GLENDALE—The Armenian Relief Society in the Western US convened its 89th annual regional convention earlier this month where the previous years activities were assessed and a new regional executive body was elected. This year’s convention was held amid heightened anticipation as ARS chapters and regions across the world prepare to celebrate the organization’s centennial in 2010.
The opening ceremonies took place on July 9 at the Brandview Collection in Glendale. The list of guests included Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Rev. Ft. Ardag Demirjian, and Rev. Vaghinag Meloyan, who blessed the conventioneers. The Prelate wondered how a century of service accomplished behind the scenes, with devotion, persistence, and without fanfare could be evaluated.
The ARS of Western U.S.A., Regional Executive Chair, Rima Boghossian reminded everyone that it is the paramount duty of the ARS to selflessly serve the needs of the people. She hoped that the delegates would seriously consider the issues, analyze them and derive conclusions. The ARS Central Executive Chair, Vicky Marashlian, who was accompanied by Nova Hindoyan, Advisor on the Board, stressed the importance of moving the ARS in three fronts: intellectual, financial and organizational.
ARF Western US Central Committee Representative Hovan Tashjian, who was accompanied by Seto Boyadjian, said that the ARS is an organization with a heart, diligence, history and hope, one that carries the spirit of Agnouni, who helped to establish the organization in New York. Upon the insistence of the Fresno leadership, he traveled to Fresno, where he used what became a slogan, “Tebee Yergir” (to the country), for the first time.
Other guests included Republic of Armenia Vice-Consul, Diana Amirkhanian, the Director of the ARS Mother & Child and Birthing Center in Akhourian (Armenia), Dr. Sevag Avakian, in addition to representatives from regional organizations. The number of attendees was around 140.
Following the opening ceremonies, the conventioneers moved to the ARS Regional headquarters in Glendale, where the first session of the convention was called to order by Rima Boghossian and meeting got underway, with the participation of 20 chapters with 45 delegates. There were many delegates there who honored the memories of their mothers and grandmothers, past ARS members, but one delegate, Raffi Shahinian, traveled the farthest, from Salt Lake City (Utah) to do so.
The uniqueness of the ARS is not just the by-laws and organizational culture, but how that consciousness is passed on during conventions. Despite the fact that the convention has a weighty agenda, it is the setting where the ARS culture is passed on from the experienced to the novice. The delegates with a mix of experience took on various roles, and those attending for the first time, not only completed what was expected of them, but also expressed their intent to take on leadership roles within their chapters and region.
Within an environment characterized by limitation of human and financial resources, the delegates had a serious job of weighing the issues, but the seriousness of the issues were not a deterrent for delegates and observers to collective laugh or cry. They continued to uphold the ARS ideals even if they had to remind fellow conventioneers of original intents for programs, or come up with new solutions, they found them within the collective will. They did not necessarily think in unison, but when an observer remarked something to her neighbor, and a much younger delegate expressed the same view instantaneously on the other side of the floor, it was proof on how the convention steered the spirits.
The convention elected chairs were Arous Melkonian and Angela Savoian, for Armenian and English respectively; the Armenian secretaries were Maral Touloumian and Maral Matossian; and the English secretaries were Carmen Libaridian and Rita Hintlian. The assigned parliamentarian was Nyree Derderian.
While the Credentials Committee made its determinations, the chapter representatives made abridged presentations, in effect helping the bridge the information gap between chapters and serve as introductions. As the ARS celebrates its Centennial, the “Mayr” Fresno chapter will celebrate its 95th anniversary.
The convention also elected guests. Vicky Marashlian, chair of the ARS Central Executive (CE), participated in an advisory fashion. The Regional Executives guests were Hovan Tashjian, Hasmig Derderian and Mako Mgrdichian. Mary Arabian, Ani Keshishian and Salpi Hatzbanian participated as guests elected by the convention. The guests provide guidance that is acquired over many years.
Maro Keshishian read the Regional Executive’s annual report; Dr. Ida Karayan presented the report of the Child, Youth & Family Guidance (counseling) center; Jasik Jarahian presented the financial report; Sona Zinzalian presented the annual report of Social Services, and Louisa Guirjian presented the respective financial page. Armen Abrahamian presented the findings of the initial Strategic Planning session. The convention highly commended the exerted efforts.
Vicky Marashlian presented the CE’s report and assured the delegates that the CE is ready to help. The delegates and observers didn’t just support the Regional Executive with their presence and financial support, but also showed how they value serving the less fortunate. The Regional Executive had already supported 25 children from the Artsakh (Karabakh) villages, so they cou
ld spend their summer at a camp in Stepanagert. An additional 37 children were sponsored ($100 each) by those present in support of the CE program.
The meeting sought means to strengthen inter-organizational affairs, to find new ways to raise funds, to find renewed means to help provide services locally and in the homeland, to raise public awareness, especially regarding the Centennial, to approve a budget and elect new Regional Executive members.
Vice-Chair Sossie Poladian presented plaques to the RE members who completed their two1-year terms: Rima Boghossian, Seda Martir, Sirarpi Chakalian, Maida Bedzjian and Serpouhie Messerlian. Those who still had another year to complete were: Sossie Poladian, Asdghig Chitilian, Annie Guiragossian, and Maco Setrakian. The following were elected to the RE post from Southern California: Arous Melkonian, Rita Hintlian and Sona Madarian; from the Fresno area: Vicky Kataroyan; and from the north: Hasmig Kozanian.
Prior to adjourning the meeting, former RE members, the convention officers, the guests and a few delegates had a chance to thank and congratulate those elected. Rima Boghossian handed roses to each of the convention organizing committee members. Supportive remarks were made by Hovan Tashjian, who commented that the ARS members are descendants of the miracle “Mayrig”s in Vasbouragan.
It is not a wonder that the Armenian people continues to expect miracles from the ARS.
KIA Lottery: After the convention adjourned, while the delegates watched, the Kia car raffle drawing was held. Jasik Jarahian, General Accountant/Controller invited Nvart Hovhannessian to pick the winning ticket. The number was: 0453. Congratulations to the winner.
The Convention officers invited the members of the Regional Executive to a meeting.
The Regional Executive board was elected as follows:
Sossie Poladian, Chair
Arous Melkonian, Vice-Chair
Rita Hintlian, Secretary
Maco Setrakian, Treasurer
And Advisers: Asdghig Chitilian, Annie Guiragossian, Vicky Kataroyan, Hasmig Kozanian and Sona Madarian.