MENK, Amaras Art Keep Badalian Going

By Tom Vartabedian

WATERTOWN — Whether it’s posting your calendar item or promoting a cultural venue, look no further than Tatoul Badalian.

He is a community catalyst who works in more ways than an Energizer bunny.

The calendar started in 2001, aptly named “MENK” which denotes togetherness and unity in a super-modified way. Anything you want posted can be found here under one convenient take. It has brought our splinter groups together and put us all together on more solid ground.

Badalian’s MENK keeps track of dozens of Armenian activities and passes them along to a readership of thousands.

“There was a time when we used to have one or two public events per week,” Badalian recalled. “Now, there are days where the options are far more abundant. As times change, so have we.”

Getting everybody’s notice any which way it comes and disseminating it into a more readable format each week takes organization when one considers all the churches and organizations in New England and the multifaceted roles they each play.

“You might say the calendar was a natural extension of my involvement in different community projects,” Badalian pointed out. “I think this is where the real fun is where you drive a sense of belonging.”

Badalian says our organizations are doing a great job of adding bells and whistles to their events, which keeps the calendar lively.

The on-line service he is using was recently enhanced with a new address: or you can Google it as in “MENK Calendar.” It continues to be published each Wednesday and remains under the umbrella of Hamazkayin-Boston.

“Volunteer work has always excited me and I’ve been involved with it ever since my high school days,” he tells us. “In the 1980s, we were raising children so I was not so involved. When I went back in the ’90s, things had changed.”

In 1990, on came Amaras Art Alliance, which will soon celebrate its 25th anniversary.

Aside from supporting aspiring performers to achieve their potential, Amaras creates opportunities to observe, get involved and enjoy the traditions and customs of our diverse culture — from folk to fine art.

“To fulfill our mission, we organize events, activities and programs in the sphere of arts and education,” Badalian confirms. “The core remains dedicated to the performing arts with a keen focus on children. While we embrace the beauty and charm of all cultures, our spotlight is on the heritage of the Armenian and American people.”

Over the past decade alone, more than 50 programs have been organized under the Amaras name. Badalian calls it a “microcosm” of the community’s cultural life. The name is derived from an old Armenian monastery in Nagorno-Karabagh where Mesrob Mashtots founded Armenia’s first school.

Today, Amaras works with professional artists and musicians in getting them established and entrenched into everyday life. Badalian remains the webmaster running and invites readers to take a peek.

A huge concentration is placed upon Erebouni Dance School for children with a dynamic director, Arman Mnatsakanyan, who yearns to build this into one of the country’s finest ensembles.

Recently, there was a concert performed by talented children at Longy School of Music in Cambridge, followed a week later by an evening of songs and poems. Featured was talented singer Margar Yeghiazarian, composer Gegham Margarian, poet Avik Derents and Ani Avakian Arakelian, noted for her interpretation of Armenian poems.

“There was a time when you could not keep me from participating in a good picnic, both as a worker and one who enjoyed the delicious food,” said Badalian. “Today, I’m working on a more serious area although I still go and have my shish kebobs at fairs and bazaars.”

The more serious side is the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry, where Badalian has become a true crusader for the cause.

Right now, his priority is the Walk of Life on September 27 in Watertown to help the Armenian Bone Marrow Registry. For the third year, Badalian has taken an initiative to sound the call for help.

“I call this serious because blood-related disorders such as leukemia have devastating effects upon families and entire communities,” he says. “This particular cause fights to find stem cell matches for those in need. Being an Armenian actually helps because it is easier to find a match among your ethnic group. ABMDR is a global player. It is one of the unique organizations where Armenians and Diaspora meet on equal footing and represent all Armenians of the world.”

Badalian has the unbridled support of his wife Varteni and daughter Narini. Both have done their share over the years and have been a very integral component of these endeavors.

“We’ve come a long way since those days we went around putting flyers on car windshields in getting the word out to people,” he reflects. “And it is only getting bigger and better in this age of technology.”

Badalian also makes available his personal e-mail address — [email protected] — because it lets him respond quickly to requests and questions.