYF Youth Corps program is available by calling (818)507-1933 or e-mailing youthcorps@ayfwest.com. The current issue of Haytoug Magazine featuring the Camp Gyumri story is available online at Haytoug.org.

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