With the Armenian flag raised over the historic New York City’s Cunard building, 400 guests attended the sold-out 15th Annual Children of Armenia Fund (COAF) Holiday Gala held on December 15th at Cipriani 25 Broadway. A record fund-raising total of over $4 million was raised, allowing the completion of the state-of-the-art COAF SMART Center campus, which will reach over 150,000 people and was recently visited by President Armen Sarkissian of Armenia.
“It was a spectacular evening, and we are delighted by the support from the Diaspora as well as our global family who have demonstrated a deep sense of commitment to COAF’s mission over the last 15 years,” said Dr. Garo Armen, Founder of COAF. “We are energized by the evening’s outpouring of generosity and will be expanding our reach which now includes 44 rural communities impacting over 75,000 lives to over 100 communities impacting 150,000 lives. Furthermore, the peaceful revolution in April underscores COAF’s core values to bring about democracy and freedom to allow citizens to define their future. All this will result in accelerated innovation and economic growth. We feel a moral responsibility to provide the next generation with the tools, skills and infrastructure to advance what has already started.”
A significant component of the evening was a live art auction guided by Gala Honorary Chair Tony Shafrazi, one of the art world’s most prominent figures. Renowned auctioneer Simon de Pury once again masterfully conducted the auction. COAF ambassador Andrea Martin returned as this year’s host. Celebrity guests included Grammy-nominated singer Melody Gardot and Emmy-nominated actor Victor Garber who led the evening’s special tribute to the late French-Armenian iconic entertainer Charles Aznavour.
COAF’s Humanitarian Award was presented to Vartan Gregorian (president of the Carnegie Corporation) and his late wife Clare Gregorian, who was a founding COAF board member. Nine college scholarships were established for COAF youth in Armenia in appreciation of Clare Gregorian’s dedication.
Attendees also heard an inspiring speech from a young teenager by the name of Marina Mirzoyan from the COAF-supported village of Hatsik. Marina is currently a study exchange student in Colorado and who has excelled in English language programs offered by COAF at her local school. She spoke on gaining confidence and not being afraid to fail as a result of COAF’s impact on her life. The evening also featured performances by two teenaged musicians from Armenia. Armen Puchinyan (piano) and Armen Daghents (saxophone) moved guests with both classical and popular pieces.
COAF has raised over $44 million since 2003, helping improve the lives of 75,000 people in 44 villages of Armenia. Plans are currently underway to add a Medical Center, Child Development Center and Dormitory on the SMART Center campus located in the Lori region of Armenia.
Thousands of youth have been impacted by COAF’s work in rural Armenia. Here’s the story of one such teenager who is a source of inspiration for others: Watch Video