WHITE PLAINS, NY–When members of the Armenian Church Youth Organization of America Jrs. chapter at the St. Gregory the Enlightener Church of White Plains, NY, began planning their recent car wash fundraiser, they weren’t quite sure where the money should end up.
The chapter’s advisor, Nectar Munro, decided to ask the parish priest, Fr. Krikor Kasparian, his opinion on what the 17 young ACYOA Jrs. members should support with their donation.
"Nectar discussed it with me and said that it would be wonderful if this money was sent somewhere worthwhile," Fr. Kasparian said. "I told her that there are homeless children in Yerevan and there is a project FAR [the Fund for Armenian Relief] sponsors to help them, so why not send the money to them. We thought that would be wonderful."
The group raised about $300 through the carwash, and sent it all to FAR for its Yerevan Homeless Children’s Center, which works proactively to keep at-risk children in in-tact, loving, functional homes and out of institutionalized care.
"Our kids in ACYOA Jrs. are guided by a principal of serving, of making the organization worthwhile by five activities," Fr. Kasparian said. "They have sports, social events, spiritual activities, service, and educational experiences. They thought this donation was in keeping with the goals of the local chapter to serve."
Fr. Kasparian said while the money raised could have gone to other less-pressing needs in the parish community, he was glad the ACYOA Jrs. members decided to help others in Armenia.
"For them to know that instead of appropriating the money for anything else here, where we may have less need, but rather to send it to Armenia where the need is greater, that makes me proud," he said.
And the ACYOA Jrs. are not the only group at St. Gregory the Enlightener making Fr. Kasparian proud. This past Mother’s Day, the seventh and eighth grade Sunday School class, taught by Edward Dorian Jr., sold breakfast to the community and sold plants. They raised about $450, and again decided to send the money to the homeless youth of Armenia through FAR.
"The children thought it would be wonderful to send to children around their age, preferably the homeless children in Armenia," Fr. Kasparian said. "They learn in Sunday School the importance of serving and outreach and extending themselves to people who are needier than they are. This donation is their education put into action."
Fr. Kasparian noted that the donations reflect the teachings of the church to serve others.
"It makes me feel great," Fr. Kasparian said of the two donations. "What they’re learning in Sunday School and as members of ACYOA Jrs. is not just theoretical knowledge. It can be translated into action. However humble and small this might be, it is the fruits of their labor and the love share with people in Armenia."
"They also do this because, in a sense, they realize it is setting an example to other children," he added. "So they are witnessing to their faith in a very tangible way. I think that’s a mature attitude."
While the children of White Plains were busy washing cars and selling flowers, they were not the only young people helping their peers in Armenia.
Julia Masotti, a junior at Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale, NY, on Long Island, is half Armenian. She recently started an organization called Kids Helping Kids, which aimed to turn youthful volunteer activities into action to make life easier for children. Her group raised $400 by selling used books, and they decided to donate the money to FAR to buy school supplies for children in Armenia.
"I hope I can make a difference in the life of children," she said.
By providing hope and opportunity to the next generation of Armenia’s, FAR aims to empower them to build Armenia’s future. FAR’s programs for youth include its Homeless Children’s Center and the development of an modern foster care system for Armenia.
FAR also works with the Women’s Guild of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), by handling the logistics of its Children of Armenia Sponsorship Program (CASP), through which donors around the globe provide structured, direct financial support to orphans in Armenia.
Other FAR programs that directly aid children include the renovation and operation of several schools throughout the nation, college scholarships, choirs, arts training programs, summer camps, and the Gyumri IT Center which is training the next generation of computer specialists in the northern, earthquake devastated region.