WASHINGTON — After more than 25 years of humanitarian activities, the Jerair Nishanian Foundation (JNF), continues to receive many accolades and expressions of appreciation and gratitude. Several years ago, Rev. Vertanes Kalayjian, pastor emeritus of St. Mary Armenian Church in Washington, DC, wrote an article titled “Another Point of Light.”
The light that he was referring to was the Other Point of Light that had been shining over the darkest horizons of Armenia. Kalayjian wrote, “Simply put, there are those among us, who are very few, who have been undeterred in their commitment to continue to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness. I’m referring to the quietly and steadily functioning JNF, the foundation named after its primary and sole benefactor, Jerair Nishanian of Vienna, Va.”
Recently, Dr. Takvor Nishanian, vice president and treasurer of JNF, reported to a packed audience gathered to honor Dr. Taner Akçam about the origins of the foundation. He said, “My father established this Foundation because of a strong sense of duty to his homeland, instilled in him by his parents’ past. Both were survivors of the Armenian Genocide. His father died when he was a child, so his mother raised him and four older siblings by herself. Her love of the Armenian culture — her Armenian identity — was passed down to all of her children; and it is through her, that my father ultimately decided to establish his foundation.
“The overall mission of JNF is very simple: to facilitate an opportunity for underprivileged, talented Armenian students to attain higher education in various disciplines, and achieve their inherent potentials and, in turn, contribute to the welfare of their motherland and future generations. By doing so, they preserve their Armenian heritage and build a strong generation of Armenians, armed with higher education. “Through a collaboration with FAR [Fund for Armenian Relief], our foundation provides college scholarships for approximately 60 students annually. We have focused on one of the needier regions of Armenia, Gavar, providing scholarships for students attending Gavar State University. More recently, we have expanded our program to include graduate students at the National University of Architecture and Construction of Armenia in Yerevan.
“In addition, the foundation has renovated portions of Gavar State University. Finally, our foundation is committed to supporting the translation and publication of literary projects towards the advancement of Armenian education and cultural issues, including those written about the Armenian Genocide. Many of these written documents about the Armenian Genocide originated with Dr. Taner Akçam.”
FAR’s Executive Director Garnik Nanagoulian proclaims, “Scholarships Can Change Lives.” The following is FAR’s report about one very accomplished JFN Scholarship recipient whose life has truly been changed.: Silva Karapetyan, 24, earned her bachelor’s degree in design from the Armenian National University of Architecture and Construction in 2018. Her studies were made possible through FAR’s Jerair Nishanian Scholarship Program. She said “Jerair Nishanian is a unique person in my heart and in my memory. I won’t ever forget him,” said Silva. “My university life began thanks to Jerair Nishanian’s generous support. It was filled with many happy moments.” Silva is pleased with her achievements, as well as with the knowledge and skills she acquired over the course of four years at college. During her senior year, she decided to design the interior of an apartment for physically disabled people consisting of nonstandard elements like convertible tables, beds and sofas.