ATP Inaugurates Mirak Family Reforestation Nursery in Lori

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July 30, 2008

Armenia Tree Project Inaugurates Mirak Family Reforestation Nursery in Lori

— Special Program Welcomes Visit by Robert Mirak and St. James Armenian

MARGAHOVIT, Armenia–Armenia Tree Project (ATP) officially inaugurated its
Mirak Family Reforestation Nursery in Margahovit, during a visit by Dr.
Robert Mirak who is the program’s primary benefactor. Dr. Mirak visited the
nursery on July 17 with his sister Muriel Mirak-Weissbach and a group of
Armenian-Americans from the St. James Armenian Apostolic Church of
Watertown, led by Rev. Fr. Arakel Aljalian.

The site of ATP’s large-scale reforestation nursery was blessed by Rev.
Aljalian, and opening remarks were given by ATP Yerevan Director Mher
Sadoyan and ATP Deputy Director Jason Sohigian. "A few years ago, the Mirak
Family contacted ATP looking for a new project to support. I remember
visiting with Dr. Mirak and his daughters Jennifer and Julia, when our
executive director described our goal of establishing our own reforestation
nursery here in northern Armenia, which was hardest hit by deforestation
after independence," recounted Sohigian.

"This nursery has allowed ATP to expand its capacity in reforestation, and
this program has served as a launching pad for our partnership with Yale
University’s school of forestry. Experts from Yale have worked here in the
local forests with Armenian volunteers and professionals to help us prepare
a sustainable forestry manual which will instruct local residents on how to
both use and also protect the resources provided by our forests for use by
future generations," he added.

The event was attended by Margahovit Mayor Seyran Ananyan, as well as the
mayors of Aygut and Aghavnavank, where ATP is working with the local
communities to implement reforestation programs. The 15-acre nursery was
established in 2005 with the support of the John Mirak Foundation, which
also funded a significant portion of its operational costs for five years.
This nursery has the capacity to produce one million tree seedlings per
year, which has greatly expanded ATP’s reforestation programs in northern

Dr. Mirak and his sister Muriel cut a ribbon for a memorial stone at the
site, which is dedicated to the memory of their parents John and Artemis
Mirak who were survivors of the Armenian Genocide from Arapkir. "As a true
Armenian, my father had special love for trees. For that reason he planted
four trees in his backyard garden and named them after his four children. He
nurtured those seedlings with so much love, and his trees gave a bountiful
harvest of fruit," recounted Dr. Mirak. "Besides the trees, my father was
happy when he was in the mountains, surrounded with nature."

"My parents never returned to their homeland, but they always wanted to see
their beautiful native-land. I am sorry they are not here today to see this
marvelous nursery, because it combines everything that they loved so
much-the mountains, trees, and programs in Armenia," continued Dr. Mirak in
his remarks. "I know that they are happy now, as this program is sustainable
and prosperous. Our family hopes this nursery will flourish and that Armenia
will flourish too for thousands and thousands of years."

After the program, ATP staff led the guests on tours of the nursery, which
currently contains over 500,000 seedlings of pine, maple, oak, ash, and
other indigenous trees that will be planted in the surrounding hillsides in
the coming months and years.

While the guests enjoyed a luncheon of locally grown vegetables and fruits,
a group of schoolchildren from the village performed a skit about the
importance of trees and their biological functions as part of the
interconnected natural world. The group participated in ATP’s environmental
education program in Margahovit, which was implemented through the
leadership of a local teacher using ATP’s "Plant an Idea, Plant a Tree"

In the 1930s, John Mirak established the Arlington Center Garage and Service
Corporation. With the involvement of sons Robert, Charles, and Edward, and
now members of the third generation of the family, the businesses have
expanded to include Mirak Chevrolet/Hyundai, Mirak Properties, and Mirak
Leasing. The Mirak Family has contributed to a number of other charitable
and education institutions, including Arlington’s hospital, libraries, and
the preservation of historic structures, and the Armenian Cultural
Foundation in Arlington, MA.

Since 1994, Armenia Tree Project has planted and restored more than
2,000,000 trees and created hundreds of jobs for impoverished Armenians in
tree-regeneration programs. The organization’s three tiered initiatives are
tree planting, community development to reduce poverty and promote
self-sufficiency, and environmental education to protect Armenia’s precious
natural resources. For additional information, visit the web site


(Mirak Family Dedication.jpg) Dr. Robert Mirak and his sister Muriel
Mirak-Weissbach (center) cut the ribbon to inaugurate Armenia Tree Project’s
Mirak Family Reforestation Nursery in the village of Margahovit; the Miraks
visited the site with a group from the St. James Armenian Apostolic Church
of Watertown led by Rev. Fr. Arakel Aljalian (right)

(Mirak Family Nursery.jpg) Dr. Robert Mirak (second from right) is pictured
at the Armenia Tree Project Mirak Family Reforestation Nursery in Margahovit
with Rev. Fr. Arakel Aljalian, Michael Weissbach, Muriel Mirak-Weissbach,
and ATP Yerevan Director Mher Sadoyan; the nursery was inaugurated in memory
of John and Artemis Mirak