NEW YORK – With the Armenian flag raised over the historic New York City’s Cunard building, 400 guests attended the sold-out 15th annual Children of Armenia Fund (COAF) Holiday Gala held on December 15th at Cipriani 25 Broadway. COAF announced a record fund-raising total for its 2018 Gala with over $4 million raised. The purpose of the event is to fund innovative programs in education, healthcare, social services, and economic development throughout rural Armenia. This will include the completion of the state-of-the-art COAF SMART Center campus, which will reach over 150,000 people and was recently visited by President Armen Sarkissian of Armenia. “It was a spectacular evening, and we are delighted by the support from the Diaspora as well as our global family who have demonstrated a deep sense of commitment to COAF’s mission over the last 15 years,” said Dr. Garo Armen, Founder of COAF. “We are energized by the evening’s outpouring of generosity and will be expanding our reach which now includes 44 rural communities impacting over 75,000 lives to over 100 communities impacting 150,000 lives. Furthermore, the peaceful revolution in April underscores COAF’s core values to bring about democracy and freedom to allow citizens to define their future. All this will result in accelerated innovation and economic growth. We feel a moral responsibility to provide the next generation with the tools, skills, and infrastructure to advance what has already started.”
A significance component of the evening was a live art auction guided by Gala Honorary Chair Tony Shafrazi, one of the art world’s most prominent figures, Shafrazi, an Iranian-born Armenian, rose to fame managing artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Donald Baechler, and Kenny Scharf. Renowned auctioneer Simon de Pury once again masterfully conducted the auction.
COAF ambassador Andrea Martin once again hosted this year’s gala. The Andrea Martin Performing Arts Auditorium located in the COAF SMART Center, was named after the Emmy and Tony Award winning Armenian-American actress in appreciation of her love and support for the children of Armenia.
Celebrity guests included Grammy-nominated singer Melody Gardot and Emmy-nominated actor Victor Garber. Gardot, a proponent of music therapy for children, learned about COAF’s work after performing at the Francophonie Summit held in Yerevan this year. Victor Garber, a past COAF award recipient who has taken part in several COAF galas, led the evening’s special tribute to the late French-Armenian iconic entertainer Charles Aznavour.
COAF’s Humanitarian Award was presented to Vartan Gregorian (president of the Carnegie Corporation) and his late wife Clare Gregorian, who was a founding COAF board member. Nine college scholarships were established for COAF youth in Armenia in appreciation of Clare Gregorian’s dedication.
Vartan Gregorian has served as an adviser to the COAF Board for several years. Prior to his current position, which he assumed in 1997, Gregorian served as the president of Brown University. He has been decorated by various governments, including over seventy honorary degrees.
Attendees also heard an inspiring speech from a young teenager by the name of Marina Mirzoyan from the COAF-supported village of Hatsik. Marina is currently a study exchange student in Colorado and has excelled in English Language programs offered at her local school. She spoke in gaining confidence and not being afraid to fail as a result of COAF’s impact on her life. The evening also featured performances by two teenaged musicians from Armenia. Armen Dagchinyan (piano) and Armen Daghents (Saxophone) moved guests with both classical and popular pieces.