On the Town: Event raises funds for Armenian health

Nobody can throw a Thanksgiving Luncheon like the women in the Ladies Auxiliary of the Armenian American Medical Society, made up primarily of doctors’ wives.

The Brandview Banquet Hall on Harvard Street was the sparkling setting for lunch and honors this past Saturday. Volunteer extraordinaire Sonia Nersissian received the group’s Spirit of Life Award in front of 250 women who gave this dynamo a standing ovation.

Among Nersissian’s accomplishments was raising money for a laptop and van so that a doctor could go to Armenian villages and take care of poor children with epilepsy.

Event chair Ramella Markian guided the action with aplomb. News flash! Markian has just been promoted to associate vice president of business development at Glendale Adventist Medical Center. This lady knows what she’s doing. Markian introduced her event vice chairperson Vany Cherik, who, in turn, introduced good friend and honoree Nersissian.

Cherik described some of Nersissian’s volunteer work and life story. In 1987, Nersissian and her family moved from Iran to the United States. Once here, she began her volunteer work with the Armenian Society of Iran.

In 1991, Nersissian was invited into the Armenian American Medical Society Ladies Auxiliary. She became the group’s president in 2002. Nersissian later handed the gavel to her successor, Markian.

One of Nersissian’s hobbies is dress design. Lavish gowns designed by this woman of all trades were on display in the banquet hall.

Also included on the program was a presentation by Dr. Christopher K. Kaypekian on “The Truth About Pain.” His wife, Natalie, introduced him. The doctor had the room buzzing over his use of a relatively new treatment for migraine headaches — botox.

The afternoon ended with music and shopping. A boutique made it easy to load up on Christmas gifts. A favorite booth was that of jewelry designer Vahe Karapetyan.

Event proceeds will benefit Glendale Healthy Women and the Children’s Diabetic Camp in Armenia. Also benefiting will be the ladies auxiliary’s free mammogram screenings program. Since 2010, some 700 free mammograms have been provided to women in need.


In the United States, there are more than 2 million female veterans and active duty members, and the highest concentration is in California.

Many of these female vets have to deal with unemployment, homelessness and domestic violence. Eighty percent are likely to encounter sexual harassment while serving, but still they carry on — which is the theme of the Glendale YWCA’s inaugural “We Carry On” runway luncheon.

The YWCA has made a commitment to empower all women at the local, statewide and national levels who have served or serve in the U.S. military.

This past Thursday, 30 female and male vets, along with dozens of civilians, packed the Y’s auditorium. NBC4 weatherman Fritz Coleman was his usual funny self as the master of ceremonies.

“I’m in a flawless room full of estrogen,” Coleman said.

Glendale YWCA’s Senior Director Lisa Raggio welcomed her audience and introduced VIPs present including Glendale City Council member and Vietnam vet Frank Quintero, City Clerk Ardy Kassakhian and retired Air Force Col. Nancy Sumner.

Joyce Roys-Aguilera represented state Sen. Carol Liu and her financial literacy program. Also putting in an appearance was Carl Raggio, former Glendale Mayor and Lisa Raggio’s father. Another former Glendale Mayor on hand was Eileen Givens.

The live auction was eagerly looked forward to for those willing to part with some dollars to benefit military women. Strutting down the runway, the models wore workforce attire, representing local female vets as they reintegrate into the work world from serving.

Paula Devine, a member of the Glendale Commission on the Status of Women, and her Soroptimist tablemates picked up a nifty pantsuit that they will donate to a female vet.

As chief executive and founder of Makeovers that Matter, Michael John Derricott led his merry band of hair stylists — Janet Barajas, Quinn Garcia and Heather Andrews. Makeovers that Matter provides economically disadvantaged women veterans with makeover services when they enter the workplace. So far, the organization has styled the hair of 250 female vets during the past roughly two years.

Glendale YWCA’s Focus on Female Veterans programming includes child care as well as peer and leadership support.


RUTH SOWBY may be reached at ruthasowby@gmail.com.

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