The Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, CA was the beautiful setting of the Armenian Missionary Association of America’s (AMAA) 20th Annual Orphan and Child Care luncheon and children’s fashion show held on March 19. A sold out crowd of over 500 guests and supporters of AMAA’s Orphan and Child Care programs was warmly welcomed by the luncheon chairwomen, Sandy Bedrosian and Maro Yacoubian. The Co-Chairs of this event worked tirelessly for months to make every aspect of the luncheon enjoyable for all the guests.
Henry Segel, 13 year old grandson of Joe and Joyce Stein, esteemed advisor and National Co-Chair of the Orphan and Child Care Committee, gave a moving devotional about charity and asked the audience to “not turn a blind eye to the poor.” He reminded everyone that it is “our responsibility to fund and nurture those less fortunate” by being generous in caring for Armenia’s needy children. Henry offered a prayer asking God to “keep us charitable, so that we may continue to put shoes on the feet of these children, to put food on their plates and to give them beds to sleep in.”
Joyce Stein’s interview with nine year old Nellie Soames captured everyone’s attention. Nellie explained that she donated $250 of her own money for the needy children in Armenia. Levon Filian, Executive Director of the AMAA, thanked everyone for attending and for their continued support of the AMAA programs and projects, and specifically, the orphan and child care projects.
This year’s record breaking silent auction was especially spectacular – there were many wonderful items to bid on! Christina Jabarian, silent auction chair, with the help of many committee members, especially Sandy Bedrosian, helped procure items which made the auction a tremendous success. Each of the guests received a beautiful pearl cross, donated by Christina and Harout Jabarian.
During lunch, Nar Gulvartian, son of Lucy Gulvartian, presented a moving video describing the poor and substandard conditions which many of Armenia’s children live in. Maro Yacoubian and her twelve year old son, Vahe, encouraged everyone to sponsor a child. Vahe read very touching letters from Angela and Gourken, two children in Armenia. Nearly 70 needy children were sponsored.
After a delicious dessert, the children’s fashion show was introduced by Marilyn Bezdikian and Ani Zakari, who coordinated this year’s show. The fashion show was sponsored and produced by Nordstrom Glendale. Sabrina Agbabian, 14 year old granddaughter of Elizabeth Agbabian, shared her memories of being an AMAA child/orphan care model since the age of three. “Every person in this room has made a difference” said Sabrina, “and with all of our generosity, love and kindness combined, we can have a large impact on many children in Armenia.”
The finance and reservations chair, Sandra Kalemkiarian, who works tirelessly every year for the success of this event, was joined by her daughter, Sara, who incorporated new technology and programs to efficiently close out the auction. Diane Cabraloff and her daughter, Anush, worked to help with the close out as well.
The tables were adorned with breathtaking floral centerpieces which were generously donated by Zareh David Ghoukassian of Z’s Flowers in Glendale. The committee is very grateful to Z’s Flowers for its continued support of this event every year.
The guests left the event with a bag full of goodies, including amazing lotions and nail care products donated by Jessica Vartoughian of Jessica Nails, and raisins donated by LindaKay Abdulian. The beautiful gift bags with the AMAA logo were created and generously donated by Arsi Seraydarian.
Plans are already underway for next year’s fashion show and luncheon which will again be held at the Beverly Hills Hotel, explained Lori Muncherian, the West Coast Co-Chair of the committee. “We are looking forward to another successful year to help raise money for the needy children in Armenia.”
“We are trying to help change a child’s life and give hope for a better future one child at a time,” explained Tina Segel, daughter of Joyce Stein and a dedicated member of the committee. If you would like to sponsor a child or make a donation, please contact Arsine Phillips at (213) 509-4337.
The Orphan and Child Care Committee thanks everyone who contributed to this event by their attendance, donations, participation and financial support.
In Deuteronomy 15:7-8 we read: “If anyone is poor among your fellow brothers in any of the towns of the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tightfisted toward them. Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need.”
The message portrayed in these verses is about charity. It says, “do not be hard-hearted or tightfisted… rather be openhanded and give freely.” As centuries have passed, the gap between the wealthy and the poor has widened, and those of us who are on the more desirable side of the spectrum are challenged to help and nurture those who are less fortunate.
Two summers ago, I was fortunate enough to visit the Sheen-Shoghig Camp in Hankavan, Armenia. I witnessed how the AMAA invited the poor children in Armenia to give them a health check-up, clothing to take home with them, a comfortable bed, three meals per day, and an atmosphere of love and care, fun and games. What struck me most, were their adorable faces and the beautiful smiles on their faces.
Well, I can assure you, that the AMAA is not hard-hearted, or tightfisted. In many ways, the AMAA was responsible for those smiles. Smiles so vibrant that you would have thought it was Christmas morning.
I think what we can learn from all of this, the verse, the children and the camps, is that it is our duty, as Christians, to keep those smiles on those faces. And, if we are generous as the Bible tells us to be, I can promise you the happiness, the joy and the hope that we bring will be returned.
Please bow your heads in prayer,
Dear Lord, I pray that you will inspire us to fulfill our responsibility as Christians and keep us from being hard-hearted, or tightfisted. I pray that you keep us charitable, so that we may continue to put shoes on the feet of these children, to put food on their plates, and to give them beds in which to sleep. And Lord, we pray a special prayer today for those families in Armenia, whose lives are burdened with hardship. May we do our part today to help them. In your name we pray, Amen.