NEWPORT BEACH—The Armenian EyeCare Project held its Thirteenth Annual Newport Gala on Saturday evening, November 21, to celebrate its accomplishments, to honor those who have helped the project bring sight to Armenians and to pay special tribute to Nune Yeghiazaryan, the Project’s Country Director, who came all the way from Armenia to join the festivities. The dinner party, with 250 guests, raised funds for the five AECP Regional Eye Clinics, which are being developed throughout the country.
Arch Priest Moushegh Tashjian provided the dinner blessing. Consul Armella Shakaryan attended on behalf of the Consulate General of Armenia. Dr. John Hovanesian served as master of ceremonies for the memorable evening. Hovanesian lauded AECP’s efforts and cited the work of the organization’s doctors who donate their time saying, “The AECP lifts the spirits of those it serves and those who are called upon to give. It is a model program that inspires action.”
Throughout the evening guests delighted in traditional Armenian entertainment provided by Tom Bozigian and his Armenian Band — who also taught guests Armenian dancing following dinner. Arthur Alexsanyan and his Dance Troupe performed some magnificent dances and thrilled guests.
The Project paid tribute to Nune Yeghiazaryan in recognition of her extraordinary contributions to the Project for the past twelve years. Nune thanked everyone for their support of the EyeCare Project’s sight-saving programs in Armenia and said she is very grateful for the strong support the EyeCare Project receives from the American Diaspora. Nune is motivated by the blessings she receives from patients who regain their sight and from the parents of children who have been saved from a lifetime of blindness. Nune continued, “Each child saved from blindness is such a reward. Every child who went blind because the disease was too complicated or because the parents did not bring their child to a doctor in time is very painful and such a big disappointment. At the same time, it’s a bell to ring. We need to do more and we need to do better.”
Following dinner and a few words by Dr. Roger Ohanesian, the evening culminated with Dr. Ohanesian presenting to the audience the accomplishments of the EyeCare Project over the past year, and the Project’s Initiative, “Five-for-Five” — the developing and building of five Regional Eye Clinics throughout Armenia. At the request of the Minister of Health, the EyeCare Project will take the lead, in partnership with the Armenian Health Ministry and the Malayan Eye Hospital, to build five Regional Eye Clinics throughout Armenia. The Clinics will be located in Gyumri, Yeghegnadzor, Kapan, Ijevan, and Vanadzor making eye care geographically and financially accessible. It is the Project’s most ambitious program in its 23-year history and is projected to take five years and cost five million dollars.
Dr. and Mrs. Roger Ohanesian, Founder and Chairman of the EyeCare Project joined long-time EyeCare Project sponsors including Dr. and Mrs. John Griffin, Dr. Thomas Lee of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Judge Gassia Apkarian and Timothy Jemal, Drs. Alice and Ara Apkarian, Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Khachigian, Mr. David Keligian with daughter Lauren, Mrs. Marilyn Beck, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Tusan, Mr. and Mrs. Harut Sassunian, Mrs. Marjorie Aljian and son Reed, and many others.
In closing Dr. Ohanesian said, “It is especially gratifying to see so many of our supporters here tonight,” he said, “So many people who have devoted their resources to the AECP. It is truly a rewarding feeling.”
For over two decades, the EyeCare Project has been working to achieve their mission and bring hope and sight to Armenian eyes. What began as a medical mission to Armenia to aid war and earthquake victims has evolved into a comprehensive, integrated program to eliminate preventable blindness and to make modern eye care available to adults and children in Armenia. The program serving all Armenians—targeting the vulnerable and treating them at no cost—has seen 300,000 patients, performed 15,000 surgical procedures and given away 50,000 pairs of new eyeglasses since 2003.