The ARS “Reubina”
Chapter of Illinois
This ARS chapter is named after the Armenian war heroine Reubena. The chapter’s story begins in 1913, when three women took steps to form an Armenian Relief Society chapter. These founders were Mrs. Mary Asadorian, Mrs. Acabie Avakian and Mrs. Takouhi Depigian. Mrs. Hamaspur Vartan joined the chapter soon after. They held monthly meetings and paid annual dues of 10 cents.
The chapter grew as the community grew. Joining the ARS Reubena Chapter members were Mrs. Aznif Tatosian and Mrs. Nubar Gdoian in 1919; Mrs. Parantzem Haroian and Mrs. Parantzem Hortigian in 1921; Mrs. Zarouhi Bogosian, Mrs. Nevarte S. Hagopian and Mrs. Aznif Malmoolian in 1923; Mrs. Zabel Torosian and Mrs. Nina Takmajian in 1924; and Mrs. Makrouhi Manoogian, Mrs. Vartouhi Mouradian and Mrs. Agavhni Ohanesian in 1925.
In 1932, when General Karekin Nejdeh visited Granite City to initiate a local Armenian Youth Federation chapter, he also inducted new ARS members Mrs. Nevarte K. Hagopian, Mrs. Haiganoush Parsaghian and Mrs. Margaret Manoogian.
Over the years, the Reubena Chapter maintained an Armenian School program and many members participated as teachers. Classes were held at the Armenian Club and students paid a 50-cent monthly tuition. They also actively supported the local ARF Gomideh and responded to the needs of Armenians living throughout the Diaspora with shipments of clothing.
ARS chapters also existed in East St. Louis , IL and St. Louis , MO. As their members relocated, these two chapters disbanded and many of their members joined the Reubena Chapter. When all three chapters existed, they hosted a joint ARS anniversary celebration. At one time, there was a Senior chapter and a Junior chapter. However, over the years, the chapters combined their efforts.
Consistent with the ideals of the ARS, the Reubena chapter has assisted the ARF and AYF, and has made its presence known in the wider community with ethnic dance performances at the International Institute in St. Louis and performance of plays, such as “Anoush.” The chapter was also responsible for securing a mammography machine and other medical equipment and supplies for the ARS Mother and Child Health and Birthing Center in Akhourian , Armenia .
The Reubena Chapter continues to grow, thrive, and work in the spirit that brought its founding members together in 1913 as the ARS embarks on its next century of service.
The ARS “Zabelle”
Chapter of Illinois
The Chicago Zabelle Chapter was founded as the Armenian Red Cross in 1913. The chapter members’ main objective was to assist their fellow Armenians in the homeland, to help settle Armenians immigrating to the United States , and to keep Armenian language, culture, heritage and values alive.
In 1915, during the Armenian Genocide and many years following, the tasks and responsibilities of the chapter grew and members dedicated themselves to helping the ARS send much needed help throughout the Diaspora to care for Genocide survivors.
Between 1920 and 1930, the chapter was instrumental in assisting Genocide survivors who began to arrive in Chicago , providing housing and jobs while helping meet the needs of a growing Chicago community.
In 1948, the Chicago chapter split into a Senior and Junior chapter due to the great number of young members joining the ranks. The Junior chapter was named Anahid and existed until 1969. That year, the Senior and Junior chapters merged and the resulting chapter was renamed Zabelle, in honor of Ungh. Zabelle Seropian.
Over the years, the Zabelle Chapter has played a significant role in the community, helping in the building of the first community center in Glenview , IL , while also playing an instrumental role in the advancement of the Taniel Varoujan Armenian School . The chapter was also at the forefront in relief efforts when Armenia was struck by an earthquake in 1988. In addition to collecting relief supplies to send to Armenia , the chapter also ensured the well-being of four young earthquake survivors who came to Chicago to receive prosthesis, sponsored by Children’s Memorial Hospital .
Today, the Zabelle Chapter is as strong as it was the year it was founded. Its members carry the spirit and dedication of its founding members and are share that spirit with a new generation of ARS members.
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