By Joyce Abdulian
LOS ANGELES, CA — Celebrating a Century of Faith, Love, and Service, the Centennial Celebration of the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA), founded in 1918 by a small group of pastors, will usher in a new era of outreach at a Banquet on October 20, 2018 at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. The goal of the world-wide Centennial Campaign has been to raise $20,000,000. The AMAA will continue its level of commitment to its mission in education, orphan and childcare, Christian ministries, medical outreach, camps, and a range of social services impacting 24 countries world-wide — following our Lord’s mandate; “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”
Banquet Co-Chairs Lori Muncherian, Arsine Phillips, Helga Sarkis, and Tina Segel are pleased to announce Kenneth L. Khachigian as the evening’s Master of Ceremonies. They welcome all to join in this landmark celebration. “The AMAA salutes its Centennial Celebration Honorees for their gracious, gallant and bountiful contributions to the century-old legacy of this organization,” says Zaven Khanjian, AMAA Executive Director/CEO.
Sheen Family Trust
John H. Sheen was born in Aintab, Cilicia (present day Turkey) to evangelical parents. Fleeing Turkey in 1913, he came to the East Coast of the United States with his mother and brother. His goal was to work hard and quickly bring his father and brother to America. Sadly, both were killed during the Genocide of 1915. Working in a buttonhole factory, he became an expert in repairing the machinery—eventually opening his own small factory. Mr. Sheen married Victoria Basmajian and they had three children, Edward, Betty and Jack. Moving to Los Angeles in 1924, John began working in a church furniture manufacturing factory. Two years later he opened his own furniture manufacturing company—becoming the second largest manufacturer in California. He then ventured into the real estate business. Mr. Sheen supported many charitable organizations, entrusting the AMAA with the greatest portion of his estate.
Camp Sheen-Shoghig in Hankavan, Armenia has provided respite for disadvantaged children as they play in the summer sun, nourished both spiritually and physically through the legacy of the John H. Sheen Trust.
Under the direction of his father’s trust, Dr. Jack Sheen is continuing the remarkable extent of Sheen philanthropy world-wide— encompassing education, relief aid in Armenia and Lebanon, evangelism, and aid for churches and missions.
Nazareth E. Darakjian MD, President, Board of Directors of AMAA, notes, “The AMAA can rightfully boast of serving the Armenian Nation for a full century and can take its place next to other organizations that helped save the survivors of the Genocide by rebuilding their homes, schools and churches. We are carrying a torch that has been passed to us from our predecessors and we need to carry that torch and run with it to raise the AMAA to a higher level of mission and service for the wellbeing of our people and the glory of God.”
Stephen Philibosian and Conte Foundation
Stephen Philibosian was born in Hadjin, Cilicia to evangelical parents. Moving with his family to historic Tarsus at age ten, he became quite accomplished as a tailor’s apprentice. In 1909, at age 19, Stephen arrived in America with his prosperous uncle who had briefly returned to Tarsus from the United States. Soon after, he found himself employed in his uncle’s Philadelphia Oriental Rug Emporium.
Philibosian’s fearless perseverance and rapid mastery of the business brought him prosperity. His creative sense of business and ever persistent efforts propelled him years later to be known as the “Dean of Oriental Rug Retailers.” He made the decision to use his wealth for the welfare of his countrymen—fulfilling a promise he had made to his mother. His passion to use his wealth for the welfare of his countrymen was inspired by the sixth AMAA Executive Secretary, Rev. Puzant Kalfayan, who profoundly captivated Stephen with narratives about the grievous situation in Lebanon—thus beginning the 75-year trajectory of Philibosian philanthropy.
Sirphue Philibosian Conte also was born in Hadjin. She came to America as a child, later becoming a successful businesswoman herself. Stephen and Sirphue married and had two daughters, Joyce and Louise. In 1955 Mr. Philibosian, under the auspices of AMAA, co-founded Haigazian College (now University) in Beirut, Lebanon—a beacon of education in the Middle East. Sirpuhe later married John Conte. They founded The Sirpuhe and John Conte Foundation and donated funds for the Conte Hall in Haigazian University’s restored landmark, the “Heritage Building.” Levon Filian, AMAA West Coast Executive Director, shares—the AMAA “has not become weary in doing good,”and has reaped God’s abundant blessings on its ministry for a full century.”
