SOUTHFIELD, Mich. — During the COVID-19 lockdown last year, the Women’s Guild of St. John Armenian Church in Southfield, Michigan searched for ways to stay connected while staying apart. Normally the Guild’s calendar is filled with activities and events throughout the year. Maintaining that connection to each other while remaining homebound meant thinking in new ways. To start, the group divided up their phone directory and took turns calling each member to check in regularly.
A suggestion by Fr. Aren Jebejian led to the creation of Guild Gatherings, a series of instructional videos recorded by volunteers in their homes and posted on YouTube. The popular channel now has about 35 videos viewed over 7,000 times, covering a wide variety of subjects. “Every day, millions of people go to YouTube to be educated, informed, motivated, or just plain delighted. We demonstrate how to make souboreg, katah, stuffed peppers, comfort foods, yogurt, manti, and choreg, just to name a few of the cooking videos. Other topics include designing holiday planters and tablescapes, painting, knitting, exercise, and more,” says Denise Karakashian, Guild Gatherings co-chair. “These videos inspired many viewers to learn new skills during the quarantine.”
“Our members were willing to share their expertise and provide entertainment for others during the lockdown. It was exciting to see them go beyond their comfort level, look into the camera and connect with others,” says Paulette Apkarian, co-chair.
Family recipes are popular, like the one Marianne Dardarian demonstrates in, “Let’s Bake Candy Cane Cookies,” a version of simit her mother, Lillian Baylerian Hovsepian, would make at Christmas. “Mom made simit cookies at Christmas, and she loved having us help her. Since we hosted Christmas dinner for the Baylerian and Hovsepian families, it became a tradition to have a basket of them for all to enjoy. My sister Patty and I made them with our children, and we taught friends to make them with their children. Some of us even made them with our children’s kindergarten classes as part of the lessons on holiday traditions.”
Candy Cane Simit
Contributed by Lillian Hovsepian and Marianne Dardarian