A Very ARS Thanksgiving

The women of the Armenian Relief Society (ARS) Leola Sassouni Chapter yet again served one of the largest traditional Thanksgiving feasts in Watertown, Massachusetts. This chapter has been hosting Thanksgiving for the local Armenian community for over 40 years.

Reverend Archpriest Antranig Baljian of St. Stephen’s Armenian Apostolic Church, Yeretzgin Cheryl Baljian and ARS Executive Board member Heather Krafian joined about 250 guests in this time-honored tradition the weekend before Thanksgiving.

This year, some new faces to the organization delivered the opening remarks. “I’ve been a member of the ARS Leola Sassouni chapter now for 13 whole days,” said Lara Bastajian-Kechichian during her introduction. Bastajian-Kechichian and Narineh Abrimian were inducted earlier this month along with a dozen other women, most of whom were students of Chairlady Mayda Melkonian at Armenian Sisters’ Academy. “That’s when our dear Deegeen Mayda became Ungerouhi Mayda,” said Abrimian in Armenian, who mentioned that she and her younger sister Talin never missed this annual event. They were even invited to play the piano from time to time.

After a hearty dinner complete with turkey, shredded beef, gananch fasoolya (stewed string beans), rice, sweet potatoes, and homemade cranberry sauce, Melkonian directed her guests’ attention to a special, surprise moment for more than two dozen ARS Leola Sassouni members. The women were recognized for their selfless dedication to the organization with a meritorious service award and an honorary pin.  

The following members were honored for 25+ years of service.

Nartoohi Abrimian
Arsho Avjian
Alice Baloulian
Veron Bechakian
Verjin Chaprazian
Vartouhi Chiloyan
Silva Gebeshian
Dzaghig Kevorkian
Dzovig Kojanian
Anjel Minasian

The following members were honored for 40+ years of service.

Ojeny Abrajian
Mary Arabian
Arpi Azizian
Yevkine Gharibian
Olga Hovagimian
Parkouhi Keshishian
Mayda Melkonian
Zabel Melkonian
Pauline Nakashian
Dikranouhi Ohanian
Kohar Patalian
Yeghisapet Sarkisian

The following members were honored for 50+ years of service.

Mary Bazarian
Arpi Donabedian
Louiza Khrimian
Nevart Kouyoumjian
Mari Momjian

The evening concluded with performances by Huyser Music Ensemble, which was formed back in 2010 under the auspices of St. Illuminator’s Armenian Cathedral in New York City. The talented group sang familiar and rather moving Armenian patriotic songs including “Kedashen-Anoush Hayrenik,” “Odaroutioun,” and “Yergir Hayreni.”

Leeza Arakelian

Leeza Arakelian

Assistant Editor
Leeza Arakelian is the former assistant editor of the Armenian Weekly. She is a graduate of UCLA and Emerson College. Leeza has written and produced for local and network television news including Boston 25 and Al Jazeera America.

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