BURBANK—Rep. Adam Schiff and a host of state and local legislators and their staff joined more than 300 Armenian American community members from throughout Burbank and the surrounding areas to celebrate the ANCA Burbank’s 10th Annual Banquet, its successes and recommitment to expanding the role of the local ANCA in all aspects of civic and community life as well as to honor the Fire Chief Eric Garcia, Kevork Sarkissian, AYF Youth Corps, and Zareh Khachatourian.
The April 26, 2019 gala reception, held at the Arbat Hall, attracted veteran community leaders and recent ANCA Burbank activists alike. Throughout the evening, speakers and participants hailed the achievements of the local ANCA to broaden Armenian American participation in Burbank’s civic life along with campaigns on the local, state, and federal levels to advance the views and values of the Armenian Nation.
There was no shortage of local legislators and candidates joining in the gala celebration in support of ANCA Burbank efforts, including Burbank Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy, Vice-Mayor Sharon Springer, Burbank City Councilmember Bob Frutos, Burbank City Clerk Zizette Mullins, Burbank City Treasurer Debbie Kukta, Glendale Mayor Ara Najarian, who were joined by a number of School Board members, including Burbank Unified School District (BUSD) President Roberta Reynolds, BUSD Vice-President Dr. Armond Aghakhanian, and Glendale School Board member Nairi Nahabedian. Burbank Policy Chief Scott LaChasse and Captains Denis Cremins, Armen Dermenian, Eric Deroian, and Josephine Wilson were in attendance. Burbank city representatives were also on hand along with State Senator Anthony Portantino and State Assemblymember Laura Friedman and Supervisor Kathryn Barger of the County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors. ANCA Western Region Chairperson Nora Hovsepian, board members, staff, as well as neighboring ANCA Glendale and La Crescenta local chapters’ chairs, and representatives from a host of Armenian American organizations, including the ACF, ARS, and AYF were also on hand for the celebration.
The event was officially opened with the posting of the colors by the Homenetmen “Sipan” chapter scouts, followed by the American and Armenian national anthems sung by Alene Aroustamian. The invocation and blessing was delivered by Archbishop Hovnan Derderian of the Western Diocese, along with Father Rev. Khajag Shahbazyan and Father Rev Gomidas Torosian. Later, Father Torosian read special remarks by Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate of the Western Prelacy, who in his remarks mentioned the importance of the ANCA’s role in the nation and around the world.
The evening’s Mistress of Ceremonies, Dr. Souzy Ohanian concurred, noting “I’ve been a member of the ANCA Burbank for several years, and there is never a shortage of work. It seems as if the second you’re done with one project, it’s on to the next. The project is done and the cycle continues. But this is the beautiful thing about the entire ANCA organization. We don’t run out of ideas.”
“One of the valuable things about our community is that is enables us to support each other, share experience and resources, foster bonding among the people, and most importantly provides security and reveals dedication. Our community, the Burbank community, is part of our everyday life and it has positive effects on all of us. The community gives us inspiration to pursue our goals collectively make our voices heard and stand up for the Armenian Cause,” Dr. Ohanian said.
ANCA Burbank Chairperson Silva Kechichian spoke about the work the organization has done in Burbank and thanked attendees for their “wholehearted and unwavering support for the ANCA,” observing that it is a “testament the powerful and unifying mission and message of our organization.” She added, “When necessary, we comfort when a hate crime has been committed and, in cases of discrimination toward our school aged children, we intervene to ensure there is understanding, tolerance and acceptance by all sides. A true grassroots organization, indeed. But the ANCA is beyond an Armenian organization. The ANCA recognizes that we all live in a community…a community that’s not only made up of Armenians but by different ethnicities and races, of all colors and diverse backgrounds. The ANCA recognizes that it is that diversity that makes Burbank the ideal choice for planting family seeds. a message of community pride, community power and of community progress – relayed by the most vibrant and effective spokespeople of the Armenian Cause – you. Each and every one of you.”
Congressman Adam Schiff, ANCA’s Tereza Yerimyan as well as Burbank Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy Offer Perspectives on Politics and Community Activism
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), a favorite with the local Armenian American community for his leadership of efforts to secure Congressional affirmation of the Armenian Genocide and promote high level of U.S. aid to Armenia and Artsakh, was eloquent in his remarks detailing Congressional efforts to address these important issues. Rep. Schiff spoke of the important and effective role groups like the ANCA play in Burbank’s civic life. “Through your grassroots activism, we have made great progress on issues, and we have a lot more work to do. But without an incredible ANCA staff in Washington, and incredible ANCA organizations throughout the Western Region and around the country, all we have accomplished would have been impossible,” explained Rep. Schiff.
