Summer has flown by and a new season is upon us. While some have been vacationing or preparing for school to start, the ANCA Eastern Region (ANCA-ER) has been using the month of August as valuable time to meet with elected officials while U.S. Congress is on recess.
Congress has the entire month off and most Representatives spend at least half of their time meeting with constituents in their district offices. So far, the ANCA-ER and its local ANCs have capitalized on that opportunity.
I accompanied ANC of New Jersey activists Andrew and Madonna Kzirian to a meeting with Rep. Jon Runyan (R-N.J.-3) on Aug. 13. We met the Congressman in his Mount Laurel district office and conveyed the importance of becoming a co-sponsor on House Resolution 227, the Armenian Genocide Truth and Justice Resolution. The Kzirians, long-time New Jersey residents, presented Rep. Runyan with a few pamphlets and books on the genocide and gave a personal touch by talking about their familial ties to 1915 and beyond. The Congressman was receptive and we assured him we’d follow up to see if he had any questions about the resolution.
I also joined Vatche Kaloustian with the ANC of Pennsylvania for a meeting with the office of Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.-7) on Aug. 14. Although the Congressman was out of the country, his office staff welcomed us for a productive meeting to discuss the genocide resolution and other issues, such as Karabagh’s right to self-determination and increasing U.S.-Armenia trade and foreign aid.
These are just a few of the meetings that have been happening this month, and they’re certainly not the only ones. In the Midwest, the newly formed ANC of Missouri has been hard at work getting to know their elected officials, including Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.-2). In New England, the ANC of Rhode Island has already met with their Congressional representatives, and will be meeting with their two Senators soon as part of their annual summer Hai Tahd outreach initiative.
District meetings are where the foundation of many of our friendships with Congressmen begins. You can’t just walk into an office on Capitol Hill and expect to sit down with Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, for example, without doing the groundwork. It takes months—usually, years—of dedication to see these relationships blossom, and in the end both parties truly benefit. Even better is to befriend your elected officials at the start of their political careers. As longtime activist Richard Sarajian remarked recently, “Elected officials never forget the people who helped them with their first election.”
If you’re not involved in your local ANC but the idea of politics or voicing your views to your Congressman appeals to you, let the ANCA-ER help you connect. Reach out to me (firstname.lastname@example.org or 917-428-1918) and I will be sure to get to know you and involve you locally.
As August starts to fade to memory, we turn our sights on a busy fall season. Perhaps the highlight for many of us in the ANCA-ER will be the 7th annual ANCA Eastern Region Banquet on Oct. 12 in Philadelphia. This is a night you do not want to miss.
Keep your eyes peeled as we’ll be announcing the recipients of our ANCA Freedom and Vahan Cardashian Awards soon. And be sure to join us in Philadelphia for the banquet weekend, which kicks off with a Friday night activist social. Saturday night’s formal banquet will allow us all to look back on our successes over the past year and discuss the new opportunities that lie before us. You’ll also have a chance to see the fantastic items available in our stellar silent auction the night of the banquet.
Look for more information in the coming weeks both in this column and in the Weekly in general. If you want to learn more now, visit http://anca.org/erbanquet/ or https://www.facebook.com/events/476059582459788/.
Banquet tickets are currently on sale on the website, and hotel rooms are booking up fast. Make your reservations now and be a part of an elegant night that honors our Hai Tahd heroes and recognizes the accomplishments of the ANCA-ER.
See you in Philly on Oct. 12!