The AGBU Western District Annual Gala Banquet, one of Los Angeles’s most >anticipated events, drew over 400 guests this year for an evening of fundraising and celebration. Together, the attendees donated a record $125,000 for local youth programs as they honored AGBU Central Board Vice President Sam Simonian and his wife Sylva for their groundbreaking educational initiatives in Armenia.
Now leading philanthropists, the Simonians attribute their success to the AGBU education and support they received from an early age. Both are graduates of AGBU Lebanon schools and Mr. Simonian was granted financial aid by the AGBU Scholarship Program while a university student in the U.S. They have worked tirelessly to create the same opportunities for children in Armenia today. Their most recent venture, the TUMO Center for Creative Technologies, is the first multimedia institute of its kind in Armenia. As the couple has shared, it is a way to give back to the community that has given so much to them. Since the Center opened its doors over two years ago, it has served thousands of students ages 12-18, giving them access to state-of-the-art technologies and courses led by industry professionals.
AGBU Central Board Vice President Sinan Sinanian remarked on the positive impact that the Simonians have had through the TUMO Center. Before introducing them at the gala event, he stated, “Sam and Sylva Simonian had the vision, provided the funds and fully implemented one of the most advanced initiatives of our time. The TUMO Center for Creative Technologies allows young people to develop their technical skills, expand their horizons and find the resources to achieve their full creative potential. We are so pleased to honor them here tonight.”
The gala attendees saw the ways students’ imaginations come to life every day at the TUMO Center through a special video presentation. Following the screening, Mr. Simonian accepted the honorary plaque, remarking, “Sylva and I are both touched and overwhelmed by the warm reception we have been met with here tonight. Over the years, we have received many words of encouragement and offers of support for our Center from various individuals and organizations, for which we are also very thankful. AGBU and the Armenian community have always considered modern education the most essential investment in the lives of our youth. This is a night we will always remember.”
Throughout the evening, the master of ceremonies Nora J. Balikian also turned the guests’ attention to the many initiatives that the AGBU Western District offers to youth across California. A video on local activities highlighted the District¹s scouts groups, Generation Next mentorship program, Krikor Satamian Theatre Group, athletic teams and marching bands. Hermine Janoyan, chair of the AGBU Western District Special Events Committee, which organized the gala, has helped make many of those activities possible. She was presented with the Lifetime AGBU Honorary Member Award in recognition of three decades of dedicated service to AGBU.
A number of public figures attended the banquet, among them Primate Archbishop Hovnan
Derderian; Former Primate Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian; Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian; and California Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian.