SAN DIEGO, CA – With a festive “Carnival in Venice” theme, the Fifth Bridge to the Future Gala Dinner and Dance was held on September 30, 2017 at the Sheraton Hotel and Marina Bay Tower in San Diego, California. More than 160 guests attended the event that raised $100,000 for a new Armenian Church campus near Del Mar in the City of San Diego.

Daniel Cohen, Emmy-Award winning CBS 8 This Morning & CBS News 8 co-anchor, served again as the celebrity master of ceremonies and auctioneer.

The gala was chaired by Suzanne Meader and organized over many months by the dedicated Gala and Trust Fund Committees of St. John Garabed Armenian Church, which is shepherded by the Very Rev. Fr. Pakrad Berjekian.

Inside the spectacularly decorated ballroom of carnivale masks and plumes, the program kicked off with a rousing welcome by Cohen. Vocalist Ani Meader sang the American anthem, and the Armenian anthem was sung by young singers Alexa Belmer, Kayla Belmer, Sona Danielyan, and Artur Harutunyan. Vocalists Aaron Genin and Rebecca Genin performed lovely Italian and Armenian selections during dinner. The young artist performances, and entertainment during the cocktail hour, was provided by Sona Baghdasaryan.

Parish Priest Very Rev. Fr. Pakrad Berjekian delivered an inspirational invocation and blessing. He also acknowledged donor and past honorary chair, Carol Vassiliadis, for her continuous support and landmark generosity, with a special gift from His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian.

The Guest of Honor, Her Excellency Nina Hachigian, Ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) from 2014 to 2017, delivered the keynote speech. She reflected on her years of service, and on the years of dedicated work of the San Diego Armenian community that have led up to this special moment in its history – including the legacy of her late father, Dr. Jack Hachigian, who helped conceive of the Bridge to the Future project and campus, commissioning a series of large-scale stone cross sculptures (Khatchkars) which will be featured at the new campus’ Armenian Heritage Park.

The approved property is located at 13860 El Camino Real in San Diego, just one-half mile from the ocean.
The proceeds from this event will support the construction phase of the Bridge to the Future campaign, including a state-of-the-art facility that will be built in stages over several years. The campus will feature a sanctuary, social hall, youth center, classrooms for Sunday & Armenian School, library, gymnasium, Armenian Heritage Park, picnic and meditation space, and abundant parking.

Harry Krikorian, chairman of the Trust Fund Committee, and Jim Sahagian, chairman of the Building Committee, shared special updates and progress with the gala audience, and stated that the ground-breaking is expected to take place in the coming months. A percentage of the proceeds will also go toward church operating expenses.

or more information about the new church campus and to learn about giving opportunities, please visit, or contact Gary Takessian at (858) 569-6527 or [email protected]. All contributions are tax-deductible.

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