A Special Evening in Support of Khoren and Shooshanig Avedisian School
By Ani Nigoghosian
The AMAA Boston Child Care Committee successfully presented “Hyeminds” as over 130 guests and supporters gathered at the Wellesley Country Club in Wellesley, MA to benefit and support the Khoren and Shooshanig Avedisian School in Yerevan, Armenia.
Special guests included Pamela Avedisian, keynote presenters Garen and Emiliya Bagdasarian of APRIS Wines, and a representation of area clergy. Per its website, the “Khoren and Shooshanig Avedisian School (AHS) is an educational institution that provides outstanding K-12 holistic, tuition-free education in a modern, environmentally friendly building, using state-of-the-art facilities in the low-income southwest Yerevan district of Malatia-Sebastia. AHS was established in 1998 by the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) thanks to the vision and generosity of its benefactors, Edward and Pamela Avedisian.”
Event Co-Chairs Talin Abidian and Cara Haleblian created a beautiful evening of entertainment with a purpose. The event began with a lively cocktail hour, where guests were treated to musical entertainment provided by John Baboian while having the opportunity to view and bid on an extensive variety of silent auction items, including sports memorabilia, a wine-pull including Armenian wines, and a variety of Armenia related items.
The event Co-Chairs then made introductory statements, to set the tone for the event. “Hope comes in a familiar form—the AMAA. The reason why we’re all here is to make a difference, to give hope to all the children in our Homeland by making the dream of an education a reality.” “To our generous donors, we’ve been blown away by your gestures of support. Thank you for helping to give our young Armenian thinkers a chance to reach for the stars.”
Event MC Ara Balian introduced Rev. Father Arakel Aljalian of the St. James Armenian Apostolic Church to open the evening in prayer. Laurie Onanian presented a video discussing not just the life of her uncle Ed Avedisian, but his lifetime of philanthropy and dedication to the school, detailing how the school began, and its vital role in the lives of the underprivileged children it serves.
Featured keynote presenters Garen Bagdasarian, Founder and CEO, and his daughter Emiliya Bagdasarian, Project Manager, of APRIS Wines, then provided an entertaining and informative presentation of their family’s winery, which had been located in the heart of Artsakh. Emiliya spoke on Armenia’s important historical role in the wine industry, and how the “terroir,” that is, conditions most conducive for the production of wine, was extremely favorable in Artsakh. Given that Garen Bagdasarian had deep family roots in the area, it was a natural decision to base their winery there. Emiliya described both the joys of their experience in Artsakh, from bottling their wine and seeing it to market, to the happy occasion of celebrating her own wedding at the winery during this past summer. However, the sorrow of losing Artsakh hit the family hard. As the waging war grew closer, APRIS lost valued workers, friends, and ultimately the winery itself. But hope continues to remain strong in the Bagdasarian family, as Emiliya concluded, “We haven’t given up. We will continue.”
The ongoing suffering in Artsakh and the need to provide immediate help was a theme that ran throughout the evening. Boston Child Care Committee member Jeanmarie Papelian, Esq. spoke passionately of the school’s response to the developing situation. “Enrollment at the Avedisian School is currently at maximum capacity, with 100% of graduates going on to university.” Mrs. Papelian reported that since the evacuation of Artsakh, the school “has taken on more than 40 students, with plans of taking on even more.”
Special thanks and grateful acknowledgement are extended to guitarist and Berklee College of Music Professor, John Baboian, photography services donated by Kat and Aram Orchanian (kataramstudios.com), grand benefactors Pamela Avedisian, John and Michele Simourian, and Boston Child Care Committee Co-Chairs Susan Adamian Covo and Phyllis Dohanian.
“I am amazed at the power of love, dedication and care that the Boston Child Care Committee pour towards the children of Armenia and Artsakh. Now more than ever, every contribution makes a colossal difference in the lives of these children. Their smiles are our reward, and our love is a reflection from the Almighty” said Zaven Khanjian, AMAA Executive Director/CEO.