MONTEBELLO, Calif.—On Saturday, October 29, 2016, 350 members of the Armenian community gathered for “An Evening with Karnig Sarkissian,” a special fundraising event organized by the Armenian Cultural Foundation (ACF) Shirak Region Armenia Projects Committee and the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF), during which $33,000 in funds were raised for the “We Are Gyumri” campaign.
Committee member, Hrache Novruzyan kicked off the event by welcoming guests and highlighting the committee’s joint efforts with the Armenian Youth Federation to rebuild a youth center, left in ruins after the devastating earthquake of 1988, which continues to affect the city of Gyumri and its residents nearly three decades later. “As an alumni of the Orange County ‘Ashod Yergat’ AYF Chapter, I can definitely say that this project we began a few years ago has blossomed into something that we have never imagined,” stated Novruzyan. The “We Are Gyumri” campaign’s renovation of the Gyumri Shirvanian Youth Center was completed under the auspices of the ARF-WR, which continues to oversee the center’s daily operations. “We aspire to continue to rebuild youth centers throughout the Shirak Region, to enhance the lives of the youth, and provide them with opportunities to learn and grow in a safe environment,” stated Arto Keuleyan, Chairperson of the ACF Shirak Region Armenia Projects Committee. In her opening remarks, Novruzyan also noted that the Gyumri Shirvanian Youth Center, which opened its doors to serve the youth of Gyumri in July 2016, also significantly enhances the AYF Youth Corps Program, as it now operates at the center over the course of summer.
The Master of Ceremonies of the evening, Hovig Saliba noted the significance of the Diaspora’s continued support in enriching the lives of the youth in Gyumri, and noted that within a few short months since opening its doors, the Shirvanian Youth Center had achieved this goal by offering free after school programs to residents. Saliba’s encouraging words inspired those in attendance.
The highlight of the evening was marked by the patriotic songs performed by renowned singer, Karnig Sarkissian, whose talent and passion moved audience members. During the evening, attendees were joined, via Skype, by some of the youth in Gyumri who participate in after school programs at the Gyumri Shirvanian Youth Center. The solidarity of the Diaspora and Motherland was magnified by the children’s performance of patriotic songs.
“It was a great evening filled with the spirit of revolutionary songs, and the best part is that it benefitted an amazing cause. The “We Are Gyumri” campaign was started by the AYF a few years ago, now a project of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation- Western Region, and has since seen the building of the new Shirvanian Youth Center in Gyumri, but we can always do more. Through this event, the community came together and showed its support for the continued funding of the Gyumri Youth Center, the AYF Youth Corps program, and the ‘We Are Gyumri’ Scholarship Fund,” said Raffi Senekeremian, AYF member and Shirak Region Armenian Projects Committee member.
The proceeds from the event will benefit the continued operations of the Gyumri Shirvanian Youth Center in Gyumri, which operates year-round and serves the youth through various free programs; the AYF Youth Corps program, which operates at the youth center over the course of summer; and the “We Are Gyumri” campaign’s Scholarship Fund, which provides monetary awards to residents of the Shirak province to pursue their undergraduate education in their native region.