By Eileen Keusseyan
PARAMUS, NJ – On Saturday, March 4, 2023, the Beverly Hills Hotel ballroom was absolutely gorgeous, all decked out in “Toile of Armenia” drawings and designs created exclusively by artist Alyssa Bojenkova, representing our Armenian heritage and culture. This year, the AMAA Child and Orphan Care Luncheon and Fashion Show was dedicated to recognizing 30 years of caring for children and their families in Armenia, as well as in Artsakh, Lebanon and Syria. The luncheon and fashion show were an absolute success, supported, of course, by over 500 of our donors, supporters and guests, as well as 60 models who walked the double runway to the glee, joy and happiness of all those in attendance.
This year, our Luncheon Co-chairs were Lisa Karamardian, Nicole Nishanian and Leslie Shahinian. This talented and fabulous trio did a remarkable job and despite the endless planning, designing, organizing and hard work in the midst of their own busy professional, family and social lives, made it all appear seamless. Kudos to these ladies!
Our Mistress of Ceremonies was Dr. Taryn Rose, an orthopedic surgeon by profession but more importantly, a unique and delightful soul, who founded her first shoe company in 1998 and grew it from her garage to $40 million in sales ten years later. Dr. Rose, before taking the stage, socialized with just about everyone in the ballroom, took many photos and with her warm smile and a glitter in her eye, not only bid on many items in the auction but also made sure to encourage sponsorships as well as encouraging others to bid. We thank Dr. Rose whole heartedly for her support and presence.
Ani Zakari’s devotional and prayer at the opening of our program was heartfelt and poignant. She reminded us all of Romans 12:13 – “when God’s people are in need, be ready to help them” – which has always inspired all of us working tirelessly on this committee of committed, devoted and enthusiastic ladies.
AMAA Executive Director/CEO Zaven Khanjian, greeted the guests and gave a message regarding the work of the Association in Armenia, Artsakh, and Syria, and the humanitarian relief that is being provided to those in need.
The silent auction committee, led by Sandy McNutt and Houri Kassabian went above and beyond with so many valuable items, priceless adventures and trips as well as one-of-a-kind sports memorabilia, designer bags, and jewelry. As always, the bidding started the moment our doors opened, with the reception room buzzing excitedly and anxiously with our guests racing back and forth to place the winning sticker on the bid sheets before the auction closed. What fun! Thank you to all of our winners who made this year’s auction the most profitable ever!
And did we mention the cutest fashion show ever where we partnered with Saks Fifth Avenue Beverly Hills this year for the first time? Ariana Dermendjian, Jacqueline Geragos and Aleen Oruncakciel were so very meticulous in lovingly organizing our precious models who walked the magical runway created by Betty Balian, who is truly a visionary and a unique talent.
Of course, our program also featured Tina Segel’s emotional video of some of our recipient families and children as well as their living conditions which brought a tear to each eye in the ballroom. It was such a relevant and poignant representation which continues to encourage our Committee ladies to work harder each and every year to care for more and more children and families in dire need.
A special thank you also to all the members of the behind-the-scenes team, led by Sandra Kalemkiarian. Without their precision and scrupulous attention to detail, an event of this magnitude would not be possible.
Proceeds from this event helps facilitate the sponsorship of over 1,600 children, support 4 kindergartens in Artsakh and Armenia, support 6 “Shogh” Day centers located in Yerevan, Vanadzor, Gyumri, Askeran, Stepanakert and Shushi (after the 44-Day Way the Shushi “Shogh” Centers began operating out of Stepanavan), provide summer and day camp experiences for nearly 12,000 children and youth, provide 95 Christmas programs in 24 towns and villages throughout Armenia and Artsakh, offer various art, sports, theater and tutoring classes for 1,500 children, and assist needy families with relief packages and provide medical and dental care to over 6,000 children.
The amount of support has always been phenomenal, and it has all come from our guests, our supporters, and our donors! The children are so very grateful for all that you have done for them and continue to do. On behalf of all the children who have benefitted one way or another from your generosity, we thank you and can’t wait to see you at our 2024 event.