The 102nd Convention of the Armenian Relief Society Eastern United States of America (ARS-EUSA) was held from July 14 to July 16, 2023, in Richmond, Virginia. Thirty-eight (38) delegates representing twenty-one (21) chapters, the Regional Executive Board, organizational representatives, and observers and guests attended the convention.
The 102nd Convention was called to order on July 14, 2023 with the singing of the Anthems of the Republic of Armenia, the United States of America, and the Armenian Relief Society. Then during its opening ceremony, Chamavonian invited the delegates to observe a moment of silence in honor of ARS members, benefactors, and supporters of the organization who passed away during the year. In her remarks she thanked the chapters for their unwavering dedication and support for the regional and international programs by saying “Your dedication embodies the spirit of an exemplary Armenian woman, a caring mother, and a compassionate sister.”
Later on, Silva Kouyoumdjian, ARS CEB representative and the region’s liaison; Georgi Oshagan, member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Eastern US Central Committee; Aline Baghdassarian, representative of the Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society, and Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Prelate of the Armenian Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Church, made remarks on behalf of their respective organizations thanking their partnership with the ARS EUSA and wishing the organization success. A letter from the Homenetmen Armenian General Athletic Union was also read. Also in attendance was Archpriest Fr. Sarkis Aktavoukian of Soorp Khatch Armenian Apostolic Church of Greater Washington D.C. On behalf of the Virginia “Hooys” Chapter, Leiza Bouroujian and Sona Kerneklian Pomfret welcomed the guests to their state and Murad Kerneklian, a representative of the ARF “Vrej” Chapter of Virginia relayed his congratulatory remarks and thanked the organization for being dedicated to the organization’s motto “With the People, For the People.” Then the delegates participated in a reception hosted by Regional Executive Board.
The Convention was chaired by Ungh. Mimi Parseghian (Lowell “Lousintak” of MA), and Sevan Koledjian (Washington D.C. “Satenig”) and Ungh. Meline Topouzian (Cambridge “Shushi” of MA), and Lisa Kupelian (Detroit “Maro” of IL) served the secretaries of the meeting and diligently kept minutes throughout the weekend. Ungh. Nayiri Balanian (Philadelphia “Artemis” of PA) served as the Armenian secretary.
The Convention guests were Ungh. Angele Manoogian, Ungh. Ani Attar, Ungh. Maral Nakkashian and Ungh. Stella Bandazian. Ungh. Lucine Melikian, a member of the newly established member of the ARS “Sevan” Chapter of Tampa, FL was also invited to the convention as a guest, along with Susie Kanian-Andriole (Cambridge “Shushi”).
On Friday night, Silva Kouyoumdjian, the treasurer and liaison to the Eastern Region, presented the 2022-2023 Report of the Central Executive Board. The report summarized the the emergency relief efforts undertaken and the various programs implemented by ARS in the homeland and around the world.
During the Convention, Floria Kasbarian (New Jersey “Agnouni”), Pearl Teague (Vermont “Noor”), Tamitza Dakesian (Detroit “Tzolig” of IL), Anoush Bargamian (Chicago “Zabelle”), and Nora Hovanesian Mann (Bergen Country “Armenouhi” of NJ) served as members of the Convention’s Nominating Committee.
The Correspondence Committee, responsible for reviewing the files and minutes of the Regional Office, included Ungh. Fimy Ishkhanian (Philadelphia “Ani” of PA), Violet Krikorian (Providence “Arax” of RI), and Ungh. Sirvart Telbelian (“Shakeh” of NJ). The Auditing Committee members were Lena Mekhsian (“Agnouni” of NJ), Danielle Shegerian (“Satenig” of Washington D.C.), and Suzi Kevorkian (Cambridge “Leola Sassouni” of MA). The Resolutions Committee, tasked with gathering decisions and intentions for future projects and plans for both the regional and the 73rd international convention were comprised of Yn. Maggie Kouyoumjian (“Shakeh” Chapter of NJ), Linda Wyatt (Worcester “Knar” of MA), and Talin Teague (“Noor” VT).
On Saturday, July 15, the meeting began with the presentation of the activities of the Eastern United States, where it was announced that more than $430,000 has been allocated by the ARS of Eastern USA to local, regional, and global projects. Delegates expressed their appreciation to the Board and staff for their work during the fiscal year and commended their commitment to the organization’s humanitarian mission. Throughout the day, organizational topics, such as recruitment and expanding membership, program evaluation and expansion, marketing/public relations, and increasing financial resources, were discussed. The Resolutions Committee presented a list of goals to guide the newly elected Regional Executive Board in the upcoming fiscal year and a list of resolutions that Eastern Region delegates will present to the 73rd International Convention, which will be held in October of 2023 in Yerevan, Armenia. The convention also heard a report about the activities of the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF-YOARF) of Eastern Region from Niree Kaprielian, member of the Central Executive.
On Saturday night, a banquet in honor of the 102nd International Convention Delegates was hosted at the Omni International Hotel in Vermont, VA. On behalf of the chapter, Chairperson Ungh Sona Kerneklian welcomed the guests to Virginia and talked about the chapter’s name Hooys (Յոյս) which translates to hope and how it is dear to each members’ heart because “the name encapsulates how the ARS continues to provide hope for Armenia and Armenians around the world through its activities and especially with the youth who are the hope for the continuation of our heritage, culture, traditions, and the Armenian spirit.”
Then, ARS Regional Executive Board Chairperson Ungh. Chamavonian thanked the outgoing executive members Ungh Irma Kassabian and Carol Jaffarian who diligently and wholeheartedly served on the board during the past four years and congratulated the newly elected board members. Also in attendance were Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Prelate of the Eastern Prelacy, ARS CEB member Ungh Silva Takvorian, members of the state of Virginia’s American Red Cross representatives, who work closely with the chapter, and ARS supporters from the state of Virginia.
The Convention concluded with the election of Regional Board members and the approval of the budget. The 2023-2024 Regional Executive Board is comprised of Caroline Chamavonian, Talin Daghlian, Margaret Babikian, Seda Aghamianz, Mary Andonian, Tamitza Dakesian, and Anush Bargamian.