The Armenian Relief Society of Western USA (ARS), Social Services division serves the needs of low-income community members. ARS clients have been new immigrants, refugees and the elderly, who have difficulties in accessing services due to language barriers and hardships in adjusting to their new lives.
The offices help individuals and families by providing them case management services, and helping them become self-sufficient and productive members of society. Services, which are provided, include in person or by phone interpretation, counseling and translation of information or referral forms such as:
General inquiry or relief, immigration-green card lost/renewal or naturalization, employment authorization/placement, low income housing application (Section 8) or Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), Healthy Families and health care, including Medi-Cal determination, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI), access taxi or bus transportation tokens, access telephone, and jury duty forms. The bus tokens from the International Institute of Los Angeles are distributed monthly to low income elderly and the disabled.
The ARS Social Services staff provide services based on the requirements of various grants, such as the Los Angeles County Refugee Employment Program (REP), Community Services Block Grant (CSBG), and Aging Grant (AAA), Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) through the cities of Burbank, Glendale, Montebello and Pasadena, and a City of Los Angeles grant.
Uncertainty of the future of the ARS Social Services office in Hollywood became a concern, after the grant funding was exhausted by July 1, 2013. Due to limited private donations, the office continues to operate with volunteer efforts. A fundraising event took place on November 10, 2013 at the Hollywood Armenian Center. In attendance were key elected officials, including Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Krekorian (2nd district), who both spoke in support of the ARS Hollywood Social Services office because of their positive experiences with the ARS.
During Thanksgiving week, fifteen turkeys were provided by the City of Pasadena Mayor’s office (donated by Ralphs/Food 4 Less stores) and ten turkeys were donated by Congresswoman Judy Chu (32nd District), which were distributed to needy families in Pasadena. California Senator Kevin De Leon’s office (22nd District) donated eight food coupons ($25 each), which were distributed to needy families in Hollywood for Thanksgiving.
Boxes of canned food were donated by Chamlian Armenian School during the Thanksgiving holiday, which we distributed to needy families in Glendale. In addition, Chamlian Parent Support Committee Members donated complete Thanksgiving family meals to four needy clients.
Sean and Nadia Shamsi’s family sponsored a Thanksgiving party for young children on November 26, 2013, at the ARS Regional Headquarters in Glendale. More than 200 children were entertained by the Hoy Lari singing group and received music CDs, along with frozen turkeys. ARS Regional Executive Chairperson Lena Bozoyan made welcoming remarks, and President Bako Sahakyan of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR), accompanied by the Honorable Republic of Armenia’s Consul General to Los Angeles Sergei Sarkisov, spoke to the children about Armenia-Artsakh.
The ARS Social Services provided arranged for needy children to receive gifts at the ARS on December 28, 2013, in Glendale. Christmas gifts have been received from Holy Martyrs Ferrahian High School, Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School, and Los Angeles City Council Member Mitch O’Farrell’s office (District 13).
The Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard’s Christmas party was held on December 7, 2013, and the Treasure Little Children distributed gifts to the ARS Sosse Chapter Saturday School on December 14, 2013, in Pasadena. They were coordinated by the ARS Social Services.
Social service was always part of the ARS objectives, implemented through volunteers. Since 1979, the ARS has served the community in Southern California through various offices. Since 2000, the ARS Child, Youth & Family Guidance Center assists low-income clients, who need psychological services for acculturation, enculturation, marital and personal issues.
With governmental funding cutbacks, it is up to the ARS membership and supporters to fill in the gaps left by funding limitations. To donate funds for those in need, please send your contributions to ARS Social Services, 517 W. Glenoaks Blvd., Glendale, CA 91202-2812. Contributions can be made on-line by as well at the ARS website, arswestusa.org, where more information is available.