This year, the Armenian Relief Society of Western USA is celebrating its 35th Anniversary with a Gala at the Glendale Hilton on March 9.
At the time the Western Region was established, there were 15 chapters in the Western United States. One of the first challenges for the ARS of Western USA was to find a headquarters from which to conduct its activities, including managing the network of ARS Saturday Schools and the ARS Social Services Centers that opened in 1979.
Thanks to a generous donation from Armenouhi Nazigian, the ARS Western Region finally found a home at 517 W. Glenoaks Blvd in Glendale, opening its doors just days before the devastating earthquake that struck Armenia on December 7, 1988.
The Nazigian Center immediately became the nerve center of the ARS Western Region in the days, weeks and months after the quake. Boxes of containers full of aid were collected at the tiny Center and air freighted to Armenia. More than $4.5 million in aid was raised with the cooperation of the Western Prelacy; and went toward building housing for the homeless, sending medical and dental equipment, establishing mental health clinics and renovating hospitals and schools in the earthquake zone areas of Gyumri and Spitak. For 27 years, until 2015, the ARS Western Region sent aid to 2,000 orphans of the earthquake.
The ARS, recognizing that it had outgrown its small domicile, built a 2-story, 7,100-square foot complex that houses its offices, the ARS Social Services Center, Guidance Center, and parking in 1999.
The ARS Western Region has also had a big role in aiding Armenian communities in Artsakh, Javakhk, Iraq, Syria and other areas where there have been political upheavals and societal conflict. To this day, the ARS Western Region, with the support of its 25 chapters, provides operational expenses for 2 kindergartens in Artsakh and 2 youth centers in Javakhk, located in Georgia. In 2016, when homelessness in Los Angeles became rampant, the ARS Western Region started a program called the ARS Families in Need Fund with the help of many of its chapters.
Proceeds from the 35th Anniversary Gala of the ARS of Western USA will benefit the ARS Families in Need Fund. Headlining the Gala will be a video and proclamations honoring Jasik Boniatian Jarahian, who has selflessly served the ARS of Western USA for 30 years in advancing its cause to help communities both locally and internationally.
For further information about the Gala, please contact the ARS Regional Headquarters at (818) 500-1343 or [email protected],
The Armenian Relief Society, founded in 1910 in New York City, has chapters in 27 countries around the world. The ARS of Western USA is one of 10 regional bodies that govern the international network of ARS chapters. There are 1,240 members of the Armenian Relief Society in the Western Region.
Our region’s pivotal programs are aimed at offering assistance to individuals and families in need through the areas of educational, social and family services, humanitarian aid, cultural advancement, and more. The ARS of Western USA operates a Social Services Division; a Child, Youth and Family Guidance Center; 16-one day schools and 3 full-time day care preschools. ARS also provides support to kindergartens and youth centers in Armenia, Artsakh, and Javakhk.