GLENDALE—Three generations of Armenian Relief Society members participated in the ARS Day Celebration on April 7 at the First Baptist Church of Glendale. The program, which was attended by a full house, also included ARS Saturday School students and the Glendale Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Michael Avedissian, along with Soprano Nune Genjoyan and Tenor Suren Mkrtchyan.
Following the singing of anthems by ARS Saturday School students from several chapters, the welcoming remarks were made by Taleen Hindoyan. She welcomed Rev. Father Vazken Atmajian, the ARS Central Executive Board representative Annie Kechichian, Armenian Revolutionary Federation Wesern US Central Committee representative Dr. Vken Yacoubian, Executive Council Chairperson Rima Boghossian, representatives of church, school and community organizations, guests and ARS members. She also introduced the theme of the program, “Seroonteh Seroont” or Passing on the Torch.
Three-generations of ARSers, who are members of the “Sosse” Chapter of Pasadena, include Taleen Hindoyan. She thanked her grandmother, Nevart Der Ohannessian, and mother, Nova Hindoyan, whose steps she followed into the ARS. Her sister, Nanor Hindoyan, also came along to represent her generation.
Der Ohannessian said that the vast needs of the people following the Armenian Genocide moved her generation to be involved in charitable works. She added that her generation inspired their daughters and the next generations to continue their work in the ARS. Nova Hindoyan, reassured that the ARS continues its legacy in this century devoted to serve the people, to uphold the Armenian language and culture, assist the orphans and protect women’s rights. She added that her generation renews its oath for service and passes on the enthusiasm for service to the next generation. Nanor Hindoyan said that her generation has the obligation to continue the legacy of the ARS members. They are armed with education, leadership training, and technological tools, strive to work efficiently and wholeheartedly stay true to their calling.
An overview of the history of the ARS, since it was founded in New York City in 1910, was presented on video covering the ARS of Western USA and the activities in Armenia, Artsakh and Javakhk. The videos provided the progression of the ARS accomplishments through the Genocide, wars and conflicts, and how certain programs, such as the “Bnag meh geragoor” (a bowl of food), were implemented in different parts of the world at different times to meet needs.
Arousyak Melkonian, a member of the ARS Anahid Chapter, recited the poem, “Ays Kouyrereh” (These Sisters) dedicated to the ARS by Jacques Hagopian, while photographs of ARSers from earlier and recent time appeared on the screen.
Gayane Demirjian of the ARS “Ani” Chapter in Montebello, California, attended the event with her daughter, Nevair Markarian, and grand-daughter, Nairy Demirjian, of the ARS “Nairy” Chapter of Montebello. Markarian said that the ARS activities are based on the foundations set by the past members, to serve all the vulnerable population. She said that with programs such as “One Orphan, One Gold” or “A Bowl of Food”, the earlier generations proved that awareness and belief in the ARS mission are vital to their successful implementation. Nairy Demirjian said that the ARS vision for helping the needy and preservation of the Armenian culture has reached them from generations of ARS-ers, who dedicated their lives for service of others. She added that her generation pledged to continue in their footsteps.
ARS Mayr Chapter Saturday School students Erik Jahuryan, Hakob Kachanyan, and Shoushanik Gabrielyan were led by the latter in recitation of a poem dedicated to the preservation of the Armenian language.
Annie Kechichian, ARS Central Executive Board representative, delivered her message. She said that the ARS approach to band together and work collectively was vital in the response to the catastrophic crisis being faced by Syrian Armenians, and the continuation of the other ARS programs in Armenia and the Diaspora. The Armenian schools in Syria were the recipients of the first wave of assistance. Since then, the dimensions of the critical needs has expanded and ARS participation in community-wide world-wide fundraising efforts is continuing. Hence, extra fundraising efforts are needed. Kechichian also noted the ARS activities at the United Nations for women’s and children’s rights, and how the involvement of the younger generation is important to respond in this fast-paced society. She concluded her remarks congratulating the Western USA region.
The last video segment included a clip of the ARS of Western USA, Regional Executive Chairperson Lena Bozoyan’s remarks during the ARS Gala, which was held on April 5, 2013. Bozoyan upheld the dedication of the members in their volunteer efforts. She noted that His Holiness declared the year 2013 to be the year of the Armenian mothers, the date of the gala coincided with the date that Mother’s Day is celebrated in Armenia and that ARS members, with or without being mothers, exemplify motherhood in their service to the community. The members who have passed away were remembered for the legacy that they left behind.
“We call upon the community and all our members to find new ways of attracting professional youth to join our ranks. Together, we will continue following in our organization’s mission with renewed vigor,” stressed Bozoyan.
Eighteen members of the Glendale Chamber orchestra under the baton of maestro Michael Avedissian, charmed the audience with their music, and as they accompanied Tenor Suren Mkrtchyan and Soprano Nune Genjoyan in solos, and duets of “Erepouni” and “Sartarabad.” ARS Sepan Chapter Saturday School student Mariam Lazarian accompanied them, as a symbol of the continuation of the generations. The audience gave a standing ovation, and the ARS Day concluded with an encore performance of “Sartarabad.” It was a great way to end a 3-day weekend of ARS celebrations.
The Armenian Relief Society of Western USA, established in 1984 and with regional headquarters in Glendale, CA, has 27 chapters and more than 1,500 members in five western states. The ARS-WUSA operates a Social Services Division and Child, Youth, and Family Guidance Center, and funds numerous youth programs, scholarships, and relief efforts. For further information, please visit www.arswestusa.org or call 818.500.1343.