The Armenian Relief Society Eastern USA held another successful convention on August 14-17, 2014 in Burlington, MA. Over the course of 4 days, 40 delegates from 22 chapters energetically exchanged ideas, opinions and voted on its plan for the upcoming fiscal year. The resolutions that passed stayed true to the humanitarian mission of the Armenian Relief Society. The hosts of the 94th Annual Convention were the Cambridge “Shushi” and Watertown “Leola Sassouni” Chapters. Their warmth, hospitality and attention to detail were greatly appreciated by the delegates at the convention.
ARS Eastern USA outgoing Chairperson, Ungerouhi Ani Attar, delivered her opening remarks and invited Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Vicar General of the Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America, to address the convention and give his blessings. The Bishop thanked the ARS Eastern USA for their hard work and tireless efforts to help those in need. Ungerouhi Angele Manoogian delivered the ARF CC’s message, stating the ARS organization is very important to Armenians, especially now. As a result of the on-going crisis in Syria, the ARS has begun programs like the Hot Meal Program, the Sponsor a Syrian Family Program, and the Warm Home Program without compromising the programs that have already been established. “For over 100 years, the ARS has provided and will continue to provide aid to Armenians throughout the world.” Ungerouhi Angele’s message also included comments about the upcoming 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. She went on to say that the ARS should be active participants during the commemorative activities and that the organization should stand strong alongside its sister organizations.
ARS Central Executive Board (CEB) representative to the ARS of Eastern USA 94thConvention Ungerouhi Pauline Getzoyan, expressed the CEBs gratitude to the ARS Eastern Region for their support. “The ARS Eastern Region is a vital and energetic group of chapters, members, and regional executive board members. This region is of vital importance to the ARS as an international organization and the CEB recognizes that. In fact, on behalf of the Board, I would like to thank the Eastern Region and its chapters for your continuous and generous support of all ARS initiatives. Your support for all programs, and especially for those specifically designed to help our brothers and sisters in war-torn Syria, is greatly appreciated—more than we can express.”
The Convention elected Ungerouhi Talin Daghlian of the New Jersey “Agnouni” Chapter and Ungerouhi Talin Artinian of the Chicago “Zabelle” Chapter to serve as Co-Chairpersons of the convention. Ungerouhi Helena Bardakjian of the Michigan “Zabel” Chapter, Ungerouhi Dalida Chadoyan-Ghoussab of the Richmond “Hooys” Chapter and Ungerouhi Lousin Hovanesian of the Washington “Satenig” Chapter served as the Secretaries transcribing in both English and Armenian.
The ARS Eastern USA Regional Executive invited convention guests were Ungerouhiner Maro Minassian, Mayda Melkonian, and Carol Jaffarian.
The Convention Body invited Ungherouhiner Heather Krafian, Cambridge Shushi Chapter, Nartoohi Abrimian, Leola Sassouni Chapter and Linda Kechejian, Cambridge Shushi Chapter.
The Board prepared a PowerPoint presentation that summarized the Annual Report. The delegates followed along with a written copy of the full report which discussed the activities, major programs, projects and activities including but not limited to scholarships, “Women of 1915” Project, UNICEF, Camp Haiastan, Youth Connect Program, Syrian Armenian Relief Efforts, and multiple fundraising initiatives for projects in Armenia, Artsakh, and Javakhk like the Sosseh Kindergartens, ARS Mother and Child Clinic and the AYF Javakhk Camp.
Reports were provided by the Auditing Committee, Correspondence Committee, and the Resolutions Committee. The delegates delved into the proposed resolutions. Ungerouhi Holly Khaligian of the Racine “Soseh” Chapter, Ungerouhi Arpie Dekirmenjian of the Chicago “Zabelle” Chapter and Ungerouhi Maral Khachadourian of the Providence “Arax” Chapter carefully drafted the resolutions. In all, 11 resolutions were adopted as well as the proposed budget for the 2014-2015 fiscal year.
Ungerouhi Caroline Chamavonian, ARS Central Executive Board Liaison, addressed the convention body and praised the delegates for discussing matters on both the regional and global level. She added that united we will be able to reach new heights.
On behalf of ARS CEB Ungerouhi Chamavonian extended her gratitude to all the members who served tirelessly with devotion and commitment to help the Syrian Armenians, and support the many other programs of the Armenian Relief Society worldwide.
The convention also allowed time for the delegates to get to know one another in a social setting. On Thursday night, our hosts took the delegates into Boston to check out some sites and enjoy dining on local cuisine at Faneuil Hall and a visit to the Armenian Heritage Park on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway where they were met by James Kalustian. Mr. Kalustian said that the park is “Designed to engage children and adults.” The design of the sculpture symbolizes the immigrant experience and is dedicated to the memory of those who lost their lives to the Armenian Genocide and all other genocides that followed. Across the sculpture is the labyrinth. The circular winding path celebrates life’s journey.
On Friday night, the delegates, together with honored guests and supporters, danced the night away at the Convention Dinner Dance held at the Burlington Marriott. During the evening, long-time ARS members were recognized for their dedication to the organization and their local community. These members are Ungerouhi Shakeh Zarougian from the Cambridge “Shushi” Chapter, Ungerouhi Anahis Mekenajian and Ungerouhi Nevart Kouyoumjian from the Watertown “Leola Sassouni” Chapter.
Saturday evening, after a successful day of meeting, the convention delegates and guests were treated to a delicious lule-kebab and pilaf dinner with homemade pastries. They enjoyed a live performance of traditional Armenian Duduk pieces by Martin Haroutunian and his Ensemble in the Courtyard at the ACEC in Watertown.
The close of convention ended on a high note. Outgoing Chairlady Ungerouhi Ani Attar and outgoing Advisor Ungerouhi Valentine Berberian congratulated the 2014-2015 board members Talin Daghlian (“Agnouni”, NJ) and Sonia Bezdikian (New York “Mayr” Chapter), Taline Mkrtschjan (Providence “Arax”, Chapter), Sevan Kolejian (Washington “Satenig” Chapter), Silva Bedian (Chicago “Zabel” Chapter), Margaret Babikian-Medina (Bergen County, NJ Chapter) and Melissa Simonian (Providence “Ani” Chapter).
Both Ungerouhiner Ani and Valentine considered serving on the board an honor. “I have made 1200 friends” Ungerouhi Ani stated. Ungerouhi Valentine said “…with all of these chapters working together many miracles have occurred. Hrashk eghav.” “The ARS is a family and year after year we come together to the convention and do our duty” stated Ungerouhi Angele Manoogian. Board member, Ungerouhi Sevan Kolejian, encouraged the delegates to go home and recruit new members to the ranks. “It is crucial that the youth become familiar with our humanitarian efforts.” The Board thanked Executive Secretary, Ungerouhi Vartouhie Chiloyan, for her ability to manage the Eastern Region USA administrative office. Ungerouhi Vartouhie is known for her quick response to not only the Board but to all of the chapters of the Eastern region.
The ARS Eastern USA Regional Executive Board recognized the outgoing Regional Executive Board members unghs. Ani Attar and Valentine Berberian, who served on the board from 2010-2014, with a memorable gift engraved “Thank you for your continued dedication to ARS”.
2015 will be a year of remembrance and a time to make new memories as we take on these endeavors with vigor. The ARS will remain steadfast in their commitment to Armenians all over the world.
Submitted by ARS 94th Convention assigned reporter Ungh Nairee Hagopian