Knights and Daughters of Vartan convene in Boston
Published: Tuesday August 25, 2009
Boston - "Boston Knights Light the Way" was the theme for the 91st Knights of Vartan and 69th Daughters of Vartan Grand Convocation held at the Westin Copley Place Hotel June 30 through July 5. The meeting was hosted by Ararat #1 Knights Lodge under the command of Nelson Stepanian and by Arpie #9 Daughters Otyag (chapter) of Boston led by Matron Donna Deranian. Robert M. Avakian and a team of Ararat Lodge and Arpie Otyag members headed the Convocation Committee.
Two days of intense business meetings were held separately by the Knights and Daughters, during which delegates deliberated on various current issues and election of the officers for the ensuing year. The Knights reelected Haig K. Deranian as Grand Commander, Charles S. Guleserian as Vice Commander, Jack Medzorian as Grand Chaplain, Ara Balikian as Grand Secretary, Sarkis Gennetian as Grand Master of Ceremonies, and Arto Kurkjian as Grand Sentinel. They elected Edward Juskalian as Grand Treasurer.
The Daughters replaced the outgoing Grand Council headed by Grand Matron Anita Arslanian. The newly elected Grand Council is headed by Grand Matron Melene Ouzounian and includes Geraldine Tahajian, Peggy Kalemkarian, Salpy Adams, Betty Farsakian, Kathy Bedrosian, and Rozine Bedoyan.
The Knights gave special recognition awards during their meetings to honor individual members who had demonstrated exemplary service during the year. Award recipients included Antranik Cingoz from San Francisco, who personally raised over $100,000 from friends and associates all over the world for the Knights of Vartan Armenia School Support Project.
Also recognized were the efforts of Michael Gulbankian for his past service on the Armenia Adopt a School Project, James Kalustian and Mass. State Representative Peter Koutoujian for their extraordinary efforts in spearheading the Armenian Heritage Park and Genocide Memorial on the Boston's Rose Kennedy Greenway.
Donations made during the year 2008–9 by the Knights and Daughters to various Armenian charitable and humanitarian causes in their local communities and Armenia were reported; they came to $543,341.
The various lodges of the Knights made donations that came to $477,094, including $133,916 for the Armenia School Support Project (matched 9 for 1 by the World Bank) and a container of medical equipment and supplies for Karabagh valued at $296,500 (this was the sixth container shipped for a grand total value of $2,500,000 in this effort).
The Daughters reported donations of $66,255, including support of the Fuller Center for Housing in Armenia.
Armenia School Support Project
In his annual report, Armenia School Support Committee chairperson Levon Karakashian pointed out that since inception in the year 2000, the project has raised $1,937,558, which has been matched by the World Bank to total $19,375,576.00 of construction work performed for 187 school projects in Armenia.
The funds raised by the Knights of Vartan came from individual lodges, members, nonmembers, and charitable foundations in the USA and abroad.
The members applauded the work of the committee for their spectacular performance of this most worthy, flagship program of the Knights and Daughters of Vartan in serving critical needs of schools in Armenia.
Reports were also made by committee chairpersons of other programs, which included the Knights of Vartan Fund for Armenian Studies, the Knights of Vartan Armenian Research Center at the University of Michigan, and the annual Times Square Armenian Genocide Commemoration Committee.
Also reported was the outstanding progress of the Armenian Heritage Park and Genocide Memorial on Boston's Rose Kennedy Greenway, spearheaded by Knights of Vartan members of the Ararat Lodge #1 in Boston who initiated the project and united all of the Armenian organizations in Massachusetts to participate. It was reported that all approvals are now in hand, final fund raising is in progress, and ground breaking is expected shortly.
The week was kicked off by various Boston tours and a cocktail reception hosted by Grand Commander Haig and outgoing Grand Matron Anita Arslanian, but the first official event was the LobsterFest, which was held Thursday June 2, at the site of the USS Constitution Museum in Charlestown.
After music, hors d'oeuvres, tours of "Old Ironsides", and a lavish lobster meal, Master of Ceremonies and State Representative Peter J. Koutoujian informed the group of the Armenian connection with the Constitution, based on extensive research done by Dr. Martin Deranian.
In 1905, the Navy proposed using the ship for target practice, but Armenian immigrant and Boston businessperson Moses Gulesian offered $10,000 to preserve it, Gulesian's gesture made headlines, aroused interest, and eventually Congress appropriated funds for repairs.
St. Vartan Mamigonian Living Statue
The Friday night June 3 event began with quite an unusual exhibition. The host lodge Ararat #1 arranged for a special statue display of St. Vartan Mamigonian. Many photos were taken with the statue and more than a few were startled when the statue changed position! After the visit with the living statue, the group moved into the Armenian Cultural & Educational Center in Watertown, for an evening of Armenian mezza food and dancing to the music of the Johnny Berberian Ensemble.