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LATEST NEWS

03/02/2018

On Sunday afternoon, February 25, 2018, over 125 people gathered at St. Peter Armenian Apostolic Church, in Watervliet, N.Y., to hear keynote speaker Mr. Donald Tellalian give a presentation on “How We Built The Park.” read more >


National Programs

Knights and Daughters of Vartan are involved in numerous programs for the Armenian community in local, national and international levels. Major programs are as follows:

Armenian Schools Support Project – World Bank ASIF 90/10 Program

In 1993, the Knights and Daughters of Vartan, Inc. initiated to financially assist the public schools in the Republic of Armenia. It was known as the “Adopt A School Project”. (AASP) During those early years of independence, the Republic of Armenia did not have the resources to adequately fund the needs of its public school system. With inadequate teacher salaries, deteriorated conditions of school facilities and lack of school supplies, helping schools in Armenia was a very worthwhile endeavor for the Knights and Daughters of Vartan.

Past Commander Jack Medzorian of Ararat Lodge #1, Boston, Massachusetts, was appointed as the first chairman of the AASP. A minimum of $500 per year for a three (3) year commitment was required for sponsorship of a school. In the next five (5) years, over $150,000 was raised from the Knights and Daughters of Vartan and friends of the Knights and Daughters of Vartan and over 100 schools throughout Armenia were assisted.

In the fall of 1997, Past Commander Jack Medzorian resigned as chairman to devote more time to the new programs assisting Armenia initiated by the Sister Cities Program of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Past Commander Levon Karakashian of Yeprad Lodge #9, Fresno, California, was appointed as the succeeding chairman of the AASP.

All administrative costs for the AASP Program were borne by its committee members so that 100% of monies contributed to the program went to the school of the sponsor’s choice. This program proved successful for the ensuing five years. In 1998, due to inflation and the devaluing of the currency of Armenia, $500 had less purchasing power than it did in 1993 when the program began. It was determined that the committee members who were traveling to Armenia to disperse the funds were spending more of their money for travel, lodging and transportation then they were distributing.

Realizing the growing dilemma, members of the AASP Committee began investigating the possibility of other ways to continue assisting the schools in Armenia that would have a greater impact. In the fall of 1998, Grand Commander Simon Javizian, Past Grand Commander Charles Tateosian and AASP Chairman Past Commander Levon Karakashian traveled to Armenia and contacted Mr. Ashot Kirakosyan, Executive Director of the Armenian Social Investment Fund (ASIF) and inquired about a forth-coming program involving the World Bank. The ASIF is an entity funded by the World Bank, operating in conjunction with the government of the Republic of Armenia to conduct the oversight work necessary in the construction and supervision of a variety of projects.One year later, the World Bank announced a program for Armenia. The World Bank designated $30 million dollars for use in school rehabilitation and water projects throughout the communities of Armenia. The World Bank program matches each dollar raised by the community with nine (9) additional dollars toward a specific project, through the ASIF. This constitutes a nominal 10% contribution from each community or school. Thus, our involvement with the World Bank ASIF 90/10 Program began.

In April of 2000, the AASP Committee pledged to the ASIF that the Knights and Daughters of Vartan would raise $500,000 over the next five years to rebuild and renovate as many schools in Armenia as possible. The funds would be utilized to meet the 10% Community Contribution requirement for the ASIF Program. It was understood at that time that our involvement would be only for the rehabilitation of the schools and not water projects. And in conjunction with the Adopt A School Project, the Knights and Daughters of Vartan Armenian Schools Support Project (ASSP) World Bank ASIF 90/10 Program was established with Past Commander Levon Karakashian as its first chairman, a position he still retains. In 2001, the ASIF recommended to the Government of Armenia that Past Commander Levon Karakashian, representing the Knights and Daughters of Vartan, Inc. should occupy the only non-resident seat on the Board of Directors of the Armenian Social Investment Fund. It was proposed to the Parliament and ratified by the President of the Republic of Armenia, Mr. Robert Kocharian.

Fund raising toward the $500,000 began by the Lodges and their corresponding Daughters of Vartan Chapters. Foundations, corporations and individuals other then members of the Brotherhood and Sisterhood have also participated in the program.

In six years (6) years, the Knights and Daughters of Vartan have transferred over one million dollars ($1,000,000) in the support of the new construction or the renovation of 135 school projects throughout Armenia. This is double what our original commitment was to the ASIF in the year 2000. We have presently committed to an additional 11 school projects with projected construction costs of $175,000.

