Kevork Atinizian To Be Awarded The Ellis Island Medal of Honor

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BELMONT, Mass. — “Supporting an immigrant to succeed is the foundation of the country that adopted us all,” stated Kevork Atinizian, who is one of the recipients of 2010 Ellis Island Medal of Honor awards.

The Ellis Island Medal of Honor, which is sponsored by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations (NECO), is given to candidates who have made contributions to their ethnic communities and to American society at large. The award, initiated in 1986, “pays homage to the immigrant experience, individual achievement and to US citizens who exemplify and preserve richness of their particular heritage,” according to NECO.

Born and raised in Dikranagerd, Atinizian came to the United States in 1980 from Istanbul, where he and his brother, Nishan, owned and operated a metal and enamel factory employing more than 200 people. Two years later, in 1982, the brothers purchased the Fresh Pond Mall Shopping Center in Cambridge, Mass., and became involved in real estate. Since then, they have developed businesses in the United States and Armenia. Among businesses in Armenia, in which they are partners, is the Armenia Marriott Hotel in Yerevan, which opened in 2004.

In 1988, Kevork Atinizian married Jacqueline Kerimian. The Atinizians have three children: Nigoghos, Ari and Lori.

Atinizian is devoted to the development of an Armenian education because he believes in perpetuating the Armenian culture and language. Since childhood, he has also been dedicated to the Armenian Church, contributing his time, talents and financial resources.

Kevork and Jacqueline Atinizian are active members and supporters of Holy Trinity Armenian Church in Cambridge, having established a Holy Trinity Trust Fund in their name. They have also supported causes both locally, nationally and internationally, including the Fund For Armenia Relief (FAR), the Patriarchate of Constantinople, Our Savior Armenian Hospital of Istanbul, Habitat for Humanity in Armenia, the Armenian Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Jamaica Plain, Mass., Armenian day schools in the Greater Boston area, the Armenian Mirror-Spectator newspaper and the United Nations’ Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and many other organizations. They are also members of the Armenian Assembly of America.

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In 1998, the late Catholicos of All Armenians, Karekin I, bestowed the highest order of the Armenian Church, the St. Gregory the Illuminator Medal and the Pontifical Encyclical, upon the couple.

Atinizian visited Jerusalem in January 2000 and contributed funds to renovate the Grand Sacrist’s residence at the Armenian patriarchate. In November 2000, he was invited to be part of the entourage of Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II during the catholicos’ visit to the Vatican to meet with the late Pope John Paul II.

The 106th Diocesan Assembly of the Armenian Church of America gave Kevork Atinizian in 2008 the Armenian of The Year Award for his long assistance to the Armenian Church and to many Armenian organizations in the US, Turkey and Armenia.

Having been an immigrant himself, and therefore understanding the unique difficulties of those who move to a different country, Kevork and his wife have supported and assisted others newly arrived from Armenia, the Middle East and other countries to the United States. “Providing financial assistance, housing and employment, or assisting them to find jobs is my way of expressing my gratitude to this country and giving back to my people,” said Atinizian.

The presentation of the 24th Annual Ellis Island Medals of Honor will take place on Ellis Island, on Saturday, May 8.

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