By Melody Seraydarian
LITTLE ARMENIA, LOS ANGELES, CA – On Sunday, the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) Hollywood “Musa Ler” Chapter hosted its annual Little Armenia Beautification Project after a three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Members from multiple AYF chapters and scouting groups alike took to the streets of Little Armenia to clean up. The project began on the campus of Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School, located across the street from St. Garabed Armenian Church. The church and the school together serve as the hub of the Armenian community in the area.
“The Little Armenia Beautification Project is a day dedicated to our home away from home,” says AYF Hollywood “Musa Ler” secretary Serge Arejian. “That is why I feel it is our obligation to ensure that every year we continue this tradition to keep our city clean.”
Little Armenia has been home for thousands of Diasporan Armenian families for generations, serving as a place of refuge for many Armenian immigrants escaping various political conflicts, ranging from the Lebanese Civil War to the Iranian Revolution. The annual Little Armenia Beautification Project has been a staple of this community for years.
“The Armenian community, culture and political objectives have been recognized in many forms, such as our beautiful Montebello Genocide monument, but our Little Armenia is a living monument,” says AYF Hollywood “Musa Ler” chair Alique Boyajian. “This church and school are the core of the community.”
Equipped with brooms, rakes and trash bags, volunteers of all ages came together on Sunday to pick up pounds upon pounds of litter on the streets. This effort was to tackle waste and pollution and simultaneously give back to the community that has given Armenians so much.
“AYF members across the globe – through different initiatives and forms of political activism – work hard to make their communities a better place to live,” continued Boyajian. “In that regard, our counterparts in Armenia, living under the constant Turkish and Azeri threats, serve their community and country by fighting for its survival.”
Founded in 1933, the AYF strives to advance the goals of a free, independent and united Armenia. On Sunday, the AYF Hollywood “Musa Ler” Chapter received awards of recognition and attendance from Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell and his deputy officer George Hakopiants, Arda Tchakian from Senator Anthony Portantino’s office, Christopher Khachadour from Assemblywoman Laura Friedman’s office, and Baydsar Thomasian from Senator Monica Durazo’s office. The AYF-ers also received donated supplies from the Hollywood Beautification Team, which were sponsored and coordinated by Councilmember O’Farrell and Senator Durazo’s offices. They were also assisted and guided by the local Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Karekin Njdeh Gomideh and Armenian National Committee (ANC) Hollywood.
“In the last three weeks, the AYF has led tens of thousands of Armenians in the resistance movement against the current Armenian regime,” concludes Boyajian. “This goes to show that the AYF is multidimensional, serves on different fronts and continues to serve the community with pride.”
Melody Seraydarian is a writer from Los Angeles, California. She is an active member of the AYF Hollywood “Musa Ler” Chapter. Melody also interns for the Armenian Bar Association and volunteers for various political causes and campaigns, while working on other writing and design projects.