The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA WR) has announced that it will bestow the Humanitarian Award to the Near East Foundation, the successor to the historic Near East Relief, at its Annual Banquet Gala taking place on November 2, 2014 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The honor is more than well deserved, as there is perhaps no other organization towards which Armenians everywhere can express greater gratitude.
Established in 1915 as a direct result of the Armenian Genocide, the Near East Relief (NER) (currently known as the Near East Foundation) is the United States’ oldest Congressionally-sanctioned non-governmental organization, which for the first time in American history, expressed the collective generosity and humanitarianism of the American people. It did so under the most challenging of circumstances, galvanizing the entire nation, and thereafter, the world, in bringing international attention to the plight of the starving Armenians during the First World War.
From 1915 through 1930, the NER mobilized the entire American nation, and indeed the world, into a well-organized and well-funded relief effort that successfully saved over 132,000 Armenian orphans and 1 million refugees half a world away. Despite its initial fundraising goal of $100,000 which was later raised to $30 million, the NER ultimately raised $117 million, the equivalent of $2.7 billion in today’s dollars. The NER went on to build over 400 orphanages, food and clothing distribution centers, medical clinics and hospitals, and vocational training schools throughout the Near East to house and care for the survivors.
“NER’s acts of charity ought to remind America and the international community of the humanity and compassion America demonstrated towards the Armenians at the turn of the last century. More significantly, honoring the legacy of the NER should serve as a catalyst for collective reawakening to again advocate for and practice acts of compassion towards the Armenian and other minorities being victimized throughout the world today,” ANCA WR said in a statement.