It must be noted here for clarity in how the funds designated for the 90/10 Program are managed. ALL monies are forwarded to the Knights of Vartan Grand Council, where they in turn deposit the funds in a separate account for the ASSP. When we commit to a school project in the ASIF 90/10 Program, we wait until all of the preliminary plan checks have been made, plans finalized, contracts issued and construction is to begin before the Knights of Vartan Grand Treasurer transfers the required funds into an account that has been established in Yerevan, Armenia by the ASIF. At no time are there any administrative costs applied to the ASSP money received other than the nominal transfer fee required by the banks transferring the money from the United States to the ASIF account in Yerevan, Armenia. All costs incurred in the administration of the ASSP, as well as travel to and from Armenia, lodging, travel within Armenia, meals and other expenses by the ASSP Committee, is absorbed by each ASSP Committee Member.

Members of the ASSP Committee are continually traveling to Armenia to review the progress of the 90/10 Program and attend the dedications of completed school projects that we have supported. (The World Bank is considered the Sponsor of a project with their 90% contribution, and we, the Knights and Daughters of Vartan, are considered the Supporter of the project with our 10% contribution)

In September of 2005, the World Bank announced that Phase I and Phase II of their initial plan has been completed and due to the success of the program in Armenia, the World Bank was committing to continue the 90/10 Program from 2006 through 2001 for Phase III. The funding for Phase III will be transferred to the ASIF in Armenia in the third quarter of 2006.

Update, January 01, 2015:
To date, the Knights and Daughters of Vartan and friends of the Knights and Daughters of Vartan, have supported the building of new or the renovation of 221 ASIF School Projects. We have also supported the establishing of potable water in two villages, established a Community Center in two villages and supported the renovation of the Aram Khachaturian Museum in Yerevan.

The Avak Tivan’s in office during the past 14 years have transferred a combined $2,364,248.56 to the World Bank ASIF account in the HSBC bank in Yerevan.  This has resulted in $26,487,115.60 of construction work performed.

According to the ASIF, there were 97,494 students enrolled either at or after the time of new construction or the renovation of the ASIF 221 school projects we have supported.  These students are, or were, in a more comfortable learning environment because of our support.

The Knights and Daughters of Vartan remain committed to our participation in the World Bank 90/10 and 95/05 Programs in the building of new or the renovation of schools in Armenia.

Building Homes for Low Income Families – Fuller Center for Housing  Armenia

In 2017 Fuller Center for Housing (FCHA) NGO became one of the official national programs for the Knights of Vartan but the partnership started as early as from 2007. Different otyags and tivans made donations and NS Leo Manuelian with NAD Sona Manuelian have been leading volunteer teams to Armenia to work with FCHA since the inception of the organization.

The Fuller Center for Housing Armenia (FCHA) is a non-governmental charitable organization that supports community development in the Republic of Armenia by assisting in building and renovating simple, decent, and affordable homes as well as advocating the right to a decent shelter as a matter of conscience and action.  It is a covenant partner of the Fuller Center for Housing, established in the spring of 2005. After 29 years of unwavering and tireless service to the poor with Habitat for Humanity, Millard Fuller, the founder and president of Habitat for Humanity, was motivated to expand his vision of eliminating substandard housing worldwide.

Homeownership makes a real difference in the families’ lives with the positive impact for generations. By building homes for families in need, FCHA is building a foundation for a better society; thus, building to accomplish its mission, the Fuller Center for Housing Armenia garners volunteer and financial support.

Since the launch of the Fuller Center for Housing Armenia (FCHA) in 2008, the organization has been able to provide safe, decent, and affordable housing to more than 622 families.

To become an FCHA beneficiary, prospective homeowners must complete an application. The application first undergoes a paper audit and then a field audit to determine eligibility. To be eligible, a family must own a half-built home/apartment or a home/apartment in need of renovation; have an income that can sustain the family, but that is not enough to allow them to complete construction of the home on their own or to pay off a bank loan; and, as a result of these factors, live in substandard housing (typically, a portion of the uncompleted house, a “domik,” or a borrowed home). FCHA has no shortage of applicants.

In addition to its sweat equity, the beneficiary family is only required to cover the cost of basic materials. All labor is on a voluntary basis. Upon completion and occupation of the house, the cost of materials is converted to an interest-free mortgage (what the Fuller Center calls “the economy of Jesus”), which the family pays in an affordable monthly amount. These funds are then used to purchase materials for other villagers’ homes.

The positive impact of the FCHA program extends beyond the tangible economic and social benefits: It has proven to be 100 percent effective in stemming emigration. Not one family helped by FCHA has emigrated.

From the perspective of the volunteers, this experience allows them to learn about the homeland and enjoy the satisfaction of engaging in a truly Christian experience. It’s a win-win-win situation!

