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ANCA Desk: Highlighting Local Activity in the Eastern Region

Have you been following ANCA activity in the Eastern Region? If not, you’re missing out! The Eastern Region has at least 20 local ANC chapters, and that number continues to grow.

Did you know there’s an ANC chapter in southern Illinois, and soon to be one in Missouri? How about in Louisiana? In most states or cities where Armenians live, you can bet there’s a local ANC chapter, whether it’s made up of 50 people or 5.

What has my local ANC been doing lately, you may ask? In this week’s column, I’m going to highlight the activity of the ANC of New Jersey and ANC activity in Maine. Of course, this isn’t the only activity going on in the region; rather, it’s a sample.

In Portland, Maine, Baku pogroms survivor Anna Astvatsaturian Turcotte discussed her family’s narrow escape from Azerbaijani aggression and the need for expanded U.S. support for the economic and political development of the Republic of Nagorno Karabagh with newly elected U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) during a meeting on Feb. 18.

Astvatsaturian Turcotte is an accomplished lawyer and author who shared a copy of her recently published family memoire, Nowhere: A Story of Exile, with the Senator and his staff. She also spoke about anti-Armenian massacres that began in 1988 at a Capitol Hill event last December that the ANCA helped organized. “The reality of today and the last 24 years since 1988 is that Armenians there are no safer under Azeri rule than we were in Baku,” she said. “The anti-Armenian rhetoric and propaganda plagues its policies. Artsakh Armenians could and should never be subjected to the Azeri government.”

Work like this truly embodies the grassroots nature of the Armenian cause, and people like Astvatsaturian Turcotte take initiative to work on issues critical to our community every day. For every article or press release you read on a weekly basis, there are other meetings or Hai Tahd events that slip by without much discussion.

For example, did you know the ANC of New Jersey received support from a fundraiser held at the Babylon Mediterranean Restaurant in River Edge, N.J., on Feb. 12? The event drew more than 100 people and raised funds for the ANC there.

To quote ANC of New Jersey activist Taline Chalian: “The food was great, and this was a great opportunity to connect with fellow ANC supporters in our community. We’re planning on hosting more events like this several times a year.”

The fundraiser was inspired by prior community nights, and was a chance to bring the community together and socialize. Babylon is an Assyrian-owned business, but the owner has worked with the Armenian community in New Jersey for years and is supportive of Armenian events. This event is a great example of the ANC of New Jersey working to engage the community and raise awareness for the work the ANCA does locally. The ANC of New Jersey has long been one of our most active local chapters, and this fundraiser was a wonderful way to start off the year.

The ANC of New Jersey also met with Congressman Scott Garrett (R-N.J.-5) at a meeting hosted by the Armenian Home for the Aged on Jan. 29. ANC of New Jersey co-chairs James Sahagian and Karine Shnorhokian expressed appreciation to the Congressman for his continued support for recognition of the Armenian Genocide, his support on the “Return of Churches” resolution in the last Congress, and other items of concern to the Armenian-American community.

These meetings are crucial to ANCA work, especially with Representatives like Garrett who has been a strong supporter of Armenian issues since being elected to Congress in New Jersey’s 5th District in 2003. He’s consistently received a rating of “A” on his Congressional report cards because of his advocacy on behalf of his Armenian constituents.

Again, this is just a sampling of what local ANC chapters have been accomplishing in the Eastern Region. We’d love to highlight more local activity. If your ANC has done something noteworthy recently, e-mail me at michelle@anca.org or ancaer@anca.org so we can create a press release and spotlight it in this column. And as always, if you want to get involved or learn more about the ANCA, please reach out to me via e-mail at any time.

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