By Aram Arkun
NEW YORK — The Children of Armenia Fund (COAF) held a fundraiser on the evening of June 22 at New York City’s Standard Hotel in the Meatpacking District. Armenian-American actress and comedienne Andrea Martin, artist and designer Michael Aram and fashion boutique chain founder Khajak Keledjian served as hosts to a crowd of some 230 people.
The event was aimed at attracting a younger crowd than COAF’s annual banquet, and it seems to have succeeded. Despite the early evening thunderstorms, the hotel room and surrounding terrace were packed by fashionably-dressed guests enjoying the view, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. More than $20,000 was raised, permitting COAF to build a wing on one of the schools it is renovating in the large village of Miasnikian.
The formal portion of the event was fairly brief. Martin, a steadfast supporter of COAF, pointed out the importance of the organization’s work. She spoke both at the start and the end of the event with humor and charm. She said that five years ago when she was first approached to serve as the entertainment for a COAF event, she asked for money, a car, a dress and “this and that,” but when she became familiar with the work that COAF did, she no longer could ask for any payment. She said that once any audience member would go to Armenia and see for himself the impact of the extraordinary work being done on people’s lives, “You will sell your house and give it to COAF.”
Aram said that the poverty levels he saw in Armenia after the fall of the Soviet Union were extreme. Students had to go to schools with no heat, crumbling walls and holes in the floors. Aram continued, “Living conditions and study conditions were among the worst I have ever seen in my life, and I have lived in India for 20 years of my life.” One COAF Board member was visiting a school in Armenia, and some students passed out from hunger at that time. Aram asked for the help of those present to improve this tragic situation.