BEVERLY HILLS—Homenetmen Western Region’s 43rd Navasartian Games Victory Banquet was held on Sunday, July 1, at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California. The event served as a prime occasion to celebrate the organization’s vast work and activities.
Honorary Presidents of the 43rd Navasartian Games, Mr. and Mrs. Hamlet and Greta Chraghchian, as well as this year’s Exemplary Homenetmen Member Koko Balian, praised the organization’s work in their speeches and paid special mention to the dedicated volunteers carrying Homenetmen’s mission forward.
Guests in attendance included His Eminence Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Consul Armela Shakarian, elected officials, Homenetmen Central Executive member Vicken Tavitian, Regional Executive Members, benefactors, members, and supporters.
The event’s official program began with a flag ceremony by Homenetmen scouts, followed by the singing of anthems by Ivana Krikorian.
During the invocation, Archbishop Mardirossian commended the work of the 100-year-old organization and its volunteers and blessed the tables.
Master of Ceremonies Charlie Ghailian delivered welcoming remarks and recognized the official guests in attendance, including Honorary Presidents and Exemplary Homenetmen Members from years past. He paid special mention to the fact that the event allows the opportunity to not only pay respect to the current Honorary President and Exemplary Homenetmen Member, but also the organization’s countless volunteers — be they executive members or members of various committees. Ghailian informed that the Victory Banquet’s sponsors are well-known community members and benefactors Mr. and Mrs. Varant and Hoori Melkonian.
Following the viewing of a short video depicting the 100-year history of the organization, Regional Executive Chairperson Manuel Marselian addressed guests. He explained that — 50 years ago in Los Angeles — a group of individuals had the vision of integrating Homenetmen into the fabric of society, the result of which became the region’s current 19 chapters and 6,500 members.
Marselian noted that this year marks Homenetmen’s centennial and stated, “In remembering the past, we appreciate the fact that, in order to survive, it is imperative that the organization continues to grow.” He explained that, for the first time this year, 20 children with special needs are participating in the 2018 Navasartian Games under the organization’s new program, “Hrashq.”
Thereafter, Chairperson Marselian introduced the 43rd Navasartian Games’ Honorary Presidents Mr. and Mrs. Hamlet and Greta Chraghchian and Exemplary Homenetmen Member Koko Balian.
Mr. Chraghchian began his involvement in the organization with the “Ararat” association in Tehran, Iran 60 years ago and continues his active participation until this day. He has been a member of the Ararat Chapter, served as the chapter’s chairperson, as well as a Regional Executive member, Central Executive member, and delegate of numerous representatives’ meetings and conventions. His life has been closely linked to the organization’s ideology.
“Understanding and believing in the ideals of Homenetmen, the Chraghchian couple has served this organization with conviction for years,” Marselian said.
Next, Marselian introduced Koko Balian, who has been a faithful volunteer of Homenetmen since his early scouting years.
“Koko Balian has dedicated his entire life to Homenetmen and its principles. His dedication started at the age of 10 as a scout in Lebanon and has reached the United States — first in Boston and then Los Angeles. For years, he has been a member of the Regional Executive, both as a board member and Chairperson. Further, he has served for three terms as a member of the Central Executive,” Marselian said.
In concluding his remarks, Marselian expressed sincere appreciation to Mr. and Mrs. Varant and Hoori Melkonian for sponsoring the event.
Prior to dinner, guests watched a video depicting the organization’s programs activities in the western region.
The event’s official program continued with a video clip portraying photos of Exemplary Homenetmen Member Koko Balian’s service to the organization. Balian was then invited to the podium and expressed his appreciation for being bestowed with the honor.
“It is Homenetmen that has kept generations, including myself, on the right path and brought us up with our Armenian national identity,” Balian said. “Homenetmen has also served as a social environment where Armenian youth have formed a family. I, myself, met my life partner, Armine, through Homenetmen. Alongside the home and school, Homenetmen has given me so much and I consider it my duty to give back to the organization all that I can.”
“The supporters of Homenetmen are worthy of so much respect and honor, especially those who work and volunteer with no expectations in return,” Balian concluded.
In paying tribute to his honor, Marselian presented Balian with a symbolic plaque.
Guests then viewed a video clip depicting Hamlet Chraghchian’s work and service in the organization, after which Honorary Presidents Mr. and Mrs. Hamlet and Great Chraghchian were invited to the podium.
In his remarks, Mr. Chraghchian praised the organization and mentioned Homenetmen’s major role in the national and physical education of Armenian youth following the Genocide. He mentioned the importance of remembering dedicated Homenetmen members from the past and paying respect to the will and belief they demonstrated to the organization. Chraghchian called upon members to continue to actively and enthusiastically serve the organization, which is the most successful in preserving the Armenian identity.
He further expressed thanks for the succession planning taking place in the organization in preparing future generations and passing on experience to new members. He explained that it gives him great joy to see his three children, Patrick, Pierre, and Milene, along with his grandchildren, serving Homenetmen.
“Seeing them and other youth like them relieves my concerns and assures me that the organization will continue to remain glorious in the next 100 years,” Chraghchian said.
The previous year’s Honorary Presidents Mr. and Mrs. Vicken and Nono Apelian were then invited to the stage, and the Honorary President’s tricolor ribbon was passed on to the Chraghchians.
The program concluded with a cake (donated by Sarkis Pastry) cutting ceremony to mark Homenetmen’s centennial anniversary. Honorary Presidents and Exemplary Homenetmen Member from prior years were invited to participate, alongside Central Executive member Vicken Tavitian.
Guests enjoyed the rest of their evening with entertainment by Allen G. and band.