The Armenian Relief Society of Western USA’s Night of Recognition on Sunday, April 10, 2016 served as an opportune time for the ARS Regional Executive to commend members and ARS one-day school teachers, alongside two of its vital programs: ARS Social Services and the Child, Youth, and Family Guidance Center, following the declaration of 2016 being declared as the Year of Service by His Holiness Catholicos Aram I.
Over 400 members and supporters gathered at the Brandview Banquest Hall in Glendale for this memorable event, which included guests such as ARS Central Executive Board members Maral Matossian and Rita Hintlian, as well as the City of Glendale’s newly elected Mayor Paula Devine.
ARS member Sona Madarian, Chairperson of the ARS School Board of Regents, served as the evening’s Master of Ceremonies. The American and Armenian national anthems were performed by singer Ara Sahagian, followed by a collective and heartwarming singing of the ARS anthem by members in attendance.
Thereafter, guests were invited to observe a moment of silence in memory of each and every civilian and soldier, who lost their lives after the recent attacks on Artsakh by Azerbaijan. Madarian’s welcoming remarks conveyed the objective of the event and extended special thanks to all ARS members, who serve their people both in the Diaspora and Homeland. She called on attendees to stand in solidarity with Artsakh and to lend their immediate support. Affirming Artsakh’s sovereignty and its people’s right to self-determination Madarian stated, “We will not secede ‘one inch of land.’”
Chairperson Rebecca Berberian presented remarks on behalf of the Regional Executive. She stated that the evening is dedicated to the women of the ARS, who have devoted many years of their lives serving Armenian communities. She also commended the selfless work of ARS members in Artsakh, who are offering their utmost support to the soldiers on the front lines devoted to protecting our homeland.
Berberian expressed, “In the midst of last week’s breakout of violence, we realize that our members’ response in Artsakh is similar to the bravery and struggle demonstrated over the past 100 years. From our members’ care for the orphans of the Genocide to the victims of the 1988 earthquake in Armenia, and the needs in our local communities, our organization’s unwavering commitment to service has remained genuine and unremitting. It is only through our collaborative efforts and our continuous passion that we are able to serve our evolving communities and respond to new crises and changing circumstances.” Berberian highlighted various ARS programs, including assistance to homeless individuals and families and the ARS Artsakh Support Fund. She emphasized the significance of celebrating the varying decades of service of its members, all of which are recognized as key milestones.
The main portion of the program then commenced, during which ARS members were recognized for their 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50 years of service. The program also included a variety of performances by talented artists.
ARS members with 50 or more years of service received Meritorious Service Awards by the ARS Central Executive presented to them by Board members Rita Hintlian and Maral Matossian. It was heartening to witness the organization’s veteran members make their way to receive their well-deserved honors.
Given the vital services offered to the Armenian community through ARS Social Services, Chairperson Berberian presented a plaque to the Division, headed by Executive Director Sona Zinzalian. ARS Social Services employees with 10 or more years of employment were then presented with certificates for their dedication.
Dr. Ida Karayan, Director of the ARS Guidance Center was recognized for her contribution in improving the mental health of the community through her leadership as Director of the ARS Guidance Center. It is worth mentioning that since the earthquake in 1988, Dr. Karayan has also provided vital mental health care services in Armenia.
Next, ARS members of 40, 30, 20, and 10 years were honored and each received ARS pins symbolizing their membership years. 77 members were honored for 40 years of service, 52 members for 30 years, 61 members for 20 years, and 84 members for 10 years. Pins were awarded by Regional Executive Board members Rebecca Berberian, Maro Papazian, Annie Bostanian, Tamar Orichian, Vicky Kataroyan, Carmen Libaridian, Nanik Kupelian, Aida Babayan, and Satenig Ghazarian.
The Regional Executive also recognized 43 ARS school teachers with 10 or more years of service for their commitment to teaching the Armenian language and culture to the next generation of youth. Special recognition was given to Kevork Bedikian, ARS Crescenta Valley Talin Chapter Saturday Day School Principal and teacher at the ARS Santa Monica Gars Chapter Friday School for his more than 45 years of service.
ARS Regional Headquarters General Manager Jasik Jarahian was recognized by Glendale City Mayor Paula Devine and awarded a certificate for her passion and aspiration to help the betterment of Armenian communities both locally and internationally and in helping advance the mission of the ARS for over 25 years. Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian and State Senator Kevin De Leon sent certificates to the ARS Social Services and the Guidance Center.
During the evening, there were performances by Artur Hakobyan (Mister X), Salpi Mayelian, Andre, the Yerevan A. Dikranyan Musical Children’s School, and Ara Sahagian.
The evening served as a wonderful opportunity for ARS members and the community to gather and acknowledge the instrumental work carried out by the Armenian Relief Society.