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This year the Armenian Heritage Cruise (AHC) took place January 20 to January 27, 2019 aboard Royal Caribbean’s “Allure of the Seas”.  The AHC Committee honored the Knights and Daughters of Vartan by providing time to present a program during the cruise.  Members of the Knights and Daughters leadership in attendance were Grand Commander Dr. Gary Zamanigian, Grand Matron Diana Tookmanian, Past Grand Commander Bob Barsam and Past Grand Matron Sona Manuelian.  Special guests included Archbishop Khoren Toghramadjian, Prelate of Cypress and Prof. Taner Akcam, author of “The Killing Orders – Talaat Pasha’s Telegrams and the Armenian Genocide”.

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Daughters of Vartan Helps to Provide a Brighter Future for Armenian Youth

The Daughters of Vartan in partnership with the St. John’s Armenian Church Women’s Guild hosted a successful luncheon to raise funds for “Our Home-Mer Doon, Inc.”, and were honored by the presence of Mer Doon’s U.S. Program Director, Julie Ashekian, and Tigranoohi Karapetian, President (Armenia).

Grand Matron, Anita Arslanian announced that with the funds raised from this event, the Daughters of Vartan U.S. and Canadian Chapters have donated over $35,000 to Mer Doon since its inception in 2005.  Mer Doon provides a family environment for young women in Armenia who have outgrown their childhood home in Armenian orphanages, or who come from seriously disadvantaged lifestyles.  Because of Mer Doon, these young adults have the opportunity to become productive members of Armenian Society, instead of being forced to live far more devastating lives.

Julie Ashekian described Mer Doon’s mission and reported on the success to date in providing for the education, empowerment, development of leadership skills, and creating an environment of self-sufficiency and family – breaking the cycle of dependency for 11 young women, who are pursuing studies in languages, psychology, nursing, theatre, teaching, and law.  To qualify to join the Mer Doon family, the youth must agree to complete their education.  Two of the women are now married, which represents a significant break-through for female Armenians who were orphans.

President (Armenia) Tigranoohi Karapetian addressed those in attendance and extended heartfelt thanks.  U.S. Program Director Julie Ashekian noted that the Daughters of Vartan has been among the largest donors.  She said “It’s about giving hope, education, a home, and life!”

The Daughters of Vartan, which was founded 75 years ago in 1933, partners with the Knights of Vartan, which was founded in 1916. Both organizations encourage their members to assume leadership roles in cultural, educational, religious, and charitable organizations and activities on the local, national and international level for the betterment of the Armenian nation worldwide.  Information on the Daughters of Vartan can be found on the Knights and Daughters of Vartan website: Information on Our Home-Mer Doon, Inc. can be found at