Cafesjian honored with COAF Save a Generation award
Published: Thursday December 23, 2010
New York - New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art provided a stunning backdrop for the Children of Armenia Fund (COAF) gala celebration on December 16 that extended its 2010 Save a Generation award to entrepreneur and philanthropist Gerard L. Cafesjian (who is also the publisher of The Armenian Reporter).
John Evans, former U.S. Ambassador to Armenia and member of COAF Board of Directors, received the award on behalf of Mr. Cafesjian, who was recognized for his record of support for Armenian causes.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D), Reps. Betty McCollum (D) and Reps. Tim Walz (D), and former Sen. Norm Coleman (R), all from Mr. Cafesjian's home state of Minnesota, as well as Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), co-chair of the Armenian caucus, extended letters of congratulations on the occasion.
In remarks delivered by Ambassador Evans, Mr. Cafesjian called the honor a "high point of [his] life."
Mr. Cafesjian described COAF's mission - to improve the livelihood of Armenians, and particularly children, in Armenia - as central to the viability of the Armenian nation.
"If the exodus of people from the Republic of Armenia is not stanched, the Armenian people will eventually become extinct through intermarriage" thus making the Genocide of Armenians complete, Mr. Cafesjian warned.
He urged all those present to not waste their resources but focus them on Armenia.
"The more you do, the better you will feel," he predicted. "And you may help defeat the ongoing battle of the Genocide."
New York City's premiere Armenian event
COAF is the brainchild of entrepreneur and scientist Garo Armen. Since its inception in 2004, the fund's programs have focused on lifting a cluster of ten villages in Armenia's Armavir province out of poverty. Programs completed so far are worth nearly $10 million and have helped improve the lives of 22,000 children and adults.
On top of its successful programs in Armenia, COAF has made a mark with its world-class fundraising events held annually in New York.
The $1000-a-person gala titled "Building a Brighter Future" on December 16 brought together nearly 300 supporters with commitments of more than $1.5 million to COAF's programs made that evening alone.
The night featured dozens of young American and Armenian musical talent. Many in the audience were moved to tears by a rendition of "Yerevan Dartsats im Erebuni" performed by three young girls from Armenia.
The event also celebrated the life of actor and philanthropist Paul Newman featuring a presentation by COAF's Armenia-based photo-video club sponsored by Newman's Own Foundation.
President of Carnegie Corporation of New York Vartan Gregorian was the guest speaker, with additional remarks by sculptor Michael Aram and Dr. Helen Evans of the Metropolitan Museum.
Emmy & Tony award winning actress Andrea Martin served as the emcee and she was assisted by Sotheby's Hugh Hildesley and former CBS News anchor Mark McEwen.
COAF Board members Cynthia & Larry Feinberg and Huguette & George Pagoumian served as honorary chairs of the gala. Kelley & Gregory Badishkanian and Alysia & Gregory Ekizian as well as Tatoul Markarian and Garen Nazarian, Armenia's Ambassadors to U.S. and United Nations, respectively, served as co-chairs.
Along with Amb. Nazarian, Armenian American community leaders in attendance included Primate of the Armenian Church of Eastern United States Archbishop Khajag Barsamian and Vicar General of the Eastern Prelacy Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian.
Past COAF Save a Generation award recipients included Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times, actresses and activists Jane Fonda and Sherry Lansing, and philanthropists Dikran Izmirlian, Henry and Daniel Sahakian, Mr. Feinberg and Mr. Pagoumian.
Upon retiring from West Publishing and establishing the Cafesjian Family Foundation in 1996, Mr. Cafesjian, now 85, has fully dedicated his time and resources to the benefit of the Armenian people in the Homeland and Diaspora.
In their remarks Dr. Armen and Mr. Gregorian underscored the extent of Mr. Cafesjian's efforts, with the Carnegie Corporation president saluting "all Cafesjians" of the world who invest in Armenia.
CFF has invested more than $128 million in various ventures in Armenia with all profits reinvested in Armenia or donated to non-profit programs.
In 2004 and 2006, CFF contributed a total of $35,000 to COAF, primarily benefiting its "Open the Doors to All" program that protects children and youth in Armenia from discrimination based on mental or physical disability.
Out of $11 million in total CFF grants since the foundation's inception in 1997, CFF has awarded more than $1 million in support of programs that benefit Armenian children. Major beneficiaries included the Orran Foundation, Inc., Ani and Narod Memorial Fund and the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU).
Remarks by Gerard L. Cafesjian delivered at the COAF Awards Gala on December 16, 2010 by Ambassador John Evans:
Although I am unable to attend tonight's event in this memorable venue with you wonderful people, please know: this event is a high point of my life.
First, your recognition of my efforts to help Armenians is valued because you are the most efficient, smart and focused among those who want to help Armenians. COAF has the vision, and, most importantly, the leadership to be a model for others to follow.
We are fortunate to have leaders like Garo Armen and Alice Saraydarian. Luminaries like Vartan Gregorian. And I am especially blessed to have the likes of Steve Scallen, Father Dennis Dease and so many more.
QUESTION: So what is the big deal about the Children of Armenia Fund?