The Armenian General Athletic Union and Scouts–known as Homenetmen–is a non-profit organization that was founded over 85 years ago in Constantinople by Shavarsh Krisian–Hovhannes Hintlian–and Krikor Hagopian.
From the beginning–the aim of this organization has been twofold. First–believing in a "strong mind–strong body" concept–Homenetmen has provided the Armenian youth with a moral–physical and psychological education outside the school environment. Second–it has tried to teach the youth the richness of the Armenian culture and heritage–while at the same time–preparing them to become outstanding law-abiding citizens in the countries in which they live.
During its more than 85 years of existence–Homenetmen has experienced trials and tribulations–as well as maturity and growth. After its establishment in 1918–four more chapters were opened in various sections of Constantinople. The rapid growth of the organization created the need for by-laws–which were immediately chartered.
In 1920–the founding members of Homenetmen were officially invited to the independent Republic of Armenia to share both their knowledge and expertise with interested parties hoping to establish Homenetmen chapters in the free Republic.
After two months of active planning–proposals for this new endeavor had been approved. Unfortunately–the political climate in the region began to change and deteriorate–and establishing Homenetmen chapters in the independent republic of Armenia was no longer feasible.
In 1922–the chapters of Homenetmen in Constantinople were forced to become inactive and the organization’s leaders dispersed throughout the world.
The organization’s development resumed 1924 with the establishment of a chapter in Beirut–Lebanon and in 1925 a chapter in Aleppo–Syria. In the United States–the first Homenetmen Olympic games took place in Brooklyn–New York–in 1922–though the organization was not officially established in America until 1932 with chapters in New York–New Jersey–and Boston. From that point on–Homenetmen began to organize chapters wherever there existed a large concentration of Armenia’s.
Today–Homenetmen is a worldwide organization with over 25,000 members on five continents. These Homenetmen families are governed by a Central Executive Committee–which includes representative members from the major continents. Through the years–Homenetmen has sponsored numerous international athletic events and tournamen’s and has held scouting jamborees in Greece–Canada–France–Bulgaria–Armenia–and the United States.
Its success has been made possible because of generous moral and financial contributions of parents–concerned citizens and many charitable organizations throughout the world–who believe in the organization’s cause and have witnessed its many accomplishmen’s.
Since its establishment in 1918–Homenetmen has played an essential role in helping to shape the character and leadership capabilities of generations of Armenian youth. Through its scouting and athletic programs–Homenetmen has preserved the Armenian spirit and addressed the needs of Armenian communities in the diaspora.
The Homenetmen experience is one of lasting association. The organization promotes a sense of fraternity and humanitarianism–which extends far beyond mere camaraderie and benevolence. Homenetmen’s motto "elevate yourself and others with you" is a poignant reminder of the fundamental objective of striving for individual and collective excellence.