More information on http://fullercenterarmenia.org

Download samples of completed project reports here:

Knights Of Vartan Khangeldyan Family 2017.pdf

Knights Of Vartan Taroyan Family 2016.pdf

Knights and Daughters of Vartan to Sponsor Davush Children through CASP

The Grand Councils of the Knights and Daughters of Vartan announced a partnership with CASP (Children of Armenia Sponsorship Program) to benefit suffering children of the Davush region of Armenia over the next three years.

CASP benefits needy children in Armenia — children with struggling single mothers, and also orphans. The Knights and Daughters of Vartan’s unified efforts on the project will benefit these children of the Davush Region of the Republic of Armenia only, which borders Azerbaijan and Georgia.  More information is available on www.caspkids.org.

A multifaceted presentation about CASP and the needs of the Davush region was featured at the 2013 Grand Convocation in Las Vegas, where ND Eva Medzorian’s powerful documentary about Davush was screened, and representatives from CASP and the Avak Tivan provided an overview of the project.

The Grand Councils encourage each Lodge and Otyag together to sponsor two children per year, for a total of $500 per year, for the years 2013, 2014 and 2015.  The giving deadline for each year is December 15.  Of course, all levels of support are welcome.

Checks can be made payable to: KV Charitable Fund and mailed to: Edward M. Bedikian, 38228 Lana Drive, Farmington Hills, MI 48335.

A national committee is also being formed to oversee this project.  Please email avaksbarabed@knightsofvartan.org for more information.

THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN-DEARBORN
KNIGHTS OF VARTAN SUPPORTED ARMENIAN RESEARCH CENTER

The Armenian Research Center (ARC) at The University of Michigan-Dearborn continues – for its twenty-second year – its work of research, education, publication, and public service locally, nationally, and internationally.
It has become a “virtual” Center, taking advantage of modern communication–printing, travel, mail, telephone, fax, and the Internet–to work with a large number of people beyond its modest physical boundaries, to reach out literally to the whole world.  It not only has a respectable collection of books, articles, newspapers and documents on Armenia and the Armenian people–in hard copy, microfilm and microfiche–but it also has access to a lot of other research materials available on compact disk and the Internet, which tie it to many major libraries and databases around the world.
The Center continues to offer information and research facilities to students, faculty, and the general public, as well as to the press, television, radio, and the local, national, and international research communities.

Knights of Vartan Notebook Project

Notebook Project was initiated in September of 2007 to administer the distribution of the Notebooks to the students in the two schools that carry the name of the Knights and Daughters of Vartan.
Recent funds contributed to the Notebook project are used for printing notebooks for a two-year distribution to the students to the two schools that carry Knights of Vartan name, but also to the students enrolled in the first school that was built by the Knights and Daughters of Vartan in the ASSP Program.

KNIGHTS OF VARTAN FUND FOR ARMENIAN STUDIES

A Fund for Armenian Studies (FAS) was established by a bequest from an anonymous donor in 1986.  In 1996, after the fund reached its goal amount, it was turned over to the Knights of Vartan for administration and management and was named the Knights of Vartan Fund for Armenian Studies (FAS).  The purpose of the FAS is to support Armenian studies, including academic fellowships, scholarly research and publications (history, music, literature, language, etc.) and to fund lectures, seminars and conferences in Armenian studies.

Godfathers to the Church in Armavir, Armenia

His Holiness, Karekin II, Catholicos of all Armenians, has requested the Knights and Daughters of Vartan, to serve as the 16 Godfathers to Church in the City of Armavir, State of Armavir, Armenia. Request is to raise funds in the form of 16 Godfathers for the Church in Armavir. The Church will be named Saint Vartanantz.  Knights and Daughters of Vartan are actively supporting this effort.

Adopt-A School Project

Independence of Armenia in September 1991 was followed by a breakdown of support for schools in Armenia.  Government budgets were meager or non-existing and schools began to suffer with non-functioning toilets, leaky roofs, broken windows and furniture, and even lack of electricity and water. In an attempt to alleviate this problem, the Knights and Daughters of Vartan launched a program in 1995 to enable lodges, individual Knights, Daughters and even non members to sponsor a school in Armenia with a minimum donation of $500 annually for a period of three years. Many donations that were made were far in excess of the minimum. The program was extremely successful in the first two years of adoption with over $100,000 raised from 1995-1997 from donations and given to over 75 schools. The schools that have received money from the Adopt-A-School Project have new bathrooms, running water, blackboards, new charis, and computers.  Three schools in Nor Kharpert, for instance, have 100% heat and new windows, doors and roofs.

Today, the Adopt-A-School Project accepts donations of any amount and guarantees that 100% of all donations  are given to a needy schools in Armenia where real change occurs.  Contributors can select the particular school to which the dontation is hand-delivered, or can elect to have the Adopt-A-School committee designate a worthy school.

Contact your local lodge or Otyag or the Avak Tivan for more information or to make donations.