GLENDALE—As the annual event that gathers hundreds of Homenetmen members and supporters in celebration of the victories and outstanding efforts that encompass the Navasartian Athletic Games, this year’s Victory Ball was held on Saturday, June 26 at the Glendale Hilton Hotel. The exuberant setting offered an ideal environment in which to celebrate the entire Homenetmen organization and its many successes.
Following an hour long reception offering guests an opportunity to intermingle with one another, the evening’s dinner and official program commenced at 8:00 p.m. with a melodious performance by Lara Gharibian, who sang the American and Armenian national anthems, followed by the Homenetmen anthem. During the invocation, Reverend Father Vasken Atmajian of the Glendale St. Mary’s Church gave his blessings and also conveyed those of Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate of the Western Prelacy.
Raffi Khatchadourian, Homenetmen Western USA Regional Executive Member, offered the welcoming remarks on behalf of the board and, at the same time, expressed great appreciation to all past and present Homenetmen leaders who have so diligently organized the Navasartian Athletic Games year after year. Khatchadourian encouraged guests to continue their support of Homenetmen, which can, in turn, continue its mission of providing moral, social, and physical education for Armenian youth.
Welcoming remarks were followed by the introduction of the evening’s Master of Ceremonies – Harut Sassounian, Publisher of The California Courier and Senior Vice-President of the Lincy Foundation. At the outset of his remarks, Sassounian thanked Homenetmen’s Regional Executive, recalled the founding of the organization in 1918 and the first Navasartian Games in 1976, and went on to recount his own early experiences with the Navasartian Games. He stated, “Since the establishment of the first chapter in 1968, Homenetmen Western US in 2010 proudly has 17 chapters and over 8,000 members.”
Elaborating on the importance of the organization’s purpose, Sassounian affirmed, “Homenetmen’s unique mission is to prepare exemplary and law abiding Armenian-Americans by providing physical and health education, and endowing the mind and soul with the finest spirit of sportsmanship.” Thereafter, he positively encouraged guests to attend and support the Navasartian Games, Festival, and Closing Ceremonies during July 1-4, 2010 at Birmingham High School.
Sassounian also introduced the evening’s numerous guests, which included Reverend Father Vasken Atmajian; Grigor Hovhannisyan, Consul General of Armenia; Dr. Vicken Hovsepian, ARF Bureau Representative; Koko Balian, Vice-Chairperson of Homenetmen’s Central Executive, Chairman of the Homenetmen Western US Regional committee Steve Artinian, representatives of the ARS and Hamazkayin Regional Executive’s, Berj Shahbazian, Chairman of the AGBU Southern California District Committee, Rahla Lindsey, President of the Verdugo Hills Council – Boy Scouts of America; previous Honorary Presidents of the Navasartian Games, Exemplary Homenetmen Members, sponsors and numerous guests.
A video presentation highlighting Homenetmen’s comprehensive programs and astounding achievements of the past few years entertained banquet guests, whose enjoyment was apparent through their great applaud.
Homenetmen Regional Executive Chairperson Steve Artinian delivered the board’s message, thanking all those in attendance for their moral and financial support of an organization, which has been serving the community’s youth for over 40 years. He stated, “Tens of thousands of kids have benefited from the Homenetmen program. Homenetmen teaches. Homenetmen involves. Homenetmen inspires and leads our kids into productive lives while instilling in them a sense of pride in family, community and our rich Armenian heritage and culture.”
Acknowledging the organization’s extensive volunteer base, Artinian continued, “We do all this with an army of unselfish and dedicated volunteers…Volunteers who often put our organization before anything, who give and don’t ask for anything in return.” Next, Artinian gave recognition to the current Regional Executive board, as well as past and present regional committee members, who have been instrumental in advancing the organization.
Artinian concluded by stating, “We have learned from the past. Our commitment is strong. Our purpose is noble. Our model is solid. Let us continue to make Homenetmen the great organization that it already is.” His final remarks gave introduction to Berdj Djamdjian, who was entitled Exemplary Homenetmen Member of 2010.
In a humble speech, Djamdjian thanked the Regional Executive and articulated the great privilege he feels for having such an honor bestowed upon him. His compelling remarks included, “All Homenetmenagan’s strive to help and advance the Armenian youth without any reservations… Our youth are the future, they will become the leaders of tomorrow. We need to nurture them, prepare them, and support them.”
Thereafter, George Jamgochian, Honorary President of the 2010 Navasartian Games, was presented to guests and, thereby, the traditional passing of the tricolor ribbon was held from the 33rd Navasartian Games’ President’s Mr. & Mrs. Vahagn and Baydzar Thomassian to Jamgochian. Communicating his thankfulness, Jamgochian expressed appreciation to Homenetmen and the Regional Executive for entrusting him with the honorary title and commented, “We must all do what we can to support Homenetmen in its mission of serving our youth.”
As the end of the official program drew near, a candle lighting ceremony took place during which 35 candles were lit representing Navasartian’s 35 years in existence. The atmosphere remained joyous and lively well after the conclusion of the program with guests in high spirits looking forward to the culmination of the 35th Annual Navasartian Games with the final tournaments, festival and closing ceremonies on July 1-4, 2010.
Photo Credit: Helena Gregorian