BY FLORENCE AVAKIAN
PARAMUS, NJ – “We’ve got to do something,” they said, and they did, and continue to do so, declared Zaven Khanjian, Executive Director and CEO of the Armenian Missionary Association of America, (AMAA).
The “they” are the dedicated couple, John and Michèle Simourian who with “commitment, goodwill and action” took devoted action and inspired the members of the AMAA to help the survivors of the 1988 earthquake in Armenia 30 years ago.
This couple has continued to dedicate their efforts for four decades to the values and work of the AMAA, an outstanding Christian non-sectarian organization.
2018 was also the 100th anniversary of the founding of the AMAA, a very symbolic date for this noteworthy organization that has been the “Good Samaritan” to many needy people – orphans, widows, the poverty-stricken sick and grieving around the world.
Their vital and dynamic work for more than 100 years will be celebrated in grand style at a banquet in Boston, MA, on Saturday evening, October 19. Co-Chairs of the banquet are John and Michèle Simourian.
In a brief telephone conversation with this writer, Michèle Simourian said, “Out of our great respect for its sterling reputation, and what it stands for during the past 100 years, it has been a privilege to be involved with the AMAA. Also our intense love for our Armenian ancestry has played a huge role in working for our people.”
The AMAA Orphan and Child Care Program, “a birth-child of the earthquake,” has continued to serve the impoverished children of Armenia and Artzakh,” stated Mr. Khanjian.
Michèle Simourian, an AMAA Board member, and founding Co-Chair of the Program, has “vigorously led and served it” for more than 25 years.
An AMAA Celebration in Armenia
Last year the AMAA celebrated its Centennial in Armenia by inaugurating the new AMAA Community Center and Sanctuary in Gyumri which was the epicenter of the earthquake. “It celebrated the revival of Armenia’s historical epicenter of cultural heritage and intellectual treasure,” declared Mr. Khanjian.
The Center “will bring joy, add a smile on the faces of its children, and bring honor to God,” he added.
John Simourian who has been a long-time member of First Armenian Church of Belmont, MA and past trustee, will serve as Master of Ceremonies of the banquet. He revealed that he had become involved with the AMAA through association with his “wife’s leadership.”
This is “a wonderful and far-reaching organization, going strong for more than 100 years. It responds to the physical and spiritual needs of the helpless and the homeless,” he commented.
He said he was “looking forward” to his role as banquet MC, working with the Banquet Committee members and developing an interesting program for the October 19 celebration.”
With obvious emotion, Zaven Khanjian declared, “Our task as the blessed recipients of those who walked before us is set, and we are ready to embrace the future. With added resources, expanded services and multiplied vigor, a brighter future is on the horizon of the mission of the AMAA.”