Steadfast Service During a Pandemic

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The Armenian Relief Society Eastern Region (ARS-ER) “took a leap into the virtual world this year,” began regional chairperson Ani Attar. On Saturday, July 25, instead of holding their 100th convention during the 110th anniversary year of the organization, with both celebrations being postponed until next year, almost 100 dedicated members joined a general meeting hosted on Zoom by the regional board. In a pleasant and surprise turn of events, Cambridge “Shushi” chapter chairperson Ani Zargarian sang the ARS anthem live to begin the meeting.

With a focus on the successes and difficulties of the past year during extraordinary circumstances, Attar opened the meeting with a reminder that “the ARS is no stranger to disasters and crisis. Since its founding in 1910, the ARS has helped the most vulnerable in the world thanks to the ARS members who continue to devote themselves to our mission.” In addition to always supporting Armenia, Artsakh and Armenian communities worldwide, Attar outlined the many ways the ARS-ER has offered assistance to medical professionals, frontline workers and those in need during the coronavirus crisis, including providing lifesaving masks, necessary supplies and food whenever the need arises.

During the meeting, Attar presented the region’s annual report which offered a clear picture demonstrating the devotion of members, benefactors and supporters helping to continue the work of the organization. As the world has adjusted to the necessary changes to protect everyone’s health and safety, so have the ARS region and chapters by turning to technology to maintain connections and check on the needs within their communities. Zoom meetings are commonplace, as are continuing phone calls and cards. Sometimes, socially distant visits with masks have also been in order.

Looking forward to the coming year, the board invited the chapter representatives to share ideas on maintaining engagement with members, increasing membership and fundraising options in the absence of major events. In keeping with the spirit of the ARS, online attendees willingly offered chapter successes and challenges in the hopes of helping each other as the new fiscal year begins.

Since the ARS necessarily postponed the 110th anniversary celebration, Attar shared the region’s campaign for a virtual celebration, encouraging supporters to donate $110 for 110 years in honor of or in memory of a loved one. At the conclusion of the meeting, the list of donors was unveiled to everyone’s delight and gratitude. Donations continue to be accepted and also may be viewed on the ARS Eastern Region’s newly-designed website.

Pauline Getzoyan

Pauline Getzoyan

Pauline Getzoyan is editor of the Armenian Weekly and an active member of the Rhode Island Armenian community. A longtime member of the Providence ARF and ARS, she also is a former member of the ARS Central Executive Board. A longtime advocate for genocide education through her work with the ANC of RI, Pauline is co-chair of the RI branch of The Genocide Education Project. In addition, she has been an adjunct instructor of developmental reading and writing in the English department at the Community College of Rhode Island since 2005.

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