RICHMOND, Va.—The 102nd convention of the Armenian Relief Society Eastern United States of America (ARS-EUSA) was held from July 14-16 in Richmond, Virginia. Thirty-eight delegates representing 21 chapters, the Regional Executive Board, organizational representatives, and observers and guests were in attendance.
The convention was called to order on Friday, July 14 with the singing of the anthems of the Republic of Armenia, the United States and the Armenian Relief Society. During the opening ceremony, ARS EUSA Regional Executive Board chairperson Caroline Chamavonian invited the delegates to observe a moment of silence in honor of ARS members, benefactors and supporters of the organization who passed away during the year. In her remarks, she thanked the chapters for their unwavering dedication and support for the organization’s regional and international programs, saying, “Your dedication embodies the spirit of an exemplary Armenian woman, a caring mother and a compassionate sister.”
As the proceedings progressed, Silva Takvorian, ARS Central Executive Board (CEB) treasurer and the region’s liaison; Georgi Oshagan, Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Eastern US Central Committee member; Aline Baghdassarian, Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society representative; and Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Prelate of the Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Church, made remarks on behalf of their respective organizations, expressing gratitude for their partnership with the ARS EUSA and wishing the organization success. A letter from the Homenetmen Armenian General Athletic Union was also read. Also in attendance was Archpriest Fr. Sarkis Aktavoukian of Soorp Khatch Armenian Apostolic Church of Greater Washington D.C. On behalf of the Virginia “Hooys” chapter, Leiza Bouroujian and Sona Kerneklian Pomfret welcomed the guests to their state, and ARF Virginia “Vrej” chapter representative Murad Kerneklian relayed congratulatory remarks and thanked the organization for its dedication to its motto: “With the People, For the People.” Then, the delegates attended a reception hosted by the Regional Executive Board.
The convention was chaired by Mimi Parseghian (Lowell “Lousintak”) and Sevan Koledjian (Washington D.C. “Satenig”). Meline Topouzian (Cambridge “Shushi”) and Lisa Kupelian (Detroit “Maro”) served as secretaries, diligently keeping meeting minutes throughout the weekend. Nayiri Balanian (Philadelphia “Artemis”) served as the Armenian secretary.
Guests of the convention included Angele Manoogian, Ani Attar, Maral Nakkashian and Stella Bandazian. Lucine Melikian, a member of the newly-established ARS “Sevan” chapter of Tampa, Florida was also invited as a guest, along with Susie Kanian-Andriole of the Cambridge “Shushi” chapter.
On Friday night, Takvorian presented the CEB’s 2022-2023 report. The report summarized the emergency relief efforts undertaken and the various programs implemented by the ARS in the homeland and around the world.
During the convention, Floria Kasbarian (New Jersey “Agnouni”), Pearl Teague (Vermont “Noor”), Tamitza Dakesian (Detroit “Tzolig”), Anoush Bargamian (Chicago “Zabelle”) and Nora Hovanesian Mann (Bergen Country “Armenouhi”) served as members of the nominating committee. The correspondence committee, responsible for reviewing the files and minutes of the regional office, included Fimy Ishkhanian (Philadelphia “Ani”), Violet Krikorian (Providence “Arax”) and Sirvart Telbelian (Detroit “Shakeh”). Auditing committee members were Lena Mekhsian (New Jersey “Agnouni”), Danielle Shegerian (Washington D.C. “Satenig”) and Suzi Kevorkian (Cambridge “Leola Sassouni”). Tasked with gathering decisions and intentions for future projects and plans for both the regional and the 73rd international convention, the resolutions committee comprised Yn. Maggie Kouyoumjian (New Jersey “Shakeh”), Linda Wyatt (Worcester “Knar”) and Talin Teague (Vermont “Noor”).
On Saturday, July 15, the meeting began with the presentation of the activities of the Eastern United States, where it was announced that more than $430,000 was allocated by the ARS-EUSA to local, regional and global projects. Delegates expressed their appreciation to the board and staff for their work during the fiscal year and commended their commitment to the organization’s humanitarian mission. Throughout the day, organizational topics such as recruitment and expanding membership, program evaluation and expansion, marketing/public relations and increasing financial resources were discussed. The resolutions committee presented a list of goals to guide the newly-elected Regional Executive Board in the upcoming fiscal year and a list of resolutions that Eastern Region delegates will present to the 73rd international convention to be held in October of 2023 in Yerevan. The convention also heard a report about the activities of the Armenian Youth Federation-Youth Organization of the ARF (AYF-YOARF) of Eastern Region from Central Executive member Niree Kaprielian.
That night, a banquet in honor of the convention and delegates was hosted at the Omni International Hotel in Vermont, Virginia. In attendance were Archbishop Tanielian, CEB treasurer Takvorian, representatives of the state of Virginia’s American Red Cross, who work closely with the chapter, and ARS supporters. On behalf of the host chapter, chairperson Kerneklian Pomfret welcomed the guests to Virginia and spoke about the chapter’s name “Hooys” (Յոյս), which translates to hope. She explained that “Hooys” is dear to each member’s heart because “the name encapsulates how the ARS continues to provide hope for Armenia and Armenians around the world through its activities and especially with the youth who are the hope for the continuation of our heritage, culture, traditions and the Armenian spirit.”
Then, Chamavonian thanked outgoing executive members Irma Kassabian and Carol Jaffarian, who diligently and wholeheartedly served on the board during the past four years, and congratulated the newly-elected board members.
The convention concluded with the election of Regional Board members and approval of the budget. The 2023-2024 Regional Executive Board members are Caroline Chamavonian, Talin Daghlian, Margaret Babikian, Seda Aghamianz, Mary Andonian, Tamitza Dakesian and Anoush Bargamian.