Armenian Center Strives to Help

When the calls for help started to come in, the local Armenian Center gathered resources to lend a hand.

Photo by Mary O’KEEFE
Volunteers at the Meher & Satig Der Ohanessian Youth Center in Montrose create packages that will be delivered to those in need.


It seems that since the spread of COVID-19 and resulting shutdowns, news has been bleak. Some information that has been shared is about the ugly side of society; the panic, the fear and the hatred that has infected the world. But other news, like neighbors helping neighbors get groceries, parades of cars for a child’s birthday, and big corporations offering discounts and payment deferrals, are ever-present as well. It’s these stories of kindness, hope and compassion that can serve as fuel to boost people through these strange and scary times. For the Crescenta Valley Armenian Center, also known as the Meher & Satig Der Ohanessian Youth Center, being part of the solution and perpetuating good news is the name of the game.

Mainly focused on CV’s youth, the Center has been operating since 1992. Activities offered have included a Saturday Armenian language and history school, athletics, chess club, and summer day camp, to name a few. And, like other community centers and non-profits in the area, COVID-19 was an opportunity to extend a helping hand.

Businesses like Byblos in La Crescenta have given support to the Center.

The Center started receiving calls for help from community members at the beginning of April.

“Once the lockdown started, we understood from our members that certain segments of the population needed help with a variety of issues,” said board of directors Chairperson Mike Kalachian. Members of the Center acted quickly under the guidance of the Center’s team. 

“We organized ourselves and announced our readiness to help the community in whatever is needed, [such as] food packages, guidance with filing for unemployment insurance, mortgage or rent deferment, small business loans … via our Facebook page,” Kalachian added.

Since the beginning of April, the Center has received about 20 phone calls per day from people seeking assistance. Members started to help by putting together care packages of products that the Center purchased and the community donated. The result is a sort of food bank where those in need can either visit the Center and pick up a care package or a package can be delivered to their doorstep. Earlier this week, Center youth delivered about 20 packages to the CV Sheriff’s Station to assist it in its efforts of providing help to the community.

The outpouring of help from Center members and the community is apparent. Center members plan on being of assistance as long as is necessary, and as long as the donations continue to pour in.

“We would welcome any donations of packaged food or financial help that would allow us to procure more [so we don’t] run out of food to give out,” Kalachian said.

The Meher & Satig Der Ohanessian Youth Center is located at 2633 Honolulu Ave. in Montrose. The Center’s phone number, which is also the Center’s hotline for donations and assistance, is (818) 527-6361.