JERSEY CITY, N.J.—Over 300 guests gathered at the Armenian Youth Federation-Youth Organization of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (AYF-YOARF) 90th Anniversary celebration on Saturday, October 28, 2023 at the Atelier Ballroom in Jersey City, New Jersey. The event brought together AYF alumni, members and supporters to commemorate the significant milestone while honoring the past, embracing the present and shaping the future of the youth organization.
This occasion served as a moment of reflection, highlighting the achievements born from our unity and igniting our determination to persist for the benefit of future generations.
In light of the recent unfortunate circumstances that our brothers and sisters have faced in Artsakh, we were encouraged to unite and remember the undeniable strength that emerges when we come together as one. As we commemorate our 90-year journey, this occasion served as a moment of reflection, highlighting the achievements born from our unity and igniting our determination to persist for the benefit of future generations.
The event featured a cocktail reception, hors d’oeuvres, desserts and an evening program, followed by a night of Armenian folk, patriotic and revolutionary music featuring the Yerakouyn Band.
Upon arrival, guests were welcomed with an exquisite, museum-like memorabilia display at the entrance of the ballroom, highlighting a curated collection of relics to honor the past 90 years of the organization’s history. In addition, a clothing rack was set up where guests could flip through vintage AYF tees to unlock some of their core memories from all the wonderful events and initiatives the AYF has offered. These shirts symbolize all the hard work put into the organization over the last nine decades.
Guests also had the special privilege of delving into the AYF’s digital archives, where they could rediscover their very first AYF member applications, the personally signed documents that marked the beginning of their AYF journey.
Additionally, a merchandise table was set up, selling AYF whiskey glasses, thank you cards, the official 90th anniversary AYF crewneck, as well as an exclusive and limited edition novelty board game, the AYF-YOARF Trivia Quest: 90th Anniversary Edition.
The Trivia Quest board game was originally created by AYF members in the late 1980s, spearheaded by Ken Sarajian and Rich Chebookjian, along with help from many others. The game, inspired by Trivial Pursuit, was created as an educational tool for chapter members and alumni alike. Earlier this year, in honor of the AYF’s 90th anniversary, the 2023 Central Executive decided to release a 90th edition version of the game, with new and updated questions.
“Upon seeing the board game in the AYF office in Watertown, the Central Executive knew that we had to remake it, given how incredible an idea it was,” said Nareg Mkrtschjan, AYF-YOARF Eastern Region Central Executive (CE) chairperson. “Countless hours were spent on the new version of the game, which includes not only updated questions, but a newly-designed board along with a fully packaged box, containing game pieces as well as instructions,” Mkrtschjan said. The AYF-YOARF Trivia Quest: 90th Anniversary Edition, the whiskey glasses and thank you cards are available for purchase at https://ayf.org/shop/.
“It is truly amazing to look up and see a room so full, with faces from all over our region, as we are here this evening to unite, standing side by side as Armenians, to shape the future of our organization and to build a new Armenia,” said AYF-YOARF 90th Anniversary Chair Hagop Taraksian in his welcoming remarks, touching on the importance of coming together following the recent crisis in Artsakh.
Then Mkrtschjan offered his remarks as CE chair. “We fundraise, advocate and stand in solidarity for our homeland. In times of crisis, the AYF has been an indomitable force, proving that our bond with the homeland is unbreakable.” He added, “I have no doubt that in the next 90 years, the AYF will continue to be the heart and soul of our Armenian youth, guiding them towards a future that celebrates our heritage while embracing the challenges of the modern world. We will expand our initiatives, explore new horizons and foster a sense of belonging for the next generations.”
AYF-YOARF Eastern Region CE Vice-Chair Ani Khachatourian presented the AYF Olympics Achievement Award to renowned singer and songwriter Onnik Dinkjian, in honor of his contributions to the AYF Olympic Games over the last five decades. The exclusive award is a representation of the AYF’s appreciation for the dedication and passion that an individual gives to both the Olympics and the organization, shining a light on the alumni of the AYF community and the commitment to fight against assimilation.
“Onnik Dinkjian embodies the true meaning of preservation. In addition to preserving the music of our ancestors, he has created a deeply rooted and proud Armenian and AYF-centered family. In these difficult times of our nation’s history, Onnik, through his music, continues to provide a beacon of hope for our Armenian Diaspora and people. This award not only celebrates the past, but it also inspires us for the future. May we all commit ourselves to the work in preserving our language and music,” Khachatourian said.
Following the program and award ceremony, Onnik left the audience in awe by delivering a surprise performance, singing three timeless classics: Odaroutioun, Hay Herosneri Yerke and Hoy Nazan.
The evening continued with the Yerakouyn Band taking the stage, performing Armenian folk songs, seamlessly interwoven with patriotic and revolutionary compositions that have stirred the hearts and spirits of many Armenian generations, leaving a lasting impression on all those in attendance.
The anniversary event also succeeded in its mission to raise significant funds to support the recently launched “Sponsor a Student” initiative to help the displaced children of Artsakh. Through the “Sponsor a Student” initiative, the AYF Eastern Region will be supplying backpacks filled with all the necessary school supplies for the displaced children, including pens, pencils, notebooks, calculators, water bottles and more.
A $50 donation will sponsor one student. The AYF-YOARF would like to thank all those in attendance who donated, as the initiative raised well over $10,000 by the evening’s end. Donations can be made through the AYF-YOARF Sponsor a Student Givebutter link, or by check to Armenian Youth Federation, 80 Bigelow Ave, Watertown, MA 02472.
The AYF-YOARF 90th Anniversary Committee would also like to extend its heartfelt gratitude to our esteemed pre-event sponsors and supporters for their invaluable contributions that played an instrumental role in making the event possible.
Marcum LLP, Philadelphia AYF “Sebouh” and “Papken Suni” Chapters and Semerjian Builders.
Aram Lorens NYC, ARS New Jersey “Shakeh” Chapter, Capital City Insurance, City Side Landscaping, Comport Consulting Corporation, ComportSecureLLC, Eastern Lamejun, Massoyan Jewelers, Providence AYF “Varantian” Chapter, Steve Mesrobian, Toufayan Bakeries and Yeremian Jewelry.
AYF-YOARF 90th Anniversary Event Council
Hagop Taraksian (Chair, AYF Member)
Sarine Adishian (AYF Alumni)
Ani Comella (AYF Member)
Victoria Ezgilioglu (AYF Member
Ani Jerikian Khatchadourian (AYF Alumni)
Mourad Tossounian (AYF Member)
Raffi Varjabedian (AYF Alumni)
2023 AYF-YOARF Eastern Region Central Executive
Nareg Mkrtschjan (Chair)
Ani Khachatourian (Vice Chair)
Harout Tashian (Treasurer)
Daron Bedian (Advisor)
Meghri Dervartanian (Advisor)
Niree Kaprielian (Advisor)
Areni Margossian (Advisor)
Talene Sagherian (Advisor)
Alec Soghomonian (Advisor)