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(SAN DIEGO) – The Knights of Vartan, Gomidas Tahlij #43 of San Diego has donated a commissioned painting of St. Vartan and Ghevont Yeretz for the side altar of St. Sarkis Armenian Church, San Diego.

The painting by Armenian artist Tigran Hovumyan was dedicated and blessed by His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese, and parish priest Very Rev. Father Pakrad Dz. V Berjekian, on Sunday, February 5, 2023, as part of St. Sarkis’ First Anniversary Celebration.

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Semonians of Knights of Vartan Ararat Lodge #1 Partner with Rotary International on Village Water Project

A little effort going a very long way is being seen in the tiny Armenian village of Arpunq, thanks in part to the financial generosity of the late Ararat Asbed Robert “Bob” Semonian from Ararat Lodge No. 1. A ten-thousand-dollar donation from a trust established by Bob Semonian, who passed away in 2016, is being used to help bring pristine running water to a remote village near the southern shores of Lake Sevan, replacing on old, inoperative Soviet era asbestos pipe.

Arpunq has some 120 homes with a population of about 660 people. The project was spearheaded by Asbed John Peterson of Ararat Lodge No. 17 and Clayton Carlisle, both members of the Billerica, Massachusetts Rotary Club.  They both addressed the members of Ararat Lodge No. 1 and Arpie Otyag No. 9 at their January 14th dinner in Watertown, Massachusetts. It is the Billerica Rotary Club that requested and received a Global Grant from Rotary International for the project, whose total cost is fifty-two thousand dollars. Asbed John Peterson, of the Billerica Rotary Club approached Asbed Leon Semonian, co- trustee of his brother Bob’s estate along with Paul Semonian, Bob’s nephew for assistance. They generously agreed to donate ten-thousand dollars of the $17,000 local contribution required by Rotary International, which triggered the Rotary’s matching contribution to complete funding for the project.

The pipeline is the only source of water for the village, running some two and a half miles both above and below ground. It feeds water faucets that are located outside of the modest homes. There is no indoor plumbing in Arpunq which means that all toilet facilities are also outdoors in the form of outhouses. Other uses for the grant money include roofing of the local school, family bedding at a cost of fifty dollars per bed, and bee hives for a number of families.

At the January Knights and Daughters dinner, Asbed Leon Semonian was honored for his generosity by Lodge and Otyag members as well as Asbed and Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian and Worcester Representative of the MASS State House of Representatives. David Muradian. Sheriff Koutoujian thanked Leon and Paul Semonian for their generosity and for caring so much about Armenia and its people. He then presented Leon with a proclamation from his Sherrif’s department, acknowledging their philanthropy. Representative Muradian also presented a proclamation citing the generosity of the Semonians on behalf of the people of Massachusetts. Leon then took a moment to thank those who had honored him, saying that his late brother Bob would have been very proud of what was being done in Armenia with his Trust funds and pleased to have played a small role in making it happen.

Article and Photos by Asbed David Medzorian, Ararat Lodge No. 1. 2019