USC Symposium to Focus on 100 Years of ARS Humanitarian Work

LOS ANGELES–Academics from around the country, along with Fox News Channel correspondent Anita Vogel and Fresno Superior Court Judge Houry Sanderson, will analyze the activities of the Armenian Relief Society, the oldest existing Armenian women’s philanthropic organization, on Saturday, September 18, at a landmark symposium at the University of Southern California.

As part of the Armenian Relief Society’s centennial celebration this year, “Building Blocks for the Future” will review and critique the ARS’ 100 years of humanitarian aid. The symposium will provide excellent opportunities to reflect upon, examine and facilitate the continuous advancement of this service-oriented international organization.

The ARS was founded in 1910 in New York as the Armenian Red Cross, changing its name to the Armenian Relief Society in 1946. Today with 15,000 members residing in 26 countries and consultative status on the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council, the ARS continues its mission of providing social, economic and educational assistance to Armenians throughout the world.

“The dedication and perseverance of its members have propelled this organization that so many of us hold near and dear to our hearts through the past century, and we are looking to build on that stable base as we evolve during the 21st century,” says Arous Melkonian, chairperson of the ARS of Western USA Regional Executive.

The symposium will cover the following topics:

•    History of the ARS:  Khatchig Mouradian, Clark University
•    Cultural Preservation: Ani Moughamian, University of California Los Angeles
•    Philanthropy: Houry Sanderson, Fresno Superior Court
•    Governance: William Bairamian, Columbia University
•    Media and Public Relations: Anita Vogel, Fox News Channel
•    Education: Paul Nargizian, California State University Los Angeles
•    Empowerment of Women: Nyree Derderian, Stanford University

Fox News Channel correspondent Anita Vogel

The ARS’ century of service revolves around some of the most pivotal episodes in world history. After the Genocide of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915, the ARS launched a campaign to care for survivors, countless refugees and orphans. Between the two world wars, the ARS helped build the Armenian communities of the Diaspora, from Australia to Latin America. During the civil war in Lebanon, the ARS opened an emergency room that eventually grew to become a huge clinic that operates today. After the fledgling Armenian republic was ravaged by a devastating earthquake in 1988, the ARS took on the expenses of caring for more than 7,000 orphans, rebuilt entire villages, renovated and winterized public buildings, built a hospital and kindergartens, and more, spending upwards of $30 million over those crucial years.

The ARS, through its various programs, provides financial backing for the operation of medical clinics, social service centers, family counseling centers, schools, summer camps, scholarship programs and day-care centers in Armenia and in Armenian communities around the world. Through the implementation of diverse projects, the ARS enhances its members’ self-educational and development goals by encouraging civic responsibility and volunteerism.

Fresno Superior Court Judge Houry Sanderson

The humanitarian and philanthropic efforts of the ARS are not confined to the Armenian community alone. The ARS Western Region raised $10,000 for Haitian relief. Thousands of dollars also were raised by the ARS after hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Mexico, and numerous other natural disasters. The ARS Social Services Center in Glendale, which serves upwards of 40,000 people a year, offers aid to needy from all countries, with staff that speaks eight languages.

“Building Blocks for the Future” is sponsored by the Armenian Relief Society of Western USA Regional Executive in partnership with the Institute of Armenian Studies at USC. The symposium will be held at the Town and Gown hall at USC, 665 Exposition Blvd., Los Angeles, on Saturday, September 18, from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

Symposium attendance is free to pre-registered attendees, who will be provided with breakfast and lunch. Registration forms are available at and the deadline to pre-register is Monday, September 13, 2010. Due to limited space, early registration is advised.

For further information, e-mail or call 818-500-1343.


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