Worcester’s Spirit Award Winners: A Big Sister and a True Activist

Varsenig (Dusty) Dostourian Cotter received a wonderful gift three days before her 98th birthday: the Varadian Spirit Award.

If there was a Hall of Fame, she would be in it.

As she walked to the stage to receive her recognition, the response was loud. It was prolonged. It was sincere. Whether you know her or heard of her, the respect is enormous.

She has long been the AYF’s lead cheerleader. She was founder and chair of the first Worcester AYF chapter.

She was extremely close to Camp Haiastan and stayed at the original cabins at upper camp every summer as a child; those cabins no longer exist. She and a handful of others cleaned the lower camp area by hand, with hopes of improving the campgrounds for the future generation.

She has been a devoted supporter to not only the AYF, but the ARS, ARF and the church. 

She has decades of countless volunteer hours. She has made many aspects of the community better. And, how many committees?

She just recently “retired” after an amazing 70 years as the church choir director. 

Dusty Cotter being led to the stage by her daughter Nancy (Photo: Sona Gevorkian)

Dusty has been a big sister to generations of Worcester AYF and community youth.

Her devotion to the Armenian community has been and still is stellar. Her record of community volunteerism is unmatched.

The Spirit award is a super birthday present for classy Dusty, who is the oldest AYF member we know!

The second Spirit award recipient, George Aghjayan, was a member of the Providence “Varantian” Chapter and participated in numerous Olympics and AYF regional events. His span of contributions is regional and local.

George Aghjayan, 2022 AYF Olympics Varadian Spirit Award recipient

He is the director of the Armenian Historical Archives and the chairman of the ARF Central Committee – Eastern Region. 

An actuary by profession, he retired in 2014 to concentrate on Armenian-related research and projects. 

His primary area of focus is the demographics and geography of Western Armenia as well as  the “hidden” Armenians there today. He has written and lectured on Armenian genealogy and genocide denial. He is a frequent contributor to the Armenian Weekly and Houshamadyan and the creator and curator of a website dedicated to the preservation of Armenian culture in Western Armenia. He has also served on the Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church Board of Trustees and been an NRA delegate.  

Aghjayan served multiple terms as chairman and treasurer of the Worcester Aram ARF Gomidehoutioun. He is an active supporter of the AYF chapter and has served as advisor.

The Spirit awards were true to the meaning as reflected by the contributions of Dusty and George. They are true Ooster spirits, serving as role models for all.

Veratartz to Worcester was one vivid, memorable event for all who attended. Extraordinary and then some.

Harry Derderian

Harry Derderian

Harry Derderian is a native of Indian Orchard, Mass and resident of S. Lyon, Mich. He is a member of the marketing faculty at Eastern Michigan University as well as an adjunct professor of business at Schoolcraft Community College.

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