Photos by Salbe A. Photography
CAMBRIDGE, Mass.— The Armenian Relief Society (ARS) Cambridge “Shushi” Chapter hosted over 170 guests at its sold-out Poon Paregentan Masquerade Ball fundraiser for Syria and Lebanon Relief on Saturday at the Sheraton Commander Hotel in Harvard Square in Cambridge. Guests were treated to a Venetian-themed masquerade ball, enjoying culinary treats and sipping on signature cocktails. There was also live art by GP Vahan, accordion and violin musicians and dancing to non-stop music from DJ Rams. The festive evening served its purpose of raising funds for the Middle Eastern Armenian communities in crisis.
“This organization was born out of the strife and struggle of our people,” said ARS Cambridge “Shushi” chapter chair Ani Zargarian during her welcoming remarks. “At a time of complete and utter despair, with the leadership of Edgar Agnouni, the Diasporan community sprang into action to provide humanitarian aid in support of those suffering. One hundred and ten years later, we are still here, larger and stronger than ever, spanning the globe in 27 different countries, 220 chapters with close to 20,000 members strong. We are a large army of volunteers providing our heart and soul to our Armenian communities around the world.”
She continued, “Whether we are attending to our local community needs through supporting our schools, churches, community centers, camps, youth, elderly and any individual in need, or attending to our brothers and sisters in Armenia, Artsakh, Javakhk, Syria, Lebanon and anywhere else in the world, the ARS is an organization that has always been and continues to be with the people and for the people. Ժողովուրդիս հետ, ժողովուրդիս համար.”
The chapter planned this event in response to the ARS Central Executive Board’s recent call to action and Emergency Appeal to help extend aid to Syrian and Lebanese Armenian communities. Zargarian stressed the Armenian Relief Society’s continuing commitment to Aleppo and Syria as the rest of the world has done little to help. The ARS has provided hundreds of thousands of dollars through its various programs to help those in need in Syria, including providing hot meals to needy families, offering heating assistance during the winter months, and providing for the basic needs for young Syrian Armenian families through sponsorships. She also pointed out the aforementioned emergency appeal immediately enacted by the ARS to meet the Lebanese Armenian community’s increasing needs due to the country’s economic collapse and political instability.
In closing, Zargarian made a plea to the community. “We are gathered here this evening, united in our desire to help those struggling. We are gathered here this evening because we are a strong and able community that has always supported those less fortunate. We are gathered here this evening because we would never turn our backs on our brothers and sisters. We are gathered here this evening because we are the descendants of survivors who fled persecution and found solace, peace and new beginnings in Syria, Lebanon and the four corners of this world. Ladies and gentlemen, I implore you, our community here, to join our efforts for this emergency appeal and help us extend our healing hands to our compatriots and the Armenian Red Cross of Lebanon and Syria. Our goal this evening is to raise an additional $5,000.”
Thanks to the generosity of those in attendance, that goal was reached and surpassed with close to $6,000 raised from the event.