OC Armenian Community Meeting with a Unity of Purpose and Action

OC Armenian Community Meeting with a Unity of Purpose and Action

February 27, 2023, Orange County, CA — ARF Armen Karo Gomideh invited all OC Armenian community organizations, Forty Martyrs and St. Mary Armenian Churches, Ari Guiragos Minassian (AGM) Armenian school and the three Saturday schools to a community wide meeting at Ghazarian Hall of the Barsamian Armenian Center in what has become an annual or biannual gathering of community leaders to discuss current activities and projects, and plans for the coming year and the future, both locally in the community and for the Homeland.

ARF Armen Karo and ACF OC Chairman Garo R. Madenlian welcomed everyone and invited Reverends Karekin Bedourian from Forty Martyrs and Servope Alanjian from St. Mary to conduct the opening prayer together. He then addressed the attendees and expressed how important it is for our community to come together periodically, to learn about each other’s activities and plans, and to work together and coordinate local matters important to the entire community, as well as Armenian national issues which include AGM, Artsakh, and ANCA initiatives.

Each attendee introduced themselves and their respective organization(s), and briefly discussed their ongoing activities. Ani Sarkissian, principal of AGM then provided an update regarding the only Armenian day school in Orange County complete with a slide show and videos. She detailed the curriculum, extracurricular activities, community involvement, the growing number of students currently at 150, and of course the addition of a 7th and 8th grade. The Forty Martyrs Armenian Church had previously secured a $2M donation which will be used to construct a new 2 story building for the middle school, anticipated to be ready for the 2024 school year.

ANCA OC representative Dr. Kev Abazajian and Garo R. Madenlian provided a brief update regarding ongoing ANCA initiatives in Congress as well as the local efforts here in OC. They emphasized the important role local chapters play in the ANCA’s work especially when reaching out to and working with elected officials, complimenting and enhancing the work in DC by the national office. They then discussed two immediate local initiatives for tomorrow, Tuesday, February 28, 2023; in the morning the OC Board of Supervisors will discuss a resolution condemning the ongoing blockade in Artsakh while in the evening the City of Irvine will discuss dedicating an Armenian Genocide Memorial at the Great Park.

Both passed unanimously the next day! OC Board of Supervisors not only condemned the ongoing blockade of Armenians in Artsakh, but also supported humanitarian assistance, and sent letters to California’s Senators and Orange County’s Representatives stating the same. While the Irvine City council agreed to have an Armenian Genocide Memorial at the Great Park and directed staff to work with the Armenian community of OC.

The attendees then heard from ANC Artsakh Executive Director Gev Iskajyan live from Stepanakert. He provided an up to the minute account of the current situation, the mood of the people and the Republic of Artsakh’s efforts to maintain the population during the ongoing blockade and subsequent humanitarian crisis. He emphasized that the people of Artsakh know they are not alone, that the Armenian diaspora stands with and supports them, and are motivated when they see and hear about diasporan Armenian efforts in support. The comprehensive update was followed by a question-and-answer session providing the community an accurate glimpse of the situation in Artsakh.

The community leadership once again decided to hold a united Armenian Genocide Commemoration event this year, tentatively scheduled for April 20, 2023. The details will be coordinated by the Armenian Center with both Churches, AGM student’s annual program will be incorporated, and the ANCA OC chapter will once again invite elected officials.

At the conclusion of the meeting, many stayed and continued to discuss community issues and the ongoing crisis in Artsakh in an informal family atmosphere.