GLENDALE–Over 50 young Armenia’s came together from across Southern California Wednesday to give their support to the Armenian Youth Federation’s Youth Corps program, raising funds for its summer camp in Armenia with an evening of bowling at Glendale’s Jewel City Bowl.
The AYF Youth Corps program, established in 1994, is open to all youth over the age of 18 who are motivated and enthusiastic about helping Armenia. The program gives dedicated individuals a unique opportunity to spend approximately six weeks in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, working with people on the ground to make a tangible contribution to the homeland.
Last summer, AYF Youth Corps established a free day camp for underprivileged children in the Gyumri. For one month, program participants served as counselors at Camp Gyumri, providing much needed assistance to many of the city’s struggling families still grappling with economic and social challenges created 20 years after the earthquake destroyed their homes.
Wednesday’s event, organized with the AYF’s Burbank “Varak” chapter, is part of a year-round effort by the AYF Youth Corps committee to work with the organizations 14 regional chapters to further bolster its activities in Gyumri. The committee has undertaken to raise an unprecedented amount for this year’s program.
“One of the goals for Youth Corps is to make the program strong enough, financially, to support its ambitious agenda,” explained Knar Kitabjian, a member of the AYF Youth Corps committee. “Through a variety of fundraisers, such as community breakfasts, bowling nights, car washes, and other community events, we will be able to meet our goal and provide a very vital service to Armenia’s in the Diaspora and the Homeland.”
This past December 7, members of the Orange County “Ashod Yergat” AYF Chapter teamed with AYF Youth Corps committee for the program’s inaugural fund raiser at the Orange County Armenian Center. Held on the 20th anniversary of the 1988 Armenian Earthquake, the fundraiser marked the somber occasion by supporting Youth Corps’ humanitarian operations in Gyumri, one of the city’s hardest hit by the earthquake.
These fundraisers, Kitabjian added, are also meant to support the activities of the AYF’s local chapters. Each unique event is organized with a different chapter, giving them an opportunity to work alongside the Youth Corps committee to raise money for the program and their chapter simultaneously.
“As a chapter, we felt that the proceeds from this event should fully go towards benefiting the Youth Corps program,” said Shahan Boghigian, a member of the Burbank AYF’s executive body.
Last year, the AYF annual convention decided that every chapter of the organization would help organize at least one fundraiser for the program, Boghigian added, noting how the resolution has made it possible for the organization to begin raising the kind of funds required to truly develop the program into what will become one of the AYF’s lasting legacies in Armenia.
Editor’s Note: Patil Aslanian is a member of the San Fernando Valley “Sardarabad” Chapter of the Armenian Youth Federation.