BURBANK—The Armenian National Committee of America-Burbank and its community of supporters will come together on April 26 at Arbat Banquet Hall to recognize several honorees and support the organization’s activities.
Among the honorees at this year’s event will be Burbank Fire Chief Eric Garcia, and Armenian Youth Federation Youth Corps.
Dr. Souzy Ohanian, Elementary Education Director at Rose & Alex Pilibos Armenian School and a lifelong Armenia-American activist, will serve as Mistress of Ceremonies.
Burbank Fire Department’s Chief Eric Garcia to be presented William Saroyan Award for Community Activism
Garcia joined the Burbank Fire Department in 1994 and has served as a Battalion Fire Chief and Assistant Fire Chief. Known as the “Coach,” Garcia has a strong reputation as a team builder and team leader. Burbank Fire Department Chief Garcia holds duel Associate Degrees in Fire Science and Paramedic Studies, a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Leadership, and continues as a Master’s Degree Candidate at Brandman University. Garcia is married, with a daughter and two sons.
BFD has become an Internationally Accredited Agency by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International/Center for Public Safety Excellence and has received a Class 1 Public Protection Classification rating from the Insurance Services Office. These accomplishments demonstrate that BFD meets industry best practices in numerous areas such as fire suppression and community risk reduction.
BFD has automatic aid and mutual aid agreements with all of our surrounding cities. Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena are the three founding cities of the Verdugo Fire Communications Center, which dispatches 13 other area fire departments. The agreements and the regional dispatch system provide a seamless response to even the most challenging emergencies.
The dedicated men and women of BFD are constantly striving to make Burbank a safer place to live, work and visit. I am honored to lead BFD as we maintain our proud tradition of high quality and reliable service.
AYF-Youth Corps to be presented Karekin Njdeh Award for Youth Activism
The AYF Youth Corps program provided a unique opportunity for Armenian youth in the diaspora to establish and strengthen ties with the homeland. The program began in 1994 after a cease-fire agreement was signed, ending the violence in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Between the years of 1994-2007, the AYF sent Youth Corps volunteers to Artsakh to help rebuild many of the war-torn villages in our newly liberated Artsakh.
In 2008, the AYF Youth Corps program shifted from rebuilding shattered building to operating a summer day camp for underprivileged youth in Gyumri, Armenia’s second largest city. The AYF Youth Corps has been empowering young Diasporans to take a hands-on approach in the nation-building process of Armenia. The summer camps continue the program’s long tradition of giving young Armenians from the United States a chance to make a direct impact in the homeland and on the lives of Armenia’s most impoverished children and families.
The AYF Youth Corps program is 6 weeks long, composed of 5 weeks of volunteer work and a week dedicated to touring. During the first week of the program, AYF Youth Corps participants spend time traveling throughout Armenia, visiting historic sites and enjoying the excitement of Yerevan. The following 5 weeks are spent working as counselors at day camps for underprivileged youth in multiple towns across Armenia and Artsakh. The camp program is just as special for its counselors, who plan the curriculum, teach the classes, and spend six months ahead of their trip doing grassroots fundraising in their local communities to raise the money needed to run the day camp and live in Armenia.
As Karekin Njdeh brilliantly stated: “If you wish to know the future of a nation, look to its youth.” The youth of Armenia and Artsakh have their parents that have laid a solid foundation for themselves and now we play the integral role of ensuring they remain on the right path towards progression and development. Armenia is the ship lost at sea, stuck between a rock and a hard place, and the children of Artsakh and Armenia are the lighthouse providing direction and hope to ensure its golden return to prominence.
Dr. Souzy Ohanian was born in Beirut, Lebanon, where she received her pre-school, elementary and middle school education at Nshan Palandjian Djemaran. She came to the United States from war-torn Lebanon with her family in 1986 and continued her high school at Holy Martyrs Ferrahian Armenian School. Her educational/professional background includes a B.A. in Liberal Studies from California State University, Northridge, a Master’s Degree in Education from University of Phoenix, a second Masters in Administration Leadership and Policies from California State University, Northridge, and a Doctoral Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Capella University.
Dr. Ohanian has been an educator for the past 27 years. She was a first grade teacher for twenty years at Vahan & Anoush Chamlian Armenian School and for the past seven years, she is the Elementary Academic Director (TK-5) and Director of Instruction (TK-12) at Rose & Alex Pilibos Armenian School.
Apart from her professional career, Dr. Ohanian has been an active member of our community. As a youth, she was a proud member of both the Armenian Youth Federation and Homenetmen; as an activist, she continues dedicating her time and expertise as a community leader in several organizations. In the past ten years, Dr. Ohanian has worked closely with Burbank ANCA and has been a member of ANCA banquet committee as a co-chair and an advisor.
Dr. Ohanian is a resident of Burbank, California, where she lives with her husband, Raffi Ohanian, and their children, Aram and Shant.
“We feel privileged to honor these exceptional members of our community at our annual banquet and pleased to call them our friends,” said Silva Kechichian, chair of the ANCA Burbank. “The Armenian American community in Burbank knows Mr. Garcia & AYF Youth Corps very well and is familiar with the positive impact they have made. The ANCA-Burbank is thrilled to recognize their efforts on behalf of the community.”
For further information or if you have any question, contact Silva Kechichian at (818) 445-0704 or Arsineh Vartazar at (818) 383-2030. Email [email protected]
The Armenian National Committee of America, Burbank advances the social, economic, cultural, and political rights of the area’s Armenian American community and promotes increased Armenian American civic participation at the grassroots and public policy levels.