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Friday, August 28, 2015

Spotlight: ANC of Rhode Island

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The ANCA Desk begins a new feature with this column. Every month, the ANCA Desk will shed the spotlight on a local ANC to spread the news on its work and progress and to share ANC project ideas with Hai Tahd activists.

This month, the Desk features the ANC of Rhode Island. For more than 25 years, the ANC of Rhode Island has been doing innovative Hai Tahd work and getting results. From conducting vigils in support of Armenian political prisoners to lobbying state legislative and Congressional candidates, the ANC of Rhode Island continues to keep Armenian issues on the radar screens of Rhode Island community members, the state's elected officials, and people and institutions in positions of power and influence.

The ANC of Rhode Island has built a positive reputation in the Providence Armenian community by staying visible and at the forefront of Hai Tahd issues. The ANC of Rhode Island is a frequent sponsor of coffee hours after Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Church Sunday services. The ANC also has an operating Hai Tahd office in the church hall where Committee members work evenings during the week on projects and host Sunday open houses so that community members can stop by and discuss Armenian political issues of the day.

On Sunday, February 4, 2001, the ANC of Rhode Island dedicated that office in memory of Unger Steve Varadian, a long time member of the ANC of Rhode Island and unger of the ARF Providence Christapor Gomidehoutiun. Sadly, Steve died on September 20, 2000 after a valiant struggle with cancer. But Steve's spirit lives on in the office which has been refurbished with donations made in his memory to the Providence ARF and ANC. Community and family members crowded the room for the office dedication ceremony, a fitting tribute to both Steve and the Hai Tahd work he did with his fellow Committee members.

Out of that ANC office come newsletters and other communication urging community action, Rhode Island State House lobbying activities seeking, for example, support for an Armenian Genocide curriculum and rejection of foreign government money to Rhode Island universities, plans for community lectures and debates, receptions for state legislators and members of Congress, and meetings with activists from groups with goals common to those of the ANC.

The ANC of Rhode Island's current agenda is typically full. Through its recent successful lobbying for an Armenian Genocide curriculum in Rhode Island's public schools, ANC activists met Rhode Island's Cambodian and Irish communities and formed a compelling coalition to demand support and passage for the curriculum. This connection resulted in Irish activists inviting the ANC of Rhode Island to participate in Providence's annual St. Patrick's Day parade. This year, the ANC will participate in the parade to generate publicity for Armenians and Armenian issues in a unique fashion.

The Committee is also preparing activities in connection with the Providence community's annual commemoration of Armenian Martyrs Day, April 24. Like last year, the ANC of Rhode Island is planning to ensure that the Armenian flag is raised at the Rhode Island State House and in all 39 of Rhode Island's municipalities, as well as the Rhode Island Narragansett Indian reservation. Last year, ANC activists traveled the state and took pictures of every Armenian flag flying on April 24 and will record the event again this year. This year's Committee goals are to encourage Armenians in Rhode Island to fly the Armenian flag at their homes on Martyrs Day and garner better media coverage for this April 24 commemorative activity.

The ANC of Rhode Island is also planning to reinstitute its ANC Awards Reception, an event that honors Rhode Islanders and Rhode Island organizations helpful to the Armenian Cause. The Committee is now selecting this year's honorees and will hold the event this spring.

Under the direction of the ARF Providence Christapor Gomideh, the ANC of Rhode Island operates with the support of the AYF-YOARF Providence Varantian Senior Chapter and Providence community members who support the Armenian Cause. For more information about the ANC of Rhode Island or to find out how to get involved, call Sarkis Varadian at 401-461-9792 or email sarkisvaradian@aol.com


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