After more than 30 years in operation, the Armenian Relief Society of Western USA’s Social Services Division (ARS-SS) remains an integral part of the region’s humanitarian network. Through its offices, ARS-SS offers assistance to low-moderate income individuals and families, who face daily challenges and helps them to become self-sufficient and productive members of society.
Following the Lebanese civil war that started in 1975 and political upheaval in Iran, an influx of Armenians immigrated from the Middle East and Armenia to the United States and to California, in particular. Previously, ARS chapters took care of social services needs within their communities, but they were not equipped to handle the ballooning needs. Given the need to offer direction and guidance to immigrants, in 1979, the Armenian Relief Society established the ARS Social Services office in Glendale.
In order to meet the ever-changing needs of communities, ARS-SS offices soon opened in different cities, and the number of employees and service grants increased. Throughout the years, ARS Social Services has grown to offer the following services, which peaked at 54,000 services per year:
- General Social Services: Information; referrals; interpretation; translations; transportation; outreach and advocacy;
- Case Management;
- Employment services;
- Refugee services;
- Services to the Elderly;
- English as Second Language classes; and
- Food and clothing distribution during the holiday season.
ARS-SS is active within the Armenian, Russian, Arabic and Farsi speaking communities and works with other community-bases social services organizations, local health departments, hospitals, schools, colleges, and law enforcement agencies. Through a coordinated approach, ARS-SS is well-informed of the changing needs of the community, and can develop new and innovative approaches to address community needs.
Financial support is provided through federal, county, and local grants, private foundations and individuals. Although in recent years funding has decreased, the work and activities of ARS Social Services programs continue to increase and its dedicated staff continue to provide services to all those, who seek its assistance.
The ARS-WUSA Social Services headquarters is located at 517 W. Glenoaks Blvd., Glendale, CA 91202. (818) 241-7533; [email protected] Currently, there are also ARS-SS offices in Burbank, Montebello, Hollywood, and Pasadena. The ARS-WUSA web site address follows: www.arswestusa.org.