The search continues for Baby Garen’s kidney donor

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Baby Garen Yepremian is still in desperate need of a kidney. That’s what compelled about 150 members of the local community to come together on Saturday evening at Sts. Vartanantz Church for a prayerful service and fundraiser dinner to support the Yepremian family’s mounting healthcare expenses and raise awareness for a lifesaving donor.

Big brother Ari sat on grandmother Ardemis’ lap (left to right) beside Garen and mom Annie during dinner (Photo: GVK Images)

The nearly two-year old Garen was the guest of honor for the evening, touching the hearts of all in attendance. His parents Sebouh and Annie along with big brother Ari and grandmother Ardemis were filled with gratitude for the outpouring of love and concern from the community. Rev. Fr. Kapriel Nazarian and Archdeacon Hagop Khatchadourian of Sts. Vartanantz Church welcomed Archpriest Fr. Gomidas Baghsarian and Rev. Hagop Manjelikian (retired of the Armenian Evangelical Church) to participate in a healing prayer service in the church sanctuary prior to the start of the meal. Several dozen people witnessed the intimate ceremony and lifted up their prayers to bless and heal young Garen. It was an emotional sight when the three clergy laid their hands on little Garen’s head in a powerful prayer for his health. The service concluded with the congregation reciting the Hayr Mer in unison.

The clergy laid their hands on Garen in a prayer for healing

The fundraiser steak dinner, the first such in-person community gathering since the pandemic began, was organized and prepared to perfection by the church’s Men’s Club. It was postponed from the previous week due to inclement weather, but as Men’s Club treasurer Steve Elmasian said, “Everyone who could not attend this week due to the change of date without fail told us to keep the money as donations.” More than two dozen people volunteered their services for the evening under rare blue skies and sunshine. Between the steak dinner, donations and a raffle, the event raised about 12-thousand dollars for little Garen and his family. Elmasian noted that prior to the evening’s event, two other successful events were held for the Yepremian family by Sonia’s Near East Market and Deli, owned and operated by brother and sister Ara and Sevan Janigian, and the Armenian Evangelical Church.

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“The next time you happen to hear Carly Simon sing ‘These are the good old days,’ remember events like this where a community rallies around a family in need of so much more than the funds that were raised,” remarked Elmasian as he thanked everyone for their generosity. Garen’s father Sebouh emotionally outlined his son’s journey from birth to now, praising his wife Annie for her unending and loving care of their son. “Soon she’s going to be a certified nurse with all she’s learned to do for Garen,” said Sebouh. “He’s our blessing,” he continued, “and we just pray for a kidney so he can live a normal life.”

Baby Garen in his father Sebouh’s arms helped Steve Mesrobian (left) with the raffle drawing as Steve Elmasian (right) announces the winners (Photo: GVK Images)
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.

1 Comment

  1. Our church and organizations are always busy doing all sorts of events. People have said, “It’s expensive being an Armenian” and “I’d have a lot of free time if I wasn’t an Armenian”. Perhaps these are true, but we all like it this way. This event was one that tugged on the heartstrings of all those that were there and so many others that donated because of other obligations.

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