NEW YORK — On Thursday December 16 2010, supporters of the Children of Armenia Fund (COAF) raised more than $1.5 million which will go to support the second phase of a school renovation in the village of Miasnikian in Armenian.
The fund will also help the ongoing programs of COAF.
This seventh annual gala, held at the spectacular Temple of Dendur in the The Sackler Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art gathered about 300 guests who enthusiastically demonstrated their continuing commitment themselves to COAF’s cause, education, health and economic development in the ten villages in which the organization has worked over the past six years.
Emmy and Tony award winning Armenian actress Andrea Martin, a long-time COAF supporter, again entertained the audience and emceed the event.
Performances by children and young people–The Broadway Youth Ensemble, 13 year old actor/vocalist Kyle Alexander Brenn, and Sirena Huang, the 15 year old violinist– highlighted the program. It was three little girls from Armenia, however, who brought the crowd to its feet and tears to many eyes. Miracle, a choir form the COAF sponsored village of Miasnikian, consists of eight-year old Silva Baghdasaryan, Tatyana Hmayakyan, and Siranush Boyajian, whose voices are angelic and nearly pitch perfect. Having never been on an airplane before, they traveled to New York the day before the event and confidently and movingly sang the Armenian song Yerevan Dartsats im Erebuni, and then obliged the enthusiastic crowd with an encore.
Honoring Philanthropic Excellence
COAF also honored two esteemed philanthropists during the gala. the 2010 Benefactor Award was given to Gerard Cafesjian, a longtime and generous supporter of Armenian causes.
Ambassador John Evans, spoke on Mr. Cafesjian’s behalf. The late Paul Newman was memorialized through dedication of COAF’s 2010 Humanitarian Award. Annual grants from Newman’s Own Foundation have allowed COAF to establish and maintain a thriving photo and video club that has broadened the horizons of all its participants.
Mark McEwen, author, journalist and former CBS News personality spoke of his interactions with the remarkable Mr. Newman.
The evening’s guest speakers were Dr. Vartan Gregorian, President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Mr. Michael Aram, artist and entrepreneur, and Dr. Helen Evans, the Mary and Michael Jahari’s Curator for Byzantine Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Dr. Gregorian appealed to guests’ sense of philanthropic duty. He noted that two-thirds of Armenians now reside outside of Armenia and highly successful Armenians are present in every field of endeavor. He reminded the guests that with great wealth comes great responsibility and the opportunity to help those less fortunate. COAF board member Michael Aram spoke with passion and emotion about his recent trip to Armenia, and Dr, Evans educated attendees about the history of the Temple of Dendur and the notable Armenian art pieces currently residing int he The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Accomplishment and Future Plans of COAF
Since it began operations in 2004, COAF has brought vastly improved education, health care and community services to 22,000 people in the Armavir marz district in Armenia, working closely with the local residents to determine what is needed and to build self-sufficiency.
Dr. Garo Armen, Founder & Chairman of COAF, expressed his deep gratitude to the attendees for their ongoing support and updated them on COAF’s most recent achievements. He particularly focused on recent progress within the school in Miasnikian. Before COAF began to rebuild and refurbish it, it was a decaying facility lacking electricity, indoor plumbing and window glass throughout. Despite that, nearly 700 children attended classes there daily. Now it has been partially refurbished and the contrast between the before and after is striking.
To ensure that the project is completed expeditiously, C. Hugh Hildesley, Executive Vice-President of Sotheby’s, conducted a rousing auction that gave attendees the opportunity to make donations at various levels, sponsoring specific classrooms, school facilities, or support functions. This project auction was a tremendous success, contributing more then $700,000 to the evening’s fund-raising total.