By Lalig Musserian
JAMAICA PLAIN, Mass. — The Armenian Women’s Welfare Association, Inc. (AWWA) recently announced plans for their annual Thanks-for-Giving Luncheon, which will take place on Saturday, November 9, from 12 to 4 p.m., at the Belmont Country Club in Belmont. The luncheon will provide an opportunity for attendees to hear from the new chief executive officer of the AWWA, Stewart Goff, and raise money for AWWA’s primary initiatives: the Armenian Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Inc., in Jamaica Plain, and the Hanganak Elder Clinic in Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh. In addition, AWWA recently established the AWWA Founders Humanitarian Award, to be conferred upon an individual or organization in recognition of outstanding humanitarian vision and dedication to helping improve the welfare of Armenians less fortunate. The luncheon will also serve to honor its first recipient of the AWWA Founders Humanitarian Award.
AWWA announces that its inaugural AWWA Founders Humanitarian Award will recognize Dr. Carolann S. Najarian for her unfailing devotion and commitment to numerous humanitarian causes throughout a lifetime of dedicated service. In particular, Najarian was instrumental in helping AWWA recognize the vision of helping elders in Nagorno-Karabakh, which led to AWWA sponsoring the Hanganak Elder Clinic (Hanganak) in Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh in 2004. For more than 15 years, Hanganak has been providing medical care, food, and social support, including spiritual and community activities, to elderly women and men living alone in Stepanakert, who have no other means of support. These elders have been profoundly affected by conflicts in this region, most having lost family members. Since 2014, Hanganak has expanded their services by providing fuel assistance to Hanganak beneficiaries. Through AWWA’s sponsorship, Hanganak serves more than 200 elderly beneficiaries each year.
In addition to Hanganak, AWWA sponsors the Armenian Nursing and Rehabilitation Center (ANRC), an 83-bed nursing facility located in Jamaica Plain, which serves both elderly Armenians and non-Armenians alike by care for residents requiring short-term rehabilitation, as well as long-term care. The ANRC has a five-star rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), placing the ANRC in the top 10 percent of skilled nursing facilities within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Najarian, a native New Yorker, spent the major part of her medical career in private practice in Cambridge and Watertown. In 1988, after the great earthquake that destroyed most of northern Armenia, she spearheaded a medical relief effort to that country through the NGO she established, the Armenian Health Alliance, Inc. Over the course of more than 50 trips to the region, she delivered millions of dollars’ worth of medicine and medical supplies to the destroyed region, established the Primary Care Center of Gyumri (providing care to needy residents and training to physicians) and the Arpen Center for Expectant Women, in Nagorno-Karabakh (providing food and vitamins to pregnant women). She most recently was awarded the Vachakan Barepasht medal from Artsakh President Bako Sahakyan in April of this year, which acknowledges her distinguished service in Artsakh, both during and after the war.
Najarian earned her medical degree from the Boston University School of Medicine. She also holds a BA in music from Queens College, New York. She wrote her book, A Call From Home: Armenia and Karabagh, My Journal (Arpen Press, 1999) based on her journals, chronicling her experiences and the people she met over the first 8 years of her work after the earthquake and the break-up of the Soviet Union.