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On the Town: Agape Circle celebrates fundraising vision for Children’s Hospital

On the Town: Agape Circle celebrates fundraising vision for Children’s Hospital
Agape Circle Luncheon Committee members surround Archbishop Hovnan Derderian and Luncheon Chair Alice Chakrian (in blue). (Ruth Sowby Rands / Glendale News-Press)

Since the Agape Circle’s inception in 2014, its fundraising efforts have been vigorous.

Completed and implemented was the raising of $100,000 donated to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles in support of a variety of services including the vision center and the Leavey Interfaith Center. Another $50,000 has been pledged to the hospital.

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On Oct. 18, about 260 guests filled the ballroom at the newly renovated Chevy Chase Country Club. They were there to sip, sup and socialize at the fifth anniversary luncheon of the Agape Circle of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church.

A silent auction on the patio began the festivities. The sale of the auction items alone added several thousand dollars to luncheon proceeds. The display included a necklace with an 18-karat, white gold cross, valued at $1,700, and Prada sunglasses worth $500.

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Once guests were persuaded to leave the auction tables and enter the ballroom, they were welcomed by luncheon committee member Eileen Keusseyan and luncheon chair Alice Chakrian. The invocation was given by Archbishop Hovnan Derderian.

The program began with remarks from the keynote speaker, Dr. Thomas C. Lee, director of the hospital’s vision center, which is supported by Agape.

Agape Circle Luncheon Chair Alice Chakrian, left, joins Isabell Bogosian, mother of Sasha, the namesake o the Sasha Project LA.
Agape Circle Luncheon Chair Alice Chakrian, left, joins Isabell Bogosian, mother of Sasha, the namesake o the Sasha Project LA. (Ruth Sowby Rands / Glendale News-Press)

He calls himself “unofficially Armenian” and described joining the Armenian eye-care project on its mission to Yerevan, Armenia, in 2009.

He was there to help diagnose and treat a high rate of retinopathy of prematurity, an aggressive blinding disease that was affecting one-third of Armenian premature infants. Lee then set up a program via telemedicine that enabled him to remotely monitor exams and surgeries in Armenia, from more than 7,000 miles way.

Also highlighted at the luncheon was a video about “The Sasha Project Los Angeles” at Children’s Hospital. Isabell Bogossian, mother of 10-year-old Sasha, filled in the details. Sasha Bogossian has had cerebral palsy all her life.

To improve her physical challenges, Sasha participates in the hospital’s art therapy programs. She began painting denim jeans. With help from her mom, Sasha decided to give back to her community — one painted piece of denim at a time.

In two years, Sasha raised $30,000 by selling custom orders for a $100 donation for each piece. One hundred percent of the proceeds are donated to the Mark Taper-Johnny Mercer Artists Program at the hospital. To contact the project, visit thesashaprojectla.org.

Luncheon proceeds will benefit Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, the Glendale YWCA and the Starkey Hearing Foundation.

Former Glendale Mayor Frank Quintero was honored with the Human Kindness Award, given by the Glendale Memorial Health Foundation earlier this month.

Quintero received the honor in front of more than 400 foundation supporters at their 31st annual Evening of Wine & Roses.

The Universal Hilton in Universal City was at its sparkling best as members and guests trod on a red carpet laid at the entrance to the lobby and ballroom.

Glendale Memorial's Evening of Wine & Roses brought out dignitaries, from left, Hospital Board Chair Jacob Lee, Honoree former Glendale Mayor Frank Quintero, Hospital CEO Jill Welton, and Foundation Chair Dr. Santo Polito.
Glendale Memorial's Evening of Wine & Roses brought out dignitaries, from left, Hospital Board Chair Jacob Lee, Honoree former Glendale Mayor Frank Quintero, Hospital CEO Jill Welton, and Foundation Chair Dr. Santo Polito. (Ruth Sowby Rands / Glendale News-Press)

A reception as well as silent and live auctions and gaming tables fit the evening’s Las Vegas “Rat Pack” theme.

So did the entertainment, featuring Rat Pack celebrity impersonators Monty Aidem as Frank Sinatra, Andy Dimino as Dean Martin and Lambus Dean as Sammy Davis Jr. They brought down the house.

Hospital VIPs present included Dr. Santo Polito, foundation chair; Jill Welton, hospital chief executive; and Jacob Lee, hospital board chair.

Event co-chairs were Dr. Kathleen Dennis-Zarate and Haig Youredjian. State Assemblywoman Laura Friedman also attended.

The foundation’s fundraising focus is the “Humankindness in the Making” initiative.

It will renovate the hospital’s second floor into a new service center for the Center for Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine and gastroenterology lab.

The initiative is expected to raise $5 million in three years. Wine & Roses proceeds are a major step in completing the hospital’s goal.

Ruth Sowby Rands may be reached at ruthasowby@gmail.com.

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