BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
BEVERLY HILLS—The Armenian Cultural Foundation honored long-time community activists and benefactors Sarkis and Nune Sepetjian with its “Legacy Award” during the organization’s annual gala banquet on Sunday held at the iconic Beverly Hill Hotel and bringing together more than 300 community leaders and supporters for an evening that was dedicated to the Centennial of Armenia’s Independence and the establishment of the first Republic of Armenia. The evening raised $525,000 for ACF’s continued activities.
In presenting the “Legacy Award” to the Sepetjians, ACF’s Chairman Avedik Izmirlian highlighted the couple’s continued generosity and support of various community organizations and their long-time dedication to advancing projects in Armenia.
“It is an honor for us to have people like Sarkis and Nune Sepetjian as part of our family,” said Izmirlian during his presentation of the award, which he did alongside the Gala committee co-chairperson Elo Boyadjian.
“They are exemplary Armenians whose humility and dedication will undoubtedly continue through their children,” added Izmirlian.
The visibly-moved couple took the stage to thank those in attendance and praised the ACF for its continued commitment to advancing the aspirations of a young generation of Armenians through their work in the community, as well as Armenia, Artsakh and Javakhk.
The Sepetjians, who were the sponsors of last year’s ACF Gala, have also generously supported the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region, the Prelacy Schools, and the Prelacy itself, as well as have played an active role in the betterment and advancement of Armenia. The couple was a sponsor of the Asbarez’s 110th anniversary celebration last month.
In his remarks, Izmirlian thanked ACF supporters emphasizing that the construction of community and youth centers in the Western United States and in Armenia, as well as the multiple youth programs and cultural, humanitarian and educational projects would not have been possible without their cooperation and commitment.
Izmirlian also invited Varant and Hoori Melkonian to stage and offered the organization’s gratitude for their decades-long support of not only the ACF but also myriad community organizations, programs and projects. The Melkonians graciously sponsored this year’s ACF gala. Just last month, they were the benefactors of the Asbarez’s 110th anniversary celebration.
“Dear Varant and Hoori, your continued commitment is a unique phenomenon, for which please accept our repeated gratitude as we wish you lasting success,” added Izmirlian.
This year, the ACF decided to acknowledge some its past donors who had passed away. In his presentation Izmirlian honored the memory of past ACF honorees Hacop Baghdassarian, Mr. and Mrs. Hacob and Mina Shirvanian and Varoujan Koundakjian who was a founding member of the organization.
This year’s event was dedicated to the Centennial of Armenia’s Independence and the establishment of the first Republic of Armenia in 1918. Highlighting the legacy of independence, Armenian Revolutionary Federation Western U.S. Central Committee co-chairperson Carmen Ohanian, in her remarks, said that the ARF played a decisive role in that historic reality.
“The lion’s share of the responsibility to confront the challenges [of independence] was taken on by the ARF, which through its dedicated group of activists valiantly realized what was [at that time] difficult to imagine,” said Ohanian.
She also discussed the revolutionary changes that took place in Armenia this year and their impact on the every-day lives of Diasporan Armenians, especially here in the Western Region. Ohanian stressed that the ARF not only supports but also encourages democratic changes in Armenia and will work to advance and ensure that the changes that have occurred in Armenia, first and foremost, serve the interests of the people.
Ohanian also noted the critical role the youth and students play in advancing the ideals of freedom and justice, as well as the strengthening of our homeland. She also pointed out that it was mainly the youth and the student population in Armenia that marshaled the call for regime change and successfully led the popular movement this past spring.
She then commended those present as the event calling a “part of organization’s family,” explaining that as such “we are always ready and willing to hear your comments, ideas and criticisms. The ARF is a party that works in Armenia, Artsakh, Javakhk and throughout the Diaspora, and hence cannot be excluded from making mistakes.”
She thanked the ACF for its continued commitment and dedication to advancing Armenia’s needs and for being allies to the organization that is at the forefront of ensuring a brighter future for Armenia.
The ACF Gala was originally scheduled to take place on May 6 at a time when the historic events in Armenia had become the focal point of every Armenian around the world. Thus, the committee decided to postpone the event and express its support for the popular movement that had enveloped the entire nation.
“Given these realities, and with the hope that there will be a peaceful constitutional outcome in Armenia, the ACF Board of Directors thought that at this time it would be best to postpone the ACF Gala Banquet,” said the ACF in announcement it published on May 2.
The evening’s program began with welcoming remarks delivered by the Chairman of the Armenian Youth Federation Western U.S. Central Executive Dickran Khodanian and the Chairperson of the ARF Shant Student Association Nyrie Dikijian both of whom highlighted the role the ACF has played in their personal and organizational lives and the impetus the organization has provided to the young generation to pursue and fight for the just aspirations of the Armenian Nation.
Following their presentation the National Anthems of the United States and Armenia were performed by Isabelle Karadolian. Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian said the invocation for the evening and congratulated the ACF on its accomplishments.
It was the evening’s Master of Ceremonies, Armen Hovannisian, Esq. who capsulated the vision, ideals and mission of the organization and highlighted the important role in play in youth, community and educational programs in the Western Region, as well as the homeland.
Popular singer Gaby Galoyan delighted the audience with rendition of traditional and patriotic songs, as well as new compilations from her repertoire. Other musical selections were performed throughout the evening by ISM Productions Chamber Orchestra.
Sunday’s event became another successful show of support for the ACF, whose gala is one of the most sought after events of the community.