Burbank Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy stated, “ANCA Burbank is known for dancing Social, Economic, Cultural & Political rights for our areas Armenian American community and for increasing the participation of the Armenian American community in our civic activity.” The Mayor thanked the members for stepping up, being a part of the city, serving the community and advocating for the Armenian cause. “We appreciate all the effort provided by the ANCA to build a strong community and to work alongside our City Council,” she expressed.
The Mayor continued stating, “On October 28, 2014, the Burbank City Council, in collaboration with ANCA Burbank, declared the City of Hadrut a Friendship City. We know how important Artsakh is to the Armenians, We share that joy and that determination to make it part of Armenia again as it is rightfully should be,” the Mayor said.
The evening’s keynote speaker was Tereza Yerimyan, the ANCA Capital Gateway Program Director, ANCA Western Region’s former Government Affairs Director, who also served as the President of the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council, where she was Little Armenia’s direct representative to the Los Angeles City Council. Tereza Yerimyan, who had traveled from Washington, DC to join the gala celebration, touched on the importance of the youth and encouraged everyone to be part of youth organizations and involvement in the ANCA. Ms. Yerimyan discussed the vital role of ANCA Endowment supported efforts, including the Capital Gateway Program and the Leo Sarkisian Internship Program, which assist university students and recent graduates in their exploration of careers in public policy, as well as the Hyevotes regional initiative to increase Armenian American participation in the electoral process.
Fire Chief Eric Garcia, Kevork Sarkissian, the AYF Youth Corps, and Zareh Khachatourian Honored in Recognition of Their Work and Accomplishments
ANCA Burbank continued its tradition of honoring local leaders in government, business, grassroots activism, and youth issues with Burbank City Fire Chief Eric Garcia, local educator Kevork Sarkissian, ANCA Burbank member Zareh Khachatourian, and AYF Youth Corps presented with the top honors for 2019, in recognition of their years of selfless service to the Burbank community in each of their categories.
Burbank Fire Chief Eric Garcia received the “William Saroyan” Award honoring the dedicated men and women of the Burbank Fire Department, who are constantly striving to make Burbank a safer place to live, work, and visit.
ANCA Burbank member Zareh Khachatourian received the “Vahan Cardashian” Award – for his consistent and dedicated leadership within both the Armenian American community and Burbank civic life and leadership in service to the families and youth of the Burbank community.
Local AYF Youth Corps members received the “Karekin Njdeh” award celebrating 25 years of dedicated service, empowering Armenian American youth to make a direct impact on the lives of children and families in the Republics of Armenia and Artsakh and creating a stronger bond between the Homeland and the Diaspora.
Local education Kevork Sarkissian received the “Moushegh Ishkhan” Award for his decades of dedicated service at Rose & Alex Pilibos Armenian School, where he has inspired thousands of students to embrace the Armenian language and culture and encouraged a lifetime of service to our community and cause.
Steadfastly Serving the Burbank Community
A consistent theme throughout the gala banquet was the critical role of grassroots participation in the success of the local ANCA. This was particularly true in the ANCA Burbank video, prepared by Onig Ghilezian, which spotlighted the diverse programs undertaken by the local chapter.
Banquet Chairwoman Liliane Arejian reflected on the extensive support and respect the local ANCA receives from community leaders and activists alike. “The Burbank ANCA Chapter has experienced a period of remarkable growth over the past few years. This growth can be attributed to the ANCA’s role as an effective grassroots organization serving the city’s Armenian-American community. The Burbank ANCA Chapter strives to bring the people of its city together to work towards the common goal of making Burbank a better place to live and work.”
ANCA Burbank’s 10th Annual Banquet was unique this year, celebrating achievements and holding a candle lighting ceremony. The banquet committee had selected 10 dedicated Burbank community individuals, who were always next to ANCA Burbank and supported the advancement of the Armenian issues on local, state, and federal levels. Special thanks to the candle lighters of the ANCA Burbank 10th Annual Banquet: Mardig and Nora Bouldoukian, the City of Burbank, Avo and Susan Donoyan, Berj and Mary Karapetian, Ara and Garo Kurkjian – Lebanese Arak Company, Harout and Vicky Marashlian, Timmy and Seda Mardirossian, Varant and Hoori Melkonian, Heros and Sofie Nazarian, Ara and Aline Tchaghlassian.
The ANCA Burbank placed special focus on the talent of local youth with the opening of the festivities by the Homenetmen “Sipan” chapter scouts. During the course of the evening students from Lilia’s Dance Studio performed a series of beautiful Armenian traditional dances.
Following the presentations and awards ceremony, singing sensation Alene Aroustamian and DJ Leo entertained the audience with American standards and Armenian dance and patriotic songs. The ANCA Burbank thanks all the banquet attendees and looks forward to seeing everyone again at the next year’s banquet.
The Armenian National Committee of America, Burbank (ANCA 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.