PHILADELPHIA — The Society for Orphaned Armenian Relief (SOAR), the only non-profit organization whose only mission is to provide humanitarian assistance to orphaned Armenians worldwide, hosted its 10th anniversary gala on Saturday, March 14, at the Sheraton University City Hotel. More than 370 attendees enjoyed the festivities — cocktails, dinner, silent auction, and musical entertainment from Hamazkayin Meghry Dance Group, Artsakh Band, and international superstar Robert Chilingirian.
SOAR welcomed Sister Arousiag Sajonian, Superior of the Our Lady of Armenia Center (Gyumri) and the Our Lady of Armenia Summer Camp (Tsaghgadzor). Keynote speaker Dr. Ronald Suny offered prescient words on the nexus between the orphan experience and genocide. SOAR honored two long-time supporters, attorney Mark Geragos and artist Michael Aram. Geragos cemented his national reputation as a trial lawyer with the representation of various renowned celebrities, including Whitewater figure Susan McDougal, Chris Brown, James Bond movie director Lee Tamahori, talk show host Rickie Lake, Actress Gail O’Grady, Rep. Gary Condit, Academy Award-nominated actress Winona Ryder, pop star Michael Jackson, Nicole Ritchie and the family of Nataline Sarkisyan, whose 17-year-old daughter died when CIGNA Healthcare refused to authorize a liver transplant.
Michael Aram is an American born artist who works primarily in metal. After studying fine art in New York in the late 1980s, Aram took what would later be a life-altering trip to India where he discovered rich metalworking traditions. Inspired to work with craftsmen whose skills he felt were greatly untapped, Aram turned his creative energies towards craft based design, setting up a home and workshop in New Delhi Aram’s work reflects humanity through the directness of the handmade process, as each piece is lovingly made using age old traditional techniques. This energy is further enhanced by the tension of line, form, and meaning that is characteristic of Aram’s work. This broad diversity embodies Aram’s versatility as an artist who is comfortable working on private commissions, one of a kind piece for gallery shows, or pieces that are affordable to a wider audience.
SOAR further honored three of its own family. Kohar Mardiros Pelter, SOAR-Ventura County Chapter President and West Regional Director, was named the 2014 Chapter Volunteer of the Year. Ani and Aren Dardarian, students at the Armenian Sisters Academy in Radnor were named the 2014 Junior Volunteers of the Year.
Today, SOAR provides assistance to approximately 2,000 orphaned Armenians across 31 institutions in Armenia, Artsakh, Javakhk, Lebanon and Syria. Headquartered in the suburbs of Philadelphia, SOAR has more than 400 volunteers in 80 Chapters and Junior groups around the world. For more information about SOAR, please visit www.soar-us.org or contact George S. Yacoubian, Jr., SOAR’s Executive Board Chairman, at 610.213.3452 or firstname.lastname@example.org.