Project SAVE Celebrates 40 Years—and Beyond

‘40 Years and Beyond’ program MCs, Scout Tufankjian and Nubar Alexanian (Photo: Winslow Martin)

LEXINGTON, Mass.—Throughout its prolific 40-year history, Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archives has

been relentless in its pursuit of images that serve to enhance the heritage of Armenians in the diaspora.

Project SAVE Archives’ “40 Years and Beyond” celebration Nov. 21 gave the public an opportunity to thank and applaud the organization while pledging its continued support of Project SAVE’s ongoing mission.

A crowd of well-wishers and supporters turned out at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library for an event that touched all parameters, giving credence to an organization that knows no rest. It was an evening of socializing, good food (provided by Cindy Parnagian of the Party Connection, Inc. in Methuen), and visual presentations.

Event chair Nicole Babikian and event committee members (seated, L-R) Vartus Varadian and Rita Bejakian; (standing, L-R) Lorky Libaridian, Lalig Musserian, Nicole, Ruth Thomasian, and Tsoleen Sarian (Photo: Winslow Martin)

Special tribute was paid to Ruth Thomasian, founder and CEO, whose four decades of impeccable service bear added merit. Thomasian has perpetuated a unique niche in the Armenian community through the use of family photos and the production of finely crafted calendars, photo exhibits, and educational resources. During the evening of socializing, she chatted with guests from all walks of life, ages, and from far-away places including Yerevan and Mexico City.

To start the auditorium program, photographer Nubar Alexanian’s documentary film about Project SAVE was premiered. Alexanian then shared the role of master of ceremonies with Scout Tufankjian, photojournalist and author of the new book, There is only the Earth: Images from the Armenian Diaspora Project. Both Tufankjian and Alexanian spoke about their work as photographers and showcased some of their work on screen.

Event guests, (L-R) Nina and Raffi Festikjian, Rita and Jack Bejakian, and Alex Kouspakian and Tamar Shamassian (Photo: Winslow Martin)

Thomasian offered an overview of Project SAVE through the years. Her message was about the many challenges of making Project SAVE able to fulfill its Armenian heritage preservation mission, and all of the subsequent changes through the decades.

On that note of change, Thomasian introduced Project SAVE’s new associate director, Tsoleen Sarian, who many in the audience know as campaign aide to Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian. She spoke about the challenges of change that inspire her to bring Project SAVE Archives forward for the benefit of future generations, lest we forget. She reminded the audience, as Thomasian has, that “We are who we are because of the generations who have preceded us.” Project SAVE offers a look at our social history that helps us look at ourselves as well.

Maggie Mangassarian-Goschin, vice chair and director of the Ararat-Eskijian Museum, speaks after receiving Project SAVE’s Community Commitment Award. (Photo: Winslow Martin)

The celebration also included Community Commitment Awards to Tom Vartabedian, this 50-year writer/photojournalist from the Haverhill Gazette and Armenian Weekly, and Maggie Mangassarian-Goschin, vice-chairperson and director of the Ararat-Eskijian Museum in Mission Hills, Calif. The museum also has a mission to preserve Armenian heritage, and Mangassarian-Goschin herself is the catalyst that connects people and organizations around the world, including Project SAVE.

Vartabedian, a Project SAVE board member, then turned the tables and presented Thomasian with a framed enlargement of his photograph of the Haghartsin Monastery in Dilijan, Armenia. And Mangassarian-Goschin, on behalf of the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute in Yerevan, presented her with the Aurora Mardiganian Medal, with special greetings from the museum’s director, Hayk Demoyan.

Thomasian with fellow board member Tom Vartabedian with his Community Commitment Award. (Photo: Winslow Martin)

Event chair Nicole Babikian Hajjar offered gratitude on behalf of the organizing committee and praise for Project SAVE’s 40 years of accomplishments. Thomasian presented Babikian Hajjar with an award in appreciation of her dynamic leadership in helping Project SAVE move ahead; and also to committee member Vartus Varadian for her huge contribution of graphic designs that have successfully branded Project SAVE publications throughout the years and especially this year, including the 40th event collateral and the 2016 calendar.

The calendar was fresh off the press, and each guest was presented with a complimentary copy. Titled “Armenians Beyond the 100th…Our Children Carry the Light,” it highlights the merits of families celebrating our people’s rise from the desecration that battered Armenians a century ago. Calendars are available for purchase online at; by mail (by writing to P.O. Box 236, Watertown, MA 20471-0236); or in person at Project SAVE’s 65 Main St. office in Watertown Square.

From generation to generation: Tsoleen Sarian, associate director, with Ruth Thomasian, founder and CEO. (Photo: Winslow Martin)

During the program, door prizes were given to four lucky patrons. The door-prize donors were Scout Tufankjian with her book; Nubar Alexanian with his panoramic photo of the interior of Sourp Giragos Church in Diyarbakir; Tom Vartabedian with his image of Marmashen Vank near Gyumri; and Barbara Soghigian with her photo of Mount Ararat and Mount Aragats. The event also included a book signing of Tufankjian’s new book, and a “wine pull”—a fun twist on a wine sale—both of which served to benefit Project SAVE.

Among the highlights over the past 40 years, Project SAVE has:

— collected, documented, and preserved more than 45,000 original photographs;

Guest Dianne Gulkasian Rahbee with Project SAVE Simmons College former intern and now volunteer Brittany Newbury, and Project SAVE archivist Suzanne Adams (Photo: Winslow Martin)

— delivered more than 300 lectures in community and educational institutions throughout the United States and abroad;

— organized more than 40 unique photo exhibits;

— presented “Reading Photographs,” its signature educational program, to students of all ages;

— welcomed hundreds of researchers, scholars, artists, and authors to use its archival resources;

— appeared in diverse publications worldwide with its original photographs; and

— initiated digitization of photographs to bring its collections to a wider audience.

“Photographs are witnesses to our past that capture and define our identity,” said Thomasian. “They are important links between the past and the future.”

Project SAVE thanks all of its supporters for helping spread the word about its important mission: to preserve our Armenian heritage and culture through the photograph.

Source: Armenian Weekly
Link: Project SAVE Celebrates 40 Years—and Beyond

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