On Saturday, October 28th, Der Kapriel Nazarian and the Sts. Vartanantz Board of Trustees, coordinated by Charles Mouradjian, hosted a steak dinner fundraiser to help the displaced people of Artsakh under the auspices of His Eminence, Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian. Archpriest Gomidas Baghsarian was also in attendance. As you are all aware, after an almost 300-day genocidal blockade, Azerbaijan began a military operation to ethnically cleanse Artsakh of all indigenous Armenians that resided in the autonomous oblast of Artsakh. About 120,000 refugees fled to Armenia for safety as the Azeri government began the process of unarming the Artsakh soldiers and forcing the government of Artsakh to into shutting down the government, which will officially take place on January 1st, 2024.
Prior to all this, the Sts. Vartanantz Board of Trustees was planning on having a steak dinner in order to raise funds for capital improvements. As news came flooding into our community about the conditions and needs of the Artsakh people, the Board of Trustees quickly changed their original plans and increased the donation price to $100 in order to maximize our efforts to support our brothers and sisters in Armenia. We reached out to the Eastern Prelacy to see if anyone from the Prelacy had recently traveled to Armenia and might be able to come and provide an update regarding the current situation there, St. Nerses the Great Charitable Fund, and their action plan. When Father Kapriel spoke with His Eminence regarding this event, he offered to personally attend as he will have just returned from Armenia only day before the fundraising dinner and could provide a firsthand update on the current situation. Our goal was to raise $10,000, but as usual, the community of Sts. Vartanantz church accepted the call to action, over 100 people attended the fundraiser in Aramian Auditorium that evening as well as multiple other members throughout the community sent generous donations. Including the $2,000 that was already collected from the Food Festival in September, the Sts. Vartanantz community raised a little over $25,000.00!
The emcee for the evening, Board of Trustees Chairman Levon Attarian, thanked the community for their ongoing support. He also pointed out the banner that the Homenetmen Scouts had created that morning. The banner had the image of the Mamig and Babig monument that is in Stepanakert, and the hand prints of all the scouts. The handprints symbolized our children reaching out to “touch” the hands of the children of Artsakh. Levon then read a letter from Rhode Island Senator David Tikoian. David was unable to attend the event due to another obligation he had committed to months ago, but provided an encouraging message to all in attendance that “This is not the time to feel beaten down, it’s a time to be what Armenians are known for, being STRONG and being SURVIVORS!”
Father Kapriel spoke of how touched he was by the community again opening its heart, answering the call for action, and the Board of Trustees for quickly converting this into a fundraising event. He also thanked his brother in Christ, Der Gomidas for attending and how fortunate we were that His Eminence was our guest speaker from just having returned from Armenia.
His Eminence provided words of encouragement and stated that this was not a time to lose hope, but to know that one day the people of Artsakh will go back home. He discussed how after 5,000 years, these indigenous people were robbed of their homeland, and that Azeri oil will not last forever, but the will and determination of the Artsakhties will. He compared how Job from the Old Testament had everything taken away from him, but his faith in God never quivered for a moment and how this is similar to the situation today. He stressed that now more than every is the time for us to have strong faith, hope, and love and to provide the same towards our brothers and sisters in Artsakh.
From our Food Festival to this steak dinner fundraiser the Sts. Vartanantz community is fully invested in helping the people of Artsakh. But our work will not end here. Soon, both our Sunday and Armenian schools will take home small donation boxes over the holidays, so that they can collect donations from family members and relatives to benefit the people of Artsakh. We are making a statement and sending a message to the entire world, that the Sts. Vartanantz community is and always will be ARTSAKH STRONG.
A heartfelt thank you goes out to both our Ladies Guild and Men’s Club for helping that evening, the youth and community members that offered to plate and serve the food, and to Manoushag Krikorian for decorating the hall and creating the center pieces made with fresh pomegranates and grapes. Thank you to Sylvia Attarian for baking the barazet and ghraybeh cookies.
Der Kapriel and the Board of Trustees would also like to thank all of YOU as well. As His Eminence stated, the members of our community are the wings, and only our wings can make this church, our collective body, soar to higher levels.
Sts. Vartanantz Church
Board of Trustees