On Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018, the St. Sarkis Church of Dallas Fort Worth unveiled the newly created Mark Aram Kechejian Award to recognize the accomplishments of an individual who has demonstrated an outstanding dedication, devotion and generosity to the children of the church. Mark Kechejian was a young church member, who donated electronic equipment to the school and was asked by the School Board to create a playground for the children. He helped channel the community’s generosity into a spectacular playground for the children of St. Sarkis before he was tragically taken from us too soon. After many years of service, the playground had to be torn down for safety reasons, and stayed empty waiting for the right people to resurrect it.
The time was now. Maral Aznavourian explained that the community needed not only a generous donor in the form of Dr. Sarkis Kechejian, uncle of Mark, and the Godfather of St. Sarkis Church, who stepped in to fund the refurbishment of the now dilapidated playground, but also the heartfelt donations of community members who covered additional expenses. There was still a need for a special individual who had the “guts, tenacity, perseverance and the heart to take this project on.”
Andrea Titoyan was that person, the first recipient of the Mark Aram Kechejian Award for 2018. Ms. Titoyan was chosen for this honor because “she put together a team, negotiated, purchased, dug, tilled and put down sod” to complete the project in record time.
Ms. Titoyan was “overwhelmed” with this honor, and thanked the many volunteers on her team especially Shant Aghyarian who selflessly devoted their time and talent to bringing back the vision of Mark Kechejian for the children. Ms. Titoyan gave a shout out to Mark Kechejian calling him “my friend in heaven.” The thunderous applause expressed the happiness of the community with the playground and Ms. Titoyan.
In gratitude to Dr. Kechejian, the children of St. Sarkis created a unique book as a “