Was PAC-WUSA’s HyeAid Lebanon Telethon a success or a failure?
Posted on September. 6. 2020
Friday September 5, 2020 Last updated 11:37 PM PDT
BY APPO JABARIAN Executive Publisher / Managing Editor USA Armenian Life Magazine (English-language print edition) USA Armenian Life E-Newsletter (Electronic Distribution — e-blast) Hye Kiank Armenian Weekly (Armenian-language print edition) USA Armenian LifeFACEBOOK www.armenianlif.com
Sunday August 30’s HyeAid Lebanon Telethon showcased a great cultural, TV news and documentary program focusing on the disaster-stricken Lebanese Armenian Community. It featured refined TV newscasters hailing from various Armenian TV channels in the Greater Los Angeles area. A series of heartwarming presentations were made by Vruir Tadevosian of Horizon, Armine Amiryan of USArmenia, Mher Baghdasaryan of Pan Armenian TV and Varditer Grigoryan of ARTN. They were joined by various members of the community and organizational leaders.
One must also acknowledge the great efforts by many individuals and especially the youth. Dedicated donors are all genuinely appreciated as any amount of help is a welcome relief.
The program was broadcast on ARTN, USArmenia, Horizon and Pan Armenian television channels and was live-streamed through a number of online and social media outlets reaching tens of thousands of people.
The Telethon was organized in response to the dire needs of Lebanese Armenian community caused by a massive August 4 explosion/bombardment of the Port of Beirut that caused unprecedented devastation across the predominantly Chjristian East Beirut’s Gemmayze, Mar Mekhail, Khalil Badawi, Ashrafieh-Hayashen, Nahr areas and the Lebanese Armenian municipality of Bourj Hammoud. Like the rest of Lebanese, the Armenian community in Lebanon was exposed to its share of the wrath.
Hundreds of residential buildings sustained serious or irreparable damage or were entirely destroyed as hundreds lost their lives while thousands were injured. The August 4 national catastrophe came to compound the economic crisis that was already reeling as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Headlined “One Nation. One Future,” the telethon featured an impassioned pontifical message from His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, who directly appealed to the one-million-strong Western U.S. Armenian community. Western U.S. has an estimated Armenian population of between 1.2 million to 1.5 million. Some even estimate it to be nearly 1.7 million. The Western U.S. consists of the following states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. For the purposes of this article, let’s use the conservative figure of one milion as a basis for the telethon’s performance analysis.
The popular question now in circulation in Western U.S. Armenian community: “How much is the community really capable of raising annually for various great causes?”
When taking into consideration the affluence and the goodwill of the community at large, it is fair to expect that Western U.S. Armenians can easily raise several millions dollars annually for any worthy cause to benefit Armenia, Artsakh, or a sister Diaspora community like Lebanese Armenian and Syrian Armenian communities. With one condition: Transparency.
His Holiness Aram I first thanked the member organizations of the self-proclaimed Pan Armenian Council of Western U.S. and outlined the challenges facing the endangered Lebanese Armenians and Lebanon as a whole. The organizers announced that the entire raised funds “will be transferred to a unified body under the high auspices of Catholicos Aram I.”
Personal appeals were made by several representatives and leaders of the organizations that are part of the PAC-WUSA such as Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian; the Primate of the Western Diocese, Archbishop Hovnan Derderian; Reverend Berdj Jambazian of the Armenian Evangelical Church of North America; and Bishop Mikayel Mouradian, the leader of the Armenian Catholic Eparchy.
However the telethon has not garnered adequate support. Despite the announcement of the HyeAid Lebanon Telethon days after the explosion/bombardment of Chrisitan East Beirut, it failed to gain traction among the vast Western U.S. Armenian community.
A concerning development: Many firmly believe that “The Pan Armenian Council of Western U.S. (PAC-WUSA) miserably failed in meeting the widely expected goal $5 million, $10 million, $15 million or even $25 million-goal.”
The consolation: Independently of PAC-WUSA, literally hundreds of American Armenian individuals along with a number of other Armenian organizations have already sent to Lebanon an estimated $8 million. Many who have not participated in the PAC-WUSA’s HyeAid Lebanon Telethon, but vowed to continue their relief efforts through other channels.
There were some organizations that participated nominally for good PR.
Armenian Relief Society Western U.S. raised hundreds of thousands of dollars independently from PAC-WUSA, transferred the funds and distributed them to the real needy through its network of volunteers on the ground. During the telethon, ARS West donated a token amount of a mere $2,000.
Similarly, AMAA, which has also raised hundreds of thousands of dollars independently from PAC-WUSA, chose to go alone. Although an uneasy participant in PAC-WUSA, AMAA donated a token amount of $10,000.
Out of a Western U.S. Armenian population of 1 million, only about 1500 individuals and about 25 organizations and churches along with their chapters and parishes participated. A whopping 998,650 have not participated. Not because the non-participants were apathetic but because the so-called PAC-WUSA is led and controlled by two autocrats who are suffering from a huge credibility gap.
Of the $1,375,555 raised during the entire telethon, $1,223,870 was raised by organizing entities.
