There is no doubt that this past year has been one of the most challenging for Armenian communities around the world. A global pandemic brought the entire world to its knees, especially affecting our communities in Armenia, Syria and Lebanon. A devastating explosion in Beirut back in August left an already struggling community facing even more hardship. Finally, the distressing 44-day Artsakh War led to the loss of thousands of our young men, and the capitulation of our lands left tens of thousands of families homeless and jobless. These humanitarian crises were coupled with everyday challenges in our local communities, Armenian schools, elderly facilities, small businesses, churches and camps. In response, the Armenian Relief Society (ARS) mobilized in full force to raise millions of dollars to help lead in the recovery efforts of these catastrophic events.
The ARS Cambridge “Shushi” Chapter, for its part, has worked hard in executing unique and effective fundraisers during a pandemic in which traditional fundraising has been rather impossible. The chapter quickly transitioned into the virtual realm and focused on the mind and body with self-care programs and monthly ZOOMba and yoga classes, led by Talin Avakian and Eva Sevian respectively. These programs started back in August, and to date have raised $5,000 for various ARS programs, including Lebanon relief, COVID relief for Syria and the Artsakh Relief Fund.
The “Shushi” Chapter also organized a successful Christmas holiday wine and nut gift package offering that introduced the Boston community to Armenian wines (Zulal and Keush) and supported Armenian businesses (Storica and Fastachi); proceeds benefited the ARS “Stand with an Artsakh Family” program. This effort alone raised over $5,000; with additional donations, the chapter contributed $8,500 towards this specific initiative. The Cambridge “Shushi” Chapter has donated a total of $35,000 to these relief efforts.
The chapter recently announced its spring fundraiser with the charming title, Hippity Hoppity to the HOMeland, offering Easter basket gift packages for $40 filled with one-of-a-kind, handknit Easter bunnies made in the Armenian community of Kapan, Armenian chocolates, a framed Armenian prayer and other surprise treats. Handknit pastel Easter egg ornaments are also available for purchase.
In an ongoing effort to support Armenian businesses, the ARS Cambridge “Shushi” Chapter was delighted to discover Tamara’s Knitted World—a brand new venture that just started in January by a young woman from Kapan, Armenia. “Not only are we supporting a new female-owned business from Armenia and introducing her to our community, but we are simultaneously raising funds in support of our compatriots around the world,” said Cambridge “Shushi” Chapter chair Ani Zargarian. “These are the types of opportunities that we seek.”
The chapter is looking forward to its continued efforts in supporting Armenian communities around the world. If you are interested in joining the chapter or placing an Easter basket order, email ARSShushi@gmail.com