Forum: Amenian festival shows global reach of vounteers

A Kamiak student helped organize a festival and fundraiser for the people of a troubled region.

Matthew Leger

By Matthew Leger / Herald Forum

Last Saturday, Sept. 16, church officials and community leaders held the sixth annual Armenian Festival of Seattle. Home to food, live music, games, and artisanal goods, the festival brought in well over 2,000 people from around the state, and brought in more than $50,000 to help with the humanitarian crisis in the Republic of Artsakh.

Unfortunately timely, the crisis in Artsakh has seen a resurgence in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, situated between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

To pull off such a gathering, one needs hours of planning, months of preparation, and crucially, dozens of volunteers. Of these volunteers was Andre Akopyan, a Kamiak High School student and heavily involved member of the Armenian community. He and his family acted as volunteer coordinators for the event; he the volunteer, and his mother the coordinator.

“We began organizing the festival last year with vendors and businesses who wanted to be a part of the festival,” Andre explained. “This year had so many people at our little church that we are going to have to move to a larger venue next year. Over the years of helping with the festival, I have been able to connect with so many in the community.

“Even though I am simply doing traffic and garbage control, it has been a great way to feel like I am serving a greater purpose,” he said.

This sense of purpose and connectivity is why many community projects exist.

Community is one of humanity’s greatest needs. From reccreational league soccer to the Macy’s Day parade to the Armenian Festival of Seattle, millions have gathered over hundreds of years to meet new people and foster new communities.

However, covid disrupted this immensely, as with all other aspects of life. People had a harder time than ever to connect with and maintain connections with friends, family and theircommunity.

Here’s where community events and efforts come in. With the busy lives of everyone, having purpose is a great motivator for action. Helping people is a great purpose. Whether through your church, school, Facebook group, or YMCA, there are countless opportunities and locations to volunteer.

Volunteering at a food bank, homeless shelter, or even the Armenian Festival of Seattle is a great place to do so. The festival was a beacon of the community efforts that hold up America.

Volunteers are the pillars of such a beacon.

Matthew Leger is a junior at Kamiak High School in Mukilteo. He is writing essays for Herald Forum about nonprofit groups in Snohomish County.

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