WATERTOWN — The Knights of Vartan Ararat Lodge No. 1 and the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) Young Professionals Boston sponsored a fundraiser on Friday, May 17, at the AGBU New England headquarters in order to raise funds for the orphans of the April War of 2016 via the Diaspora for Frontline Families Fund (DFFF) of the Knights of Vartan. The allure of philanthropy was literally sweetened by the dessert creations of pastry chef Nathan Kibarian and the Armenian drinks of Ararat Brandy, including a signature drink made for this event by Kibarian’s colleague Vannaluck Hongthong from Island Creek Oyster Bar. Many guests also enjoyed the products of Davtian Premier Cigars.
Kibarian and Hongthong spoke briefly about their creations. Kibarian had made brandy praline bonbons (molded chocolate with a brandy and praline ganache filling), an Ararat brandy, Bourbon vanilla and chocolate mille feuille, and apricot Bavarian cream shooters for this occasion. Hongthong explained how to properly drink cognac or brandy and even revealed the ingredients of his special cocktail, which included 10-year-old Ararat Brandy, lemon juice and apricot brandy.
While this was primarily a social event, Zareh Zurabyan of the Knights of Vartan displayed some Armenian carpets from his personal collection and ran a quiz on the symbols used on these carpets. He gave a brief talk on the symbols and some aspects of Armenian carpets, including regional particularities. The carpets were from Kars, Gedashen, Lori and other areas from the end of the 19th century and the early 20th century. Zurabyan relied on information from his mentor Hratch Kozibeyokian, who was president of the Armenian Rug Society.
The quiz was an icebreaker and in addition chess and backgammon sets placed in corners of the room appealed to different tastes. The guests formed a very diverse crowd spanning ages 21 to 76 from countries like China, Singapore, Haiti, New Zealand, Germany, Dominican Republic, and France. There were over 85 people present in all.
DFFF was founded by Ararat Lodge Secretary Nerses Zurabyan and his brother Zareh and some other Boston-area Armenians after the 2016 war in Artsakh. There were around 100 casualties. Nerses Zurabyan and other Knights noticed that the distribution of funds to the victims’ families was uneven, and the children who lost their fathers and main breadwinners were suffering. No complete list existed of these victims so the first thing necessary was to compile a full and accurate list before sending aid.
There are 61 children included in the program at present. Children of Armenia Sponsorship Program (CASP) of the Eastern Armenian Diocese’s Fund for Armenian Relief helped distribute the resources raised in the United States by DFFF, while the Knights of Vartan provide tax-deductable receipts for donors. This is now the third year of a five-year commitment, which may very well be extend further in time (for more information, see this “Talking Vartan” podcast interview of Nerses Zurabyan run by David Medzorian.