Unifying the community


When Zaven Kazazian joined the Glendale Sunrise Rotary Club, he learned what it means to give and not just receive.

Kazazian, an insurance consultant who lives in Glendale, is used to doing business to make a profit, but once he became a member of the club, he found out that he could be a part of something greater.

“I was very impressed with the fact that everybody gave their time just to help the community,” Kazazian said. “Since I came from the profit world, it was strange for me. That’s what impressed me. Everyone was willing to come and help out the community.”

Getting involved has become a significant part of Kazazian’s life, who on average spends nearly 20 hours a week taking part in a philanthropic cause.

Kazazian has been on the club’s board of directors since 2002. In that time, he’s served as the secretary and chaired the club’s international committee.

Now he is chairman of the club’s new Unity Committee.

The committee was formed to bring together people despite their difference in ethnicity, culture or language, he said.

“It’s to try to bring the city of Glendale together as a united committee and not have all these divisions,” Kazazian said.

The committee, which bears the slogan, “One Glendale, One CommUNITY,” consists of members of the city’s public service agencies and nonprofit groups, he said, adding that the Glendale Police and Fire departments and Glendale Unified School District are represented.

“It’s small in bodies but great in reach,” Kazazian said.

In an effort to reach out further to the community, Kazazian and his committee are working with students at Daily High School. The students are drawing and painting a mural, which will depict unity.

Kazazian meets with the students weekly to review and discuss ideas for the mural.

“These kids are so terrific,” Kazazian said. “They’ve got passion for what they are doing.”

The mural will be presented to community leaders and local clergy at a breakfast meeting in March, he said.

Kazazian takes on a leadership role whenever he meets with students at Daily High School, Principal Sherry Stockhamer said.

“Zaven is incredible with our Daily students, and he is so encouraging, supportive and inspiring,” Stockhamer said. “He just appreciates the kids’ creativity, and he celebrates our students. He builds character and makes everyone feel free to contribute. Zaven is a giving, kind and gentle man but a strong leader.”

Kazazian’s kindness and leadership extend beyond the Rotary Club.

He serves on the board of directors of the Armenian American Chamber of Commerce, and working toward promoting better business relations within the community has become more than just a networking venture for him.

“Now it’s become a passion,” Kazazian said.

Kazazian is also active with the chamber’s Village Committee, which sponsors a village in Armenia and pays for residents’ basic utilities.

The Village Committee is also in the process of setting up a business to provide jobs for villagers, he said.

When he is not talking about unity or business, Kazazian donates his time to Pacific Clinics, a nonprofit agency that provides treatment options and recovery programs for people dealing with drug abuse or suffering from a mental illness.

For the last two years, he’s been on the board.

“Seeing the results of patients who have become productive members of society is rewarding,” Kazazian said.