Knights of Vartan 56th Annual Vartanantz Gala Raises Funds for Chambarak Kindergarten in Armenia

Posted on February. 18. 2024

Editor’s note: Below is a special correspondence for USA Armenian Life by writer and reporter Nataline Halladjian. She attended the Knights of Vartan 56th Annual Vartanantz Gala to cover the event. Out of modesty, she abstained from mentioning it. But we must register the fact that the opening prayer of the successful banquet was performed by the independent Holy Cross Armenian Apostolic Church of Upland founding Pastor Rev. Kevork Halladjian. Rev. Kevork Halladjian happens to be her father. 


Special to USA Armenian Life News Co. 

Los Angeles, CA – Feb. 4, 2024 — The 56th annual Vartanantz Gala, hosted by the Knights of Vartan (KofV) Tri-lodge Council, took place on Sun., Feb. 4, 2024 in Glendale at the Renaissance Banquet Hall. This gathering brought together American Armenians and various American public officials from across Southern California for a philanthropic cause. The Tri-lodge, comprising Ardaz Lodge No. 17 (Los Angeles), Sevan Lodge No. 28 (San Fernando Valley), and Ghevont Lodge No. 26 (Pasadena/Glendale), held the event to raise funds for the renovation of a Kindergarten in Chambarak, Armenia – a town situated just three miles from the Azerbaijan border. 

Chambarak, now a refuge for many displaced Artsakhtsis, faces the challenge of providing essential resources to encourage refugees to stay in Armenia rather than seeking asylum abroad. The school in Chambarak is grappling with depleted resources, and the Knights of Vartan have made a steadfast commitment to addressing this urgent need. 

Former Montebello Mayor Jack Hadjinian, serving as the master of ceremonies, set the tone for an evening marked by camaraderie and generosity. Armen Aroyan, a highly-regarded Armenian heritage tour guide, was honored during the gala for his exceptional contributions to preserving and sharing Armenian culture with fellow Armenians and Knights alike. Los Angeles City Council President Paul Krekorian delivered a powerful keynote address, underscoring the importance of supporting initiatives that strengthen communities and contribute to the well-being of Armenia. 

Krekorian’s keynote highlighted the significance of the Chambarak Kindergarten project as well as the pivotal role of diaspora communities in maintaining momentum. Krekorian’s words resonated: “When we see that catastrophe, it’s very easy for us in the diaspora to lose our morale and feel this great sense of defeat… But I’m sorry, you don’t have the luxury of self-pity. We do not have the right to stop fighting because of this setback. And this organization more than any other should understand that difficult times don’t stop us.” 

The founders of the KofV, Armenians who sought refuge in America upon fleeing the 1915-1923 Turkish-executed Armenian Genocide, were frequently alluded to. Initially shrouded in secrecy, the fraternal group has evolved into a transparent, inclusive, and impactful brotherhood dedicated to making a positive difference in Armenia and among Armenians in America. In recent years, the KofV has consciously worked towards recruiting members and making their deeds more public. 

Levon Thorose, Commander of Ardaz Lodge and liaison between the Knights of Vartan and agents in Armenia, drew parallels between the current struggles of Armenians in Armenia and Artsakh and the historic “Battle of Avarayr” (451 AD). He emphasized the need for sustained commitment to cultivating and preserving robust municipalities, particularly at the border. Thorose stressed the importance of recruiting members from the Diaspora to sustain the organization’s momentum, stating, “Diaspora is quickly losing a lot of young people by assimilation. And it’s quiet, it’s soundless, and the loss is more than the loss of soldiers in the Artsakh war.” 

The sold-out event not only celebrated Armenian heritage but also exemplified the power of collective action in supporting communities in need. The Knights of Vartan showcased their unwavering commitment to service and philanthropy, highlighting the critical role of Diaspora involvement in supporting Armenia and Artsakh during challenging times. 

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