On June 9, 2012 in front of a patriotic gathering of members, supporters and well wishers, Homenetmen of New York celebrated its 35th anniversary. It was on January 29, 1977 that then Archbishop Karekin Sarkissian (later ordained Catholicos Karekin I) officially marked the opening of the Homenetmen chapter in New York. Some of the same members present that day in 1977 were once again present to mark this historic moment. Many of today’s members were children back then and were a part of the opening ceremonies as scouts. Today, these same members are part of the executive committee, scout leaders, and coaches. While we have all grown older, we have remained active members of Homenetmen of New York.
After a cocktail hour at Verdi’s of Westbury, the evening’s festivities were kicked off by the entrance of the New York scouts body, marching in and presenting the flags. After the national anthems and “haratch nahadagh” were sung the night’s MC, Yeghpayr Simon Bardizbanian introduced New York’s chairman (adenabed) Yeghpayr Vicken Shekookian. Yeghpayr Shekookian welcomed the members and supporters with a speech and thanked them for their support over the years. A moment of silence was also observed for all New York members who had passed away over the years. Yeghpayr Shekookian also reminded the crowd that Homenetmen’s motto of “Partsratsir ou Partsratsour” remains true to its goal and needs to be continued with the next generation of members. Yeghpayr Simon Bardizbanian then introduced his Grace Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian; vicar general of the Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America, who congratulated Homenetmen of New York on its 35 years of hard work and continued dedication towards the Armenian Youth of New York.
The joyous event was then handed off to Zareh Kasbarian and his band from Washington D.C. The crowd enjoyed the atmosphere, coming together on the dance floor and having a great time. Many were please to be in attendance as the music was entertaining and the crowd continued to encourage Zareh Kasbarian and his band by keeping the dance floor full. Many thanks and appreciation is given to the band by all as they kept us all moving.
Once the band took their first break, Yeghpayr Simon Bardizbanian returned to the microphone and introduced two of New York’s founding members, Yeghpayner Hanig Meshevejian and Vartkes Vartanian. Yeghpayr Vartanian took a moment to comment on the years of hard work and dedication by all members of the chapter and brought attention to the revitalized scouting program headed by Yeghpayrner Levon Shamlian and Hovsep Minassian. New York’s executive committee cannot thank these members enough for the continued hard work and support.
Next on the agenda was the presentation of various awards and recognitions. New York’s chapter dedicated three annual awards in 1997, the “Hratch Chalian Memorial Trophy” for Basketball Player of the Year, the “Arshag Boyajian Memorial Trophy” for Football/Soccer Player of the Year and the “Garbis Der Mesrobian Memorial Trophy” for Member of the Year.
Athletic Director Yeghpayr Ari Minassian presented the “Hratch Chalian Memorial Trophy” to the 2011 recipient, Yeghpayr Garen Spendjian. Yeghpayr Spendjian has also been selected as a member of the Armenian National Men’s Basketball Team currently coached by a former New York member and athlete, Yeghpayr Carl Bardakian.
The “Arshag Boyajian Memorial Trophy” was presented to long time member and 2011 winner Yeghpayr Razmig Nenejian. While Yeghpayr Nenejian had won the same award in 2003 he had originally started with New York’s Junior Basketball team. His skill set was better suited to soccer and became an integral part of the current roster.
Yeghpayr Vicken Shekookian then presented the “Garbis Der Mesropian Memorial Trophy” to Yeghpayr Sarkis Jamgotchian. Yeghpayr Jamgotchian started as a scout, played basketball and soccer, and as a current member of the executive committee put in long hours as the organizer of the Anniversary celebration.
In addition to the annual awards, New York’s executive committee had decided to hang a new plaque in their office. This plaque will honor of all previous honorees and will be a “Hall of Fame” for our chapter. Five members and their families were surprised that evening with this honor. The plaque presented to them reads: “Presented to —, in recognition of your exceptional service, dedication, devotion and commitment to Homenetmen of New York”.
The first of five inducted to the “Hall of Fame” was Archpriest Der Moushegh Der Kaloustian – the priest who opened the doors of St. Illuminator’s Armenian Apostolic Cathedral in 1977 and welcomed Homenetmen, and over the years has striven to make Homenetmen a success in New York.
Also inducted to this special club was Yeghpayr Stephan Andonian who started as a cub scout in 1977, played basketball, volleyball, and soccer, and has even been a member of our executive committee. Over the years Yeghpayr Andonian has led New York’s football team as their top goalkeeper, later representing New York as an all-star of the US Eastern Region twice in world Homenetmen games in Canada and Lebanon.
Yeghpayr Simon Bardizbanian was also a cub scout in 1977 and is the current vice-chairman. His many years of dedicated service to Homenetmen first as a cub scout, then a member of the football, basketball, and volleyball teams teams for over 30 years and his many years of work as an executive committee member make him a well deserved recipient.
The fourth honoree was Yeghpayr Eddie Shamlian, again starting as a cub scout in 1977 and continuing to become a scout. Yeghpayr Shamlian started playing basketball for New York at 14 years of age and remains a member of the men’s team as a player/coach. Yeghpayr Shamlian has represented New York as member of the US Eastern Region’s Men’s Basketball Team in 2009. He continues to provide leadership to our basketball teams, a skill he learned as a scout.
The last honoree of the evening was a surprise to all who were gathered including the honoree himself. Yeghpayr Garo Anastasian has been and remains Homenetmen of New York’s soccer program leader and director from 1977 to present. Yeghpayr Anastasian has coached numerous teams from juniors all the way to veterans and many of his players have gone on to represent the US Eastern Region as all-stars in World Homenetmen Games. Yeghpayr Anastasian has been an executive committee member for 25 years and has always shied away from being recognized. However, the executive committee decided to honor him without his knowledge. Yeghpayr Anastasian was taken aback and humbly accepted this long deserved recognition.
The night’s entertainment and dancing continued with music from Paul Baghdadlian Jr who was making his first ever performance in the Eastern US. Many were in excited anticipation as he took the stage and delivered a high quality performance. The crowd was kept energized and enthused throughout the evening. All in attendance were happy and thankful to witness Paul Baghdadlian Jr’s performance and can’t wait for his next appearance in this area.
The evening’s event came to its climax when Zareh and Paul joined together in singing Armenian Patriotic songs. The crowd supported both singers and encouraged them to continue until our time was done.
The executive committee of Homenetmen wishes to thank all in attendance; members, supporters, and friends as well as the entertainers and organizers for providing a special night for all.
On January 28th, the New York Troop traveled to the U.S. Capital in Washington DC where they where joined by several members of the Washington Troop.
They Visited and toured the U.S. Capital Building, Visited the Armenian Embassy and spent some time in the offices of the Armenian National Committee of America. The kids participated in several mock debates and negotiations after which they where served refreshments.
Later, the two troops spent the night getting to know each other. Both troops camped at Soorp Khatch Armenian Church. They where served dinner and drinks and spent several hours playing games and discussing differences in scouting.
Sunday morning everyone got up and cleaned up the sleeping in a very organized manner. The 2 troops attended a special session of church planned specially for the scouts. After services everyone was served breakfast and said their goodbyes till the Regional Camp in August.
We drove by the National Mall for one last look at the Monuments and then we head north.
Homenetmen of New York would like to thank Soorp Khatch Church and all the members of the Washington Troop.
They took great care of us and both troops had a great time visiting interesting places in Washington and spending time getting to know each other.
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