AWWA Hosts Successful 35th Annual Luncheon


Cindy Fitzgibbon, FOX 25 News, and Jordan Rich, WBZ News Radio, with Mistress of Ceremonies Janet Jeghelian

By Alin K. Gregorian
Mirror-Spectator Staff

BURLINGTON, Mass. — Close to 300 supporters of the Armenian Women’s Welfare Association (AWWA) turned out for a luncheon on November 13 at the Burlington Marriott Hotel. The luncheon was the group’s 35th.

Money raised from the luncheons support the AWWA’s two projects, the Armenian Nursing and Rehabilitation Center (ANRC) in Jamaica Plain, the only area nursing home geared toward Armenian residents, and the Elderly Project in Nagorno Karabagh, where AWWA helps 200 persons over the age of 63 who live alone receive food, medicine and counseling.

Said Karen Hovsepian, who served on the Luncheon Auction Committee, “It is very heart-warming to see so many generations of dedicated women who attend our Annual Luncheon Auction year after year and support our organization, AWWA. By their attendance, these individuals support us in providing outstanding care to our residents at the only Armenian Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in New England, and empower us to continue the elderly project in Stepanakert, where, we are helping over 200 elderly, who are living alone, by receiving daily nutrition as well as much needed social and medical care.”

Also serving on the committee were Karen Diranian, Brenda Khederian and Cheryl Panjian.

Emcee Janet Jeghelian did an admirable job in introducing all the speakers. She said that she had been attending the luncheons since 1980 and that she was thrilled to be at the 35th such luncheon.

Karla Fleming, the executive director of the nursing home, said she wanted to recognize the families of many residents both current and in the past. “Thank you so much for your support, for our deserving elder people,” she said.

Lalig Musserian, who said she was the newest member of the AWWA, addressed the audience in both English and Armenian, before showing a short video on the group’s work both in Boston and in Karabagh. She noted that the luncheons in the past 35 years have netted more than $1 million to benefit the ANRC, which was founded in 1948.

The AWWA’s outreach in Karabagh started in 1994.

Musserian praised the nursing home’s state- of-the-art medical care and rehabilitation equipment, as well as the high quality of the food for the seniors. She also singled out Siran Salibian, the ANRC’s activities director, for creating a fun atmosphere for the seniors.

Cindy Fitzgibbon of Fox25 Morning News, and Jordan Rich, of WBZ News Radio 1030, were the guest auctioneers. The two bantered lightly, with Rich often prodding the audience to bid higher, which resulted in a very successful auction.

Several of the items in the live auction were sports-related; those were the ones that netted the highest figures. A basketball donated by the Boston Celtics, which was autographed by the members of the 2009-2010 team, fetched $850 in a fierce bidding war. Other items in the auction were two luxury box tickets to the New England Patriots on November 21, a table for six guests at the Armenian Night at the Pops in June, tickets to the Boston Celtics, an overnight stay at the Burlington Marriott with breakfast for two, an orchid planter and a four-foot giraffe and chimpanzee.

Two large rooms were filled with an array of items which guests bid on before the start of the luncheon. They featured everything from baskets to jewelry, foods, gifts geared toward men and wines.

Finally, raffle tickets were sold. Items included gold and diamond earrings, gold, a garnet and diamond pendant, a Coach gift card and gift certificates to a variety of restaurants.

The AWWA was started in 1915 in Boston by nine Armenian women who came together to form a non-profit group that would focus on aiding and promoting the moral, intellectual, physical and social well-being of the community. The group was initially named the Armenian Patriotic Society. The women helped orphans through Near East Relief and shipped them clothing and supplies. Later, they shifted their focus to immigrants new to the US. By 1930, they renamed themselves the Armenian Women’s Welfare Association and provided fuel, clothing and other necessities to Armenians in the US who were suffering as a result of the Great Depression. In 1948 the group founded the first Home for the Aged in Jamaica Plain. In 1960, the AWWA built the Armenian Nursing Home and in 1996 they renamed it the Armenian Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.