It would be safe to say that out of about 1,000,000 Armenians in Western U.S. a meger 1,500 entrusted their donations to PAC WUSA. Only one and one half of one tenth of a one percent or or 1,500 individuals participated. In other words, 99.85% or 998,500 Armenians declined to participate because of a credibility gap and a glaring lack of trust and transparency.
VIKEN HOVSEPIAN’S ARF BLOC $71,020
ARCH. MARDIROSSIAN’S WESTERN PRELACY $87,200
ARCH DERDERIAN’S WESTERN DIOCESE $59,400
INDEPENDENT ARMENIAN ORGANIZATIONS $484,550
INDEPENDENT NON-ARMENIAN ENTITIES $10,000
The PAC-WUSA-member organizations raised $712,170
See below list titled “THE ACTUAL BREAKDOWN.”
198 individuals each donated $500 and up $508,450
See below list titled “DONATIONS BY THE ENTOURAGE.”
General Armenian Public raised $151, 685
through donations coming from around 1,000 participants. The organisers promised to provide the complete list in 2-3 weeks.
The telethon was jointly organized by the so-called, Pan-Armenian Council of Western U.S. comprised of 24 Armenian organizations:
Armenian Assembly of America
Armenian Bar Association
Armenian Catholic Eparchy of Our Lady of Nareg of North America
Armenian Democratic Liberal Party Western District
Armenian General Benevolent Union, Western District
Armenian Evangelical Union of North America
Armenian Missionary Association of America
Armenian National Committee of America, Western Region
Armenian Relief Society of Western USA
Armenian Revolutionary Federation of Western USA
Armenian Society of Los Angeles – Iranahay Miutyun
Armenian Youth Association of California – Irakahay Miutyun
Armenian Youth Federation of Western USA
Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society of the Western USA
Homenetmen Western USA
Iraqi Armenian Family Association of Los Angeles
Kessab Educational Association
Organization of Istanbul Armenians
Service Employees International Union – Armenian Caucus
Southern California Armenian Democrats
Tekeyan Cultural Association
Unified Young Armenians
Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America
Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America
While the idea of lending a helping hand to Lebanese Armenian community is a noble idea, many members of the community were mindful as to who were the organisers. The big elephant in the room was and is that, “are the organisers trustworthy?” “Do they operate under a shield of transparency?” “Is the organization carrying the boisterous title ‘Pan Armenian Council’ truly popularly elected as the name implies?” Another timely question that came from a very wealthy member of the community: “What kind of shady characters are really hiding behind the façade of some of these 24 Armenian organizations?”
The participating organizations alone have enough resources to collectively raise annually over $25 million. But they only raised $1,223,870. (See below list titled “THE REAL POTENTIAL VS. ACTUAL”)
There are enough concerned individual Armenian donors in Western U.S. who could have participated and collectively raised an additional $25 million.
The big donors sat out or simply donated a small fraction of their real potential. For example, Joe Samuelian who could have donated $100,000 only donated $1,000. The reason? Lack of trust or bad financial situation because of Covid-19 pandemic? Of course there are many others among the current donors who like Samuelian declined to fully participate. There are thousands of others who didn’t participate at all. Why? Maybe a certain segment is negatively impacted by the current pandemic.
USA Armenian Life Magazine has contacted several community members. A great number stated that they declined to participate in PAC-WUSA telethon. Many of them stated that they have already donated a serious amount of funds through other reliable and trustworthy entities. USA Armenian Life Magazine editorial team has already started tabulating the independent donations. As of press time Friday, the independent donations made by Armenians in Western U.S. have exceeded the $8 million figure. Many have informed USA Armenian Life that they will continue donating independently from PAC WUSA in the coming days, weeks and months to the Lebanese Armenian community and other pressing charitable causes such as Armenia-Artsakh border village revitalization projects, Armenia repatriation, deceased Armenian soldiers’ funds and other worthy causes.
Several members of the community lamented that the so-called Pan Aremnain Council of Western U.S. is a big scheme and a ‘show’ staged by two autocrats – Armenian Revolutionary Federation Wesetrn U.S. autocrat Vicken Hovsepian and Western Diocese of Armenian Church autocrat primate Arch. Hovnan Derderian who has been involved in fraud, deception, and was caught red-handed in a U.S. Court as a flagrant liar through his deputy and spokesman Rev. Manouk Markarian.
All three Vicken Hovsepian, Arch. Derderian, Rev. Markarian have direct and indirect ties with Turkish Grey wolves and an international cartel headed jointly by Catholicos Karekin II, Arch. Derderian and Yezras of Moscow.
In Armenian there is a popular saying “Leruh Dzenav … Mook Muh.” (“A huge mountain gave birth to a … mouse.”) In other words, nearly one million Armenians of Western U.S. who have the potential to collectively raise several millions of dollars annually for worthy charitable causes, have only raised $1,375,555.
What would be a workable and a realistic solution: Make PAC-WUSA a democratic structure where the general Armenian population of Western U.S. votes in favor of an Elected Leadership.
Democracy facilitates checks and balances and ensures exponential increase in public trust. Autocracy undermines it.