ARS Bergen County “Armenouhi” Chapter Celebrates 100 Years

There’s this book called I Know a Woman. In it, the author Kate Hodges writes about connections between the women who have shaped our world – the friendships, the mentorships and the inspiration linking some of the world’s most fascinating women to one another. She says, “Behind every great woman…is another great woman.” If you have ever interacted with your local Armenian Relief Society (ARS) chapter, you’d know that to be true.  

Some of the current members of the ARS Bergen County “Armenouhi” Chapter

This year marks the 100th anniversary of my own chapter – the ARS Bergen County “Armenouhi” Chapter. For a hundred years, these incredible women have met in homes and church basements, crafting creative and lucrative fundraisers, awarding scholarships to impressive young Armenian students and finding ways to support their communities across the world through aid and relief. In 1924, founding member Armenouhi Shirvanian opened up her home in Bogota, New Jersey to a group of friends: Anoush Aslanian, Parantzem Aslanian, Bayzdar Basmadjian, Valentine Garabedian, Haiganoush Hagopian and Aghavni Sarafian. Instead of the usual cheneh, the women had a meaningful goal: seek ways to raise funds and help Armenians in need. And thus, the ARS Bergen County “Armenouhi” Chapter, previously known as the Bogota ARS Chapter, was formed.

Founding members of the ARS Bergen County “Armenouhi” Chapter, then known as the Bogota Chapter

In the following years, the founders were joined by new members, including Zora Tufanjian, Lousentak Haroutunian, Heranoush Mardirossian and Varsenik Garapedian. Together, they hosted rummage sales and tea parties and sold Christmas cards and calendars to raise money for Armenian soldiers fighting in World War II and to support Armenian schools in Syria and Lebanon. 

Members of the ARS Bergen County “Armenouhi” Chapter, many of whom are photographed as mother and daughter pairs

Time passed, new members joined, the chapter expanded and changed names, but the spirit always remained the same: incredible women helping others. Today, the ARS Bergen County “Armenouhi” Chapter continues to thrive through its dedication to service. The women, who lovingly call each other ungerouhi, have found increasingly creative ways to fundraise for our most precious causes, including Artsakh relief, donations to AYF Camp Haiastan, the foundation and operation of the Nareg School, and the awarding of over 285 scholarships since its scholarship fund’s inception in 1969.

Member Sosy Krikorian Kadian leads a group of dancers at the 1965 World’s Fair

When you’ve been doing such incredible work for so long, you’ve got to celebrate. To commemorate 100 years of service to the Armenian community and to honor the past while embracing the future, the ARS Bergen County “Armenouhi” Chapter will host an evening of dinner and dancing on Sunday, April 7 at The Terrace at Biagio’s. Members Maria Dellakian, Maro Demirdjian, Gladys Fenarjian, Hermine Manoukian, Sally Najarian, Hasmik Simonian and Takoush Tarpinian will be honored for their dedication of 50 years to the ARS, along with members who have since passed. Entertainment will be provided by musician Vicken Makoushian. 

Invitation to ARS Bergen County “Armenouhi” Chapter’s 60th Anniversary Celebration

To reserve your ticket for the event or to make a donation, contact Suzanne Azarian at 201-264-2426 or reserve online through GiveButter. Proceeds, as they always do, will find their way into the hands of the most incredible women who will then selflessly find ways to use the money to better our Armenian communities. The great women of the ARS Bergen County “Armenouhi” Chapter have done so for the last hundred years, and they’ll continue for hundreds more.

Arev Dinkjian

Arev Dinkjian

Arev Dinkjian grew up in an Armenian household in Fort Lee, NJ. She was always surrounded by art, sourced by her musical father and grandfather, Ara and Onnik, or her creative mother Margo. Arev graduated from Providence College with a degree in elementary and special education. She enjoys teaching language arts to her students and takes great pride in instilling an appreciation for literature in her classroom. She is a former member of the New Jersey AYF “Arsen" Chapter and a member of both the Bergen County ARS and the Sts. Vartanantz Ladies’ Guild. She also dedicated many summers to AYF Camp Haiastan, which she says remains her favorite topic to write about.
Arev Dinkjian

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  1. Great article. The second photo from the founding members, my great grandmother is in the photo. Years later her daughter, my grandmother was a member of the ARS Bergen County Chapter.

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