The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR) took its “Centennial Activism and Beyond” Town Halls to the states of Washington and Oregon past weekend to educate and energize the states’ small but vibrant communities on Armenian American issues. Lead by ANCA-WR’s San Francisco-based Chief Legislative Consultant Haig Baghdassarian and Denver-based Community Development Coordinator Simon Maghakyan, the townhalls were also coupled with meetings with various congressional offices in both states.
The October 3 Seattle area Town Hall was held at the beautiful Holy Resurrection Armenian Apostolic Church in Redmond, where over a dozen local activists and community leaders discussed with Baghdassarian and Maghakyan issues of importance to their community. The ANCA-WR representatives then traveled to Oregon for the October 4 Portland area Town Hall, held at the historic St. Kevork Armenian Apostolic Church in Clackamas where they were greeted by enthused community members ready to get to work to advance the cause in the Beaver state.
“We enjoyed having ANCA visit the Armenians of Seattle and educate us on current Armenian issues and priorities,” remarked local ANCA activist Vana Mahserejian Tavitian. “It was an eye opening for each one of us on the role of Armenian Americans and how we can be more productive within our communities. We are more energized to know that with the help of ANCA our voices as Washington Armenians can be heard.”
“I am glad that ANCA has our community’s back and visited us to share first-hand information on Armenian American issues,” remarked ANCA activist Lala Yerem. “I look forward to getting more involved and helping advance our cause in Oregon.”
ANCA-WR’s representatives briefed the Washington and Oregon communities on current national priorities, including support for Artsakh’s security and independence, aid for Syrian Armenians, and elimination of double taxation between Armenia and USA. Baghdassarian further answered questions about each priorities and detailed strategies of building and cultivating long-term relations with our elected officials, while Maghakyan presented examples of regional projects to further empower the community, such as HyeVotes registration and Armenian Genocide education and awareness through the ANCA-WR America We Thank You initiative.
Prior to and after each townhall meeting, Baghdassarian and Maghakyan, along with local constituents, held six congressional meetings in both states. Baghdassarian was also honored to be joined by constituent and former diplomat Robert Farquhar, who served as US Consul to Armenia, to meet with the office of Congressman Earl Blumenauer.
Among other issues of concerns to Armenian Americans, congressional offices were informed of the Royce-Engel letter. This direct Congressional appeal to the Obama Administration, which demands accountability, calls for an end to artificial evenhandedness, and offers a constructive alternative: an accountability-based approach to peacekeeping that calls out and confronts the actual perpetrator of violence. Elected officials were also educated about House Concurrent Resolution 75, which requests support for Syrian Christians, and the Armenian Genocide Truth and Justice Resolution. Congressional staff were particularly interested in their state’s support for Armenian Genocide victims through the Near East Relief supports.
Since January 2015, ANCA-WR has already held Town Halls, Advocacy Days, and other community-building events in the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Washington. Town Hall meetings are led by ANCA-WR senior personnel and Executive Board members, who provide attendees with an overview of the organization, its priorities, and recent developments affecting Armenian-Americans, Armenia and Artsakh. Following those brief remarks, attendees have an opportunity to ask questions, raise concerns, make suggestions and most importantly learn about ways to become involved locally.
“It has been at the forefront of our regional priorities to ensure that we are providing the much needed support and resources to communities, not just in Los Angeles or California, but really throughout the western united states. Our townhall meetings in the last year have resulted in multiple new local chapters and an unprecedented level of grassroots activism, which shows what a difference a group of dedicated individuals can make, despite the size of the community they live in,” stated Executive Director, Elen Asatryan. “We thank our grassroots and look forward to building on these successes as we continue to serve and expand our efforts within the region and beyond for our common cause,” added Asatryan.
To get involved with your local ANCA-WR chapter, send an email to Simon@ancawr.org.
The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.
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