NEW YORK – Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ariana Grande, Conan O’Brien and Vanessa Williams are just some of the American celebrities that support the Children of Armenia Fund (COAF). During COAF’s gala event at New York’s Cipriani 42nd Street on December 16, $3.6 million was raised thanks to the generous donations of the Armenian community, their friends, and an auction. Andrea Martin, the Emmy-award winning American-Canadian actress of Armenian heritage, hosted the event and prominent art auctioneer Simon de Pury headed the auction.
Garo Armen, the chairman of COAF, personally donated 1 million dollars to the fund. Istanbul-born benefactor, businessman and inventor Garo Armen donated the same amount at 2016’s gala evening.
Special guests present included actress, singer and performer Vanessa Williams, art dealer Tony Shafrazi, designer Michael Aram, and chef Geoffrey Zakarian. Williams performed her Golden Globe and Academy Award-winning song Colors of the Wind and paid tribute to Emmy Award-winning costume designer and fashion icon Patricia Field (“Sex and the City,” “The Devil Wears Prada”), who received COAF’s Humanitarian Award. Field, who is of Armenian and Greek heritage, has been a longtime supporter of COAF, sharing its vision of empowering people to realize their full potential, embrace originality, and achieve their individual greatness.
COAF started its activities in 2000 by renovating the school building of Karakert village in Armavir province of Armenia. As of 2017 COAF has expanded its work to 44 villages. The key project that COAF has been working on for the last few years is the construction of the state-of-art “Smart Center” in Lori’s D’segh village. The work on about 18 acres of land is nearing its completion. Children from about 30 villages in proximity to the campus will be able to study IT, engineering, robotics, and master English skills at this center. COAF is planning on constructing more Smart Centers across Armenia.
The evening included performances from 14-year-old saxophonist Aleksandr Avetisyan and 9-year-old vocalist Ani Margaryan, both from Armenia, a speech on opportunities created by COAF from 16-year-old Nareh Galstyan, from the village of Lernagog and many other celebrity presentations.
As Vanessa Williams said in the interview to Armenia’s Public TV Company presented here, she supports COAF because “100 percent of the proceeds go directly to COAF from the gala – it is phenomenal that it goes directly to changing people’s lives in Armenia.”