FRESNO, Calif. – The historic ’’Old Administration Building’’ of the Fresno City College was the setting of the Second Annual Banquet of California’s Central Valley Armenian Cultural Conservancy on Saturday, September 23, 2017, as guests gathered to celebrate the past year’s accomplishments while also looking forward to its future potential. Preceding dinner, guests and community leaders enjoyed a lavish mezze table and wine as they shared in fellowship with a spirit of possibilities.
Archpriest Fr. Vartan Kasparian, Badveli Ara Guekguezian, and Badveli Greg Haroutunian graced the event with their presence, and Der Vartan and Badveli Ara offered the invocation and benediction, respectively.
Michael Rettig, a graduate student and Hye Sharzhoom editor at California State University, Fresno, skillfully served as Master of Ceremony, and acknowledged guests, ACC committee members and the keynote speaker. As a student of History, while working on his Master’s Thesis, he conveyed the first-hand experience of curating boxes of family treasures and emphasized “the importance of a place of repository for such items, especially when material is either lost or thrown away in cases where there is not an interested family member. While we may not guarantee that our children and grandchildren will be interested in their heritage, we can ensure that there are institutions in place such as the ACC for those who are motivated and curious to engage with their history.” He invited the community to unite in furthering the Conservancy’s purpose and mission “To collect, preserve and interpret the evidence of the Armenian experience in Central California.”
Co-Chair Charles Barrett presented the ACC’s “Hye Service Award,” a special tribute, to Linda Hamilton for her unwavering dedication to the Conservancy as a founding member, serving as secretary, and for providing an office for the Conservancy. Along with several notables in the community, she has been a constant advocate for the preservation of ethnic heritage – Armenian and other backgrounds – throughout the City of Fresno.
Rettig’s introduction of Lena Maranian Adishian, Founder of The 100 Years, 100 Facts Project, highlighted the trajectory of her on-line initiative that evolved into the two-run print publication of the companion book she co-authored with Nareg Seferian – which recently became a recipient of the International Rubery Book Award: “Impact of An Ancient Nation: Bridging the Past, Present, and Future with 100+ Facts About Armenia and Armenians.”
Our guest speaker related an example of Armenians contributing to the Central Valley and its impact on others for generations. Adishian shared this personal story: “During a chat with a fellow mom at my child’s pre-school in Redondo Beach, she told me that her ‘grandmother and several Japanese families farmed in Reedley among Armenian neighbors who even taught them how to make dolma. When the U.S. Government rounded up Japanese-Americans during World War II, her grandmother’s family had to leave their home and was placed in an internment camp.’ She went on to say that ‘their Armenian neighbors took care of the farm for them until they were able to return two years later’ and added, ‘we will always remember our Armenian family friends with gratitude and appreciation.”
Adishian stated, “Stories like this remind us all of the deep ties, the immense contribution, and the heart that Armenians have given in the Central Valley. It is so important to preserve these types of stories for our future generations, and for there to be a place designated for these stories to live, to be shared, and to be learned.” She commended those present for their support of the Armenian Cultural Conservancy which represents a collective endeavor toward an enduring institution of learning. “The Armenian footprint in the Central Valley has made a deep and positive impact since the 1890s. While the Armenian legacy lives on in us as individuals, it also lives on in our institutions to preserve our cultural heritage. I know the Conservancy will showcase that legacy for posterity.”
Both Rettig and Maranian-Adishian, the grandchildren of genocide survivors, agree that the Conservancy will be a valuable receptacle from which young Armenians, as well as community members at large, can learn more about their identity and also explore the richness that an ancient heritage has to offer in today’s modern world.
The second annual banquet of the Armenian Cultural Conservancy was co-sponsored by the Foreign Language Department of FCC and Heritage Fresno.
The Educational Employees Credit Union and the Daughters of Vartan – Fresno Alidz Chapter were major Corporate Sponsors; and Banquet Sponsors included: Midge & Charles Barrett, Mary & Alain Ekmalian, Edward V. Hagopian & Raffi Dorian, Margaret & Paul Hokokian, Edward M. Kashian, Sue & Mike Kilijian, Lee & Don Leone (In Memory of Brother Vartan Torosian), Arpini Mirigian, Walter Vosganian and the National Raisin Company.
ACC’s ad hoc committee members are: Chuck and Midge Barrett, co-chairs; Linda Hamilton , treasurer; Gary Becker, secretary; Mike Kilijian, banquet chair; Dn. Allan Y. Jendian, program and public relations; Mary Ekmalian, newsletter editor and invitations; Margaret Hokokian, membership and decorations; Helen Moordigian, decorations, Herb Arden, mailing; and Larry Johnson and Dn. Van Der Mugrdechian, website.
The reception committee and mezze contributors were Midge Barrett, Mary Ekmalian, Margaret Hokokian, Rosemary Jendian, Mike Kilijian, Helen Moordigian, Barbara Mortanian and Patty Torosian.
Fresno’s Armenian Cultural Conservancy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, community benefit organization, welcomes your membership. For further information call (559)226-1984 or visit our website: http://armenianculturalconservancy.org/.