Joyce Philibosian Stein is a Trustee of the Stephen Philibosian Foundation. With husband Joe Stein at her side, Joyce, her sister Louise Danielian, daughters Tina Segel and Stephanie Landes, and grandson Stephen Danielian all continue the founder’s significant work of philanthropy. Joyce is the national Co-Chair of the AMAA Orphan and Child Care Fund. For 25 years, the Los Angeles Child and Orphan Care Children’s Fashion Show has been a much-anticipated community event, raising millions of dollars that have significantly impacted the lives of marginalized orphans and children in Armenia and Artsakh. Joyce’s devotion to one of the AMAA’s jewels, Haigazian University, has been constant throughout the well-known challenges. Some of Joyce’s multiple areas of outreach have included the Armenian Assembly, Salvation Army, Lark Musical Society, Virginia Waring International Piano Competition, Chair of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia ‘Daisy Day” fund-raising Campaign with Honorary Chair, President Dwight Eisenhower, and the Philadelphia Orchestra. As a 50-year volunteer/supporter of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Joyce has chaired various major fund-raisers. Joyce was the president of the Haigazian Women’s Auxiliary of Los Angeles for 20 years, where her many friendships in the art world led to extremely successful community fund-raising events.
Gerald and Patricia Turpanjian, TF Educational Foundation
The eldest of two Genocide survivors from Dikranagerd, Turkey, Gerald Turpanjian was born in Aleppo, Syria. He grew up in Beirut, Lebanon and immigrated to the United States to continue his education. He married Patricia Savoian and they had four children: Lori, Gary, Deanna and Paul. Founded in 2005 by Gerald and Patricia, the Turpanjian Family Educational Foundation (TFEF) is dedicated to furthering the progress of education in Armenia and the Diaspora.
Mr. Turpanjian founded Pacific Sales Kitchen and Bath Centers. Prior to selling to Best Buy in 2006, Pacific Sales was the largest retailer of luxury kitchen and bath appliances and fixtures in the United States. He is currently the chairman and CEO of New Spark Holdings, Inc. and the president of the TFEF.
The Turpanjians support many philanthropic organizations including the Armenian Missionary Association of America, American University of Armenia, Armenian General Benevolent Union, University of Southern California, projects in Artsakh, the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America, the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, and Torrance Memorial Medical Center.
As a supporter of the AMAA, TFEF has helped fund many projects: Haigazian University in Beirut, Lebanon, Merdinian School in California, Camp Hankavan in Armenia, AMAA Child and Orphan Care, Artsakh and Syrian relief and Armenian Evangelical Central High School of Ashrafieh, Beirut, Lebanon, Gerald’s alma mater.
AUA has received the Foundation’s support for multiple projects including funding the School of Public Health, the Institute of Policy Analysis and the digitization of Western and Diaspora literature for the AUA Digital Library. In conjunction with those endeavors, Mr. Turpanjian is a member of AUA’s Board of Trustees and has awarded over 2,400 university scholarships to students in Armenia. Through the Turpanjian Rural Development Program, along with AUA he has helped Armenian entrepreneurs create over 300 small businesses around the country.
TFEF supports various AGBU projects and initiatives including the Children’s Center in Malatya, Armenia and AGBU Senior Dining Centers in Armenia.
A graduate of USC, Mr. Turpanjian established the first chair in Contemporary Armenian Studies and the Chair in Civil Society and Social Change at USC.
As a partner with the government of Artsakh, TFEF has built an elementary school, two high schools and has aided in the construction of a water system in which over 3,000 residents in the village of Hadrut now receive clean water daily.
The Foundation’s support of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, and the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America includes the renovation of the ancient scriptorium in Harichavank, the establishment of the Turpanjian Theological Seminary and support of St. Leon Cathedral in Burbank, California.
Locally, Torrance Memorial Medical Center has been gifted with support from TFEF including the Turpanjian Family Chapel and their support of the Occupational Rehabilitation Center.
The impact over the years of these esteemed Honorees cannot be adequately expressed in words. Hearts, minds, and souls have been immeasurably affected by their loving generosity.
For more information about the Centennial Banquet, please call Levon Filian (626)-487-5878 or the AMAA Office (201) 265-2607.