CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Armenian Relief Society of the Eastern United States of America (ARS EUSA) convened its 101st convention on Thursday, August 18, 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Twenty chapters were represented with 39 delegates, as well as the ARS EUSA Regional Executive Board.
ARS Central Executive Board (CEB) liaison Silva Kouyoumdjian and representatives Mayda Melkonian and Taline Mkrtschjan; Armenian Revolutionary Federation Eastern Region (ARF-ER) Central Committee member Ani Tchaghlasian; and Homenetmen Eastern Region representative Raffi Chamoun were also in attendance. Angele Manoogian was a guest of the ARS EUSA Board; Ani Attar and Sonia Bezdikian were invited but unable to attend.
ARS EUSA Board chairperson Caroline Chamavonian welcomed the delegates and guests to North Carolina. The meeting was called to order with the singing of the ARS anthem. A moment of silence was observed in memory ARS members and supporters who recently passed away, including Maro Minassian and Arpi Demerjian Davis, who served tirelessly on the ARS EUSA Board; Vanouhi Isajanian of ARS Canada, who served on the ARS Central Executive Board; and victims of the Surmalu Market explosion in Armenia.
Chamavonian thanked the chapters for their continuous dedication and support of ARS programs in the Eastern US, the homeland and throughout the Diaspora. She thanked the newly-established North Carolina Nayiri Chapter for hosting the convention. Chamavonian emphasized the privilege of having generations of dedicated volunteers and supporters and expressed her appreciation for the unwavering generosity and commitment of ARS members, supporters, partners and friends who have made it possible for the ARS to be successful in fulfilling its mission in Armenia and throughout the diaspora.
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Before leading the invocation, His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Prelate of the Eastern Prelacy, commended the activities and endeavors of the ARS and thanked members for their unwavering service to the Armenian nation and to people.
The meeting proceeded with the election of the following temporary chairpersons, who later became the permanent chairpersons: Maryanne Bonjuklian (English) and Shakeh Basmajian (Armenian). Elected as temporary English secretary was Pearl Bargamian Teague. Elected as permanent English secretaries were Ani Aroyan and Areni Margossian. Elected Armenian secretaries were Nayiri Balanian and Marina Yacoubian.
Delegates elected Yn. Maggie Kouyoumdjian, Edna Galo and Anita Mangasarian Bolz as guests of the convention.
The following appointments were made:
-Parliamentarian: Mayda Melkonian, ARS CEB
-Reporter: Pearl Bargamian Teague
-Sergeant at Arms: Sona Garabettian
-Credentials Committee: Marina Yacoubian, Lusya Shmavonian Schnelli and Mina Hovsepsian
-Nominating Committee: Knarik Kiledjian, Tamar Kassarjian, Yeran Manjikian, Maria Ebrimian and Manoog Kaprielian
On Friday, August 19, 2022, Kouyoumdjian presented the activities of the ARS, which included initiatives in Artsakh, Armenia and Javakhk, humanitarian programs in Syria and Lebanon, as well as other activities throughout the Diaspora.
Elected to the Correspondence Committee were: Maral Kaprielian, Nayiri Manjikian and Sarah Dudek. Elected to serve on the Auditing Committee were Pearl Bargamian Teague, Margaret Babikian and Mina Hovsepian. Elected to the Resolutions Committee were Artvine Nekrourian, Judy Hagopian Edwards and Sossy Sagherian.
In her presentation, Chamavonian highlighted ARS EUSA programs and projects and successful fundraisers in support of ARS EUSA programs, such as:
– Giving Tuesday for Warm Home Program
– Christmas Cheer Campaign for children of Armenia, Artsakh, Javakhk, Syria and Lebanon
– Honorariums to the teachers and staff of the United Armenian Schools (Miyatsyal Varjarans) in Syria and Lebanon
– Christmas gifts to the students of one-day schools in the Eastern Region
– Christmas gifts to the Birds Nest (Trchnots Puyn)
– Share the Love Campaign for the Hot Meal Programs in Syria and Lebanon.
– Easter gifts to the ARS Aleppo Orphanage (Badsbaran)
Board Treasurer Maral Nakashian presented the ARS EUSA Financial Report, which included an overwhelming number of donations from community members, throughout the year, for emergency calls to action.
After the presentations, several delegates offered their appreciation to the ARS EUSA Board and staff for leading the organization and commended them for carrying out projects that made a powerful impact on communities throughout the Diaspora.
Delegates then engaged in discussions, which included recruitment and increasing membership; evaluating and expanding programs; and increasing financial resources to sustain programs. At the end of the convention, the delegates ratified various resolutions based on the discussion sessions on educational, youth, health and social services and organizational topics.
Manoogian, a guest of the Eastern Region Board, shared a visionary and strategic outline for the ARS EUSA to focus on the Diaspora. “Take the time to assess the needs of our established communities and build new [ARS] communities,” she said.
On Saturday, August 20, 2022, the day concluded with the approval of the 2022-2023 budget, as well as the election of the new ARS EUSA Executive Board. Newly elected to serve a two-year term were Caroline Chamavonian, Artemis Chapter, Philadelphia, PA; Seda Aghamianz, Shushi Chapter, Cambridge, MA; Margaret Barbikian, Armenouhi Chapter, New Jersey; along with first and second alternates Artvine Nekrourian from Shushi Chapter, Cambridge, MA; Pearl Bargamian Teague from Lousintak Chapter, Lowell, MA; and Carol Jaffarian, Worcester Knar Chapter. Irma Kassabian, DC Satenig Chapter; Talin Daghlian, New Jersey Agnouni Chapter; and Mary Andonian, Florida Sosseh Chapter will continue the second year of their terms.
The 101st convention banquet was held on Saturday evening. Master of ceremonies Heather Krafian welcomed all the delegates and guests of the North Carolina Armenian community.
In her remarks, Chamavonian shared that as challenges arise, the humanitarian mission of the organization is strengthened and that the ARS continues to assist the most vulnerable in our communities and around the world. Chamavonian thanked outgoing ARS EUSA Executive Board members: Krafian of the Shushi Chapter, Cambridge, MA and Nakashian of the Satenig Chapter, DC for their dedication and commitment to the organization. She presented them with scarves made in Artsakh. Chamavonian also presented each member of the ARS North Carolina Nayiri Chapter with ARS pins and officially welcomed them to the organization.
Before he gave his blessings, Deacon Serop Krajeklian of St. Sarkis Armenian Church of Charlotte, NC thanked the ARS for the invitation and praised the work of the ARS. As a token of appreciation, the Regional Executive Board presented the deacon with an ARS signature plate.
On behalf of the ARF-ER, Tchaghlasian congratulated the ARS and praised its service to the nation during its hardship. In his comments on behalf of the Homenetmen Eastern Region, Chamoun referenced the meaning of the ARS emblem, which represents every member’s belief in the organization’s mission. He thanked the ARS for its ongoing service.