The New Jersey Armenian Community Relief Initiative and its COVID-19 Task Force have been working hard supporting local families during the global pandemic.
The initiative was organized by the ARF “Dro” Gomideh of New Jersey and includes local chapters of the Armenian Relief Society (ARS), Hamazkayin of New Jersey, Homenetmen of New Jersey and the Sts. Vartanantz Church community and Very Rev. Fr. Sahag Yemishian, Vicar General.
The New Jersey COVID-19 Task Force was created on March 16 and has been meeting regularly ever since. Volunteers have been reaching out to the elderly to check on their health and ability to secure basic needs. The Task Force also issued an announcement including safety instructions and telephone numbers for community members to use in case they need help securing food and medication.
Dr. Kim Hekimian PhD, professor of public health at Columbia University, has been instrumental in shaping the operational strategy of the initiative. Dr. Hekimian maintains a working relationship with Armenian authorities and updates community members in the Diaspora of initiatives in Armenia and Artsakh to combat the pandemic.
Several weeks into its operation, the task force initiated a campaign of appreciation for the efforts of Armenian healthcare professionals on the front lines of the pandemic in New Jersey. The Task Force organized and prepared dozens of gift baskets containing a selection of fruits and vitamin-rich teas and candies, along with a letter of appreciation from the New Jersey Armenian Community Joint Relief Initiative, which read, “As modern day fedayees on the frontlines of the battle against this disease, we appreciate your sacrifices and hard work. We wish you continued health and strength.” A hopeful and prayerful message from Very Rev. Fr. Sahag Yemishian was also included.
This initiative has exemplified how the ARF family with its sister organizations and other community institutions can come together in times of crisis. The number of volunteers who stepped up to help and the expressions of appreciation and praise that members of the task force received are proof that once again Armenians are at their best in difficult times. The ARF is an organization founded to serve the interests of the Armenian people in battles for survival, battles for liberation, in the fields of education, culture, and now during health crises. There have been similar initiatives in other regions led by the ARF, lifting the national spirit and renewing the pledge of this esteemed organization in the service of Armenians.