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The celebrated restaurant owner and chef José Andrés describes Las Vegas as a celebration. From July 10th through the 13th some 230 Knights and Daughters of Vartan did just that, celebrated at their Grand Convocation. For the Knights of Vartan, it was their 101st Avak Tahlij while the Daughters of Vartan marked their 79th Kerakouyn Zhoghov. This year’s Grand Convocation was hosted by Fresno, California’s Yeprad Lodge No. 9 and Alidz Chapter No. 8 with help from other California lodges as well as those from Chicago and Washington D.C. The site of this year’s gathering was Harrah’s Hotel and Resort, located on Las Vegas’ famous strip.

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International Humanitarian, Baroness Cox honored by the Daughters of Vartan Grand Council

The Right Honorable the Baroness Caroline Cox of Queensbury, member of the British House of Lords, was welcomed to the Detroit Metropolitan area by the Daughters of Vartan Grand Council on April 21st at St. Johns Armenian Church Cultural Center, Southfield, Michigan. The Reception was held in conjunction with Oakland University School of Nursing, which has established The Baroness Cox Endowed Chair of Global Health and Social Studies.

The afternoon Reception was hosted by Anita Arslanian, Grand Matron of the Daughters of Vartan Grand Council, her 6 Grand Officers and the members of the Detroit Zabelle Chapter of the Daughters of Vartan. Over 150 guests were present to welcome Lady Cox on the first of 3 official events in the Detroit area.

Rev. Fr. Garabed Kochakian, Pastor of St. John’s Armenian Church welcomed Lady Cox, Lee Miller, President of HART, The Hon. Brenda Lawrence Mayor of Southfield, MI and Dean Linda Thompson Adams, Dean of Oakland University School of Nursing. In attendance were Oakland University faculty and staff, Armenian Clergy, Southfield City Councilmen, Southfield City Clerk Nancy Malkasian Banks, members of the greater Detroit Armenian community and Knights and Daughters of Vartan.

Lady Cox spoke eloquently about her experiences in Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia. She has made 67 trips since the early 1990s. Once she witnessed the dire need of the Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, she rapidly geared up to provide humanitarian aid. She spoke highly of the strength and dignity of the Armenian people during their time of adversity – “Armenians create beauty from the ashes of destructions.” She said the nurse’s motto is “I must be concerned for all Humanity.” As a nurse herself, she is dedicated to work with people to help themselves. She speaks for people who cannot speak for themselves – people who are off the radar screen, not reached by major organizations. She formed the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART) to carry out her work. She said “I cannot do everything, but I must not do nothing.”

Anita Arslanian, Grand Matron, on behalf of the Daughters of Vartan and in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the organization, presented Lady Cox the first Daughters of Vartan Grand Council Humanitarian of the Year Award to thank her on behalf of all Armenians for her humanitarian work in Armenia. She also presented to Lady Cox a $5,000 donation from the Detroit Knights and Daughters of Vartan and the Grand Council for the Baroness Cox Endowed Chair of Global Health and Social Studies at Oakland University School of Nursing. It is Baroness Cox’s goal to elevate the status of nursing professionals in Armenia. To that end, Oakland University and the American University of Armenia have established a partnership and an exchange program between their schools of nursing. The exchange program is scheduled to begin in the fall 2009.

As a gift of remembrance, the Grand Council gave Lady Cox a gold pin symbolizing Lady Cox’s organization – HART and the Daughters of Vartan – a gold heart with a white gold lily. The pin was designed and handcrafted by Mirican Arslanian, a Knight of Vartan.

At the Thursday, April 22nd Banquet at Oakland University’s Meadow Brook Hall, Dr. Linda Thompson Adams, Dean of Oakland University School of Nursing announced the creation of the University’s REACH Institute (Research, Education and Advocacy for Children’s Health) and the endowed Baroness Caroline Cox chair. Dr. Adams introduced Baroness Cox as “this humanitarian, nurse extraordinaire and Nobel Peace Prize candidate.”

Lady Cox is known for her international humanitarian work. As Chief Executive of HART (The Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust), Baroness Cox’s work in the field of humanitarian aid has taken her on many missions to conflict zones.  She has undertaken 67 visits to the Armenian enclave of Nagorno Karabakh and has established the only Rehabilitation Centre in the Stepanakert. Other humanitarian missions consist of many visits to Africa including Sudan and Nigeria; the Karen, Karenni and Chin peoples in the jungles of Burma; and to communities suffering from conflict in Indonesia. She has also visited North Korea helping to promote parliamentary initiatives and medical programs. She was instrumental in helping to change the former Soviet Union policies for orphaned and abandoned children from institutional to foster family care.

Lady Cox was Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords from 1985 to 2005 and is currently a cross-bench peer (Independent Member of the House of Lords).  From 1985 to 1986 she served as a Baroness-in-Waiting to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Baroness Cox currently serves as Vice President of the Royal College of Nursing. She has also supported disability causes for many years. She is a Member of the World Committee on Disability and a Judge for the Franklin Delano Roosevelt International Disability Award.  In 2004, she was appointed a Special Rapporteur by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office for Religious Freedom and Belief.