Saturday, January 08, 2011

Message to Friends of the Monte Melkonian Fund

January 7, 2011

Dear Friends and Supporters of the Monte Melkonian Fund,

Together we have done much in the past fifteen years to be proud of. Thanks to you, the Monte Melkonian Fund, Inc. has extended a hand to some of those whom we have called the neediest of the needy in Armenia. Hundreds of children have benefited from our support—school-age children, children at risk of malnutrition and exposure, children in need of medical attention. So have scores of single-parent families, expecting mothers, and victims of war and economic displacement. Indeed, the nation as a whole has benefited from special projects the Fund has undertaken.

Conditions in Armenia and the diaspora have changed over the last years, however, and we have had to make some difficult decisions. We would like to take a moment to review the road already traveled and then update you, our supporters and friends, about recent changes.

Work to Be Proud of:

Working with the Monte Melkonian Benevolent Organization (the MMBO), a registered charitable non-governmental organization in Yerevan, we have over the past fifteen years provided tens of thousands of dollars of monetary donations, and several millions of dollars worth of in-kind donations. This assistance has included hundreds of boxes of hospital equipment--everything from C-section kits and IV sets to scores of wheelchairs and over one hundred hospital beds, as well as gurneys, surgical tables, and delivery beds. We’ve provided prenatal vitamins to expecting mothers, and nutritional supplements to hundreds of children.

The Fund has helped finance construction and renovation work at schools, daycare centers, clinics, and hospitals, including the regional hospital of Berdzor in Kashatagh and the Monte Melkonian Hospital in Martuni. The Fund has helped our sister organization, the MMBO, solve the drinking water problems of such communities as Maghavouz and Arakel-Saralandj, in the Martakert and Hadrout regions respectively.

Fund-supported construction and repair projects have provided jobs and means of earning a living for many of our compatriots. This includes livestock-breeding and bee-keeping ventures in and around the Kashatagh region, and our Cow Pass-On Project, which has provided needy families with a source of milk and a dignified means of income. The Pass-On Project has been extended from the village of Karegah to other villages in the Kashatagh and Martakaret regions of Artsakh, and to Azatavan and Arshat, in the Republic of Armenia.

Thanks to our late benefactor Nazaret Berberian, we were able to provide weaving looms for small cooperative enterprises in Armenia. We have also provided direct monetary and in-kind aid to families and individuals displaced by war and poverty, and zero-interest microcredit to farming families.
Over the years you might have heard about our assistance to the very successful Smbat Tatosian Youth Center in the village of Karegah, in the Kashatagh region. The Fund has also helped establish similar centers in the villages of Khachig and Azatavan, in the Republic of Armenia.

You might also have heard about special projects that the Fund has undertaken, including raising money to cover the costs of special medical treatment for severely injured war victims.
With Fund support, the MMBO has been able to provide blind students in Armenia with the means to pursue their academic studies. Visually impaired students have received computers, recorders, digital readers, and voice-recognition software. Working hand-in-hand with sister charities, we have also helped finance the conversion of university textbooks to audio books, and the distribution of the recorded material to these deserving special-needs students.

Another special project, which the Fund initiated in 2005, helped to safeguard irreplaceable neolithic artifacts at the Medzamor Museum, located fifteen kilometers west of Etchmiadzin. The Museum building and grounds had fallen into serious disrepair in the early 1990s, putting excavated artifacts, some dating to 5000 BC, in imminent danger of decomposition. The Fund replaced the damaged roof of the main museum building, repaired the plumbing and electrical systems, and installed air conditioning and heating systems. Without the Fund, these repairs would not have taken place in a timely manner, and this legacy of Armenia’s prehistoric past would have remained at risk.

The Decision to Dissolve the Fund:

The Fund has indeed accomplished much to be proud of. For the past several years, however, we have faced the same problem that many other charities have been facing, namely donor fatigue. Donations and volunteers have tapered off, to the point where we can no longer justify continued operation. This, despite the fact that over the course of its fifteen-year existence the Fund has operated on a purely volunteer basis, with no overhead and no operating expenses. Under these circumstances, we have judged that it would be preferable for a charity bearing the name of Monte Melkonian to dissolve rather than to operate at suboptimal commitment.

The Directors have filed dissolution papers for the Fund. We did this at our own initiative, and at the time of filing the Fund was in excellent standing with the Secretary of State of California.

Although the Monte Melkonian Fund, Inc. has been officially dissolved as a California 501(c)(3) charitable organization, our commitment to the welfare of Armenia remains undiminished. All funds that have remained in the Fund’s bank account have been transferred to the MMBO to support their good work in Armenia, except for funds explicitly donated to special projects. The latter are being held only until they can be disbursed most effectively to the special projects for which their donors have explicitly earmarked their contributions. As always, we have done our best to ensure that donations, every penny of them, reach their intended beneficiaries.

The Good News:

The needs are as great as ever and much work remains to be done, but it seems that priorities have shifted, both in Armenia and in the diaspora. Nevertheless, the good work of the MMBO continues unabated. This includes the youth centers, the Cow Pass-On Project, the drinking water projects, the support to schools, hospitals and clinics, assistance to blind students, and direct assistance to vulnerable families.

We, the former Directors and friends of the Fund, will continue as in the past to support our sister organization, the MMBO, but we will now do so directly. We urge you to join us. The address of the MMBO is:

The Monte Melkonian Benevolent Organization
Goryoun 5
Yerevan 25, Armenia
Tel. 58-11-02

Donations (not tax deductible) can be made via wire transfer to:

Beneficiary Bank: Ameriabank JSC
Bank Address: V. Sargsyan Str. 2, Yerevan, 375010 Armenia,
Swift Code: ARMIAM22
Correspondent bank: Citibank N.A., New York,
Swift Code: CITIUS33, ACC.36116208
Beneficiary: The Monte Melkonian Benevolent Organization
Account No. of Beneficiary: USD 1570001006260301

Over the years we have worked hand-in-hand with Friends of Armenia (Hayrenik Miyutyun), our sister organization in the Los Angeles area. Should your contributions be contingent on considerations of tax deductible status, we urge you to send your donations to Friends of Armenia:

Friends of Armenia
P.O. Box 1149
Montebello, CA 90640

On behalf of the former Directors of the Monte Melkonian Fund, Inc., we wish to thank you for your generous support over the course of the past fifteen years.

Here is wishing you and yours the very best in 2011.

With heartfelt gratitude for your faithful support over the years,

Vahe Kazanjian
Hacob Mkrdchian
Angela Barseghian
Markar Melkonian
Zaven Kanneian
Roupen Donikian
Marcia Melkonian

Former Directors and Friends of the Monte Melkonian Fund, Inc.
P.O. Box 291411
Los Angeles, CA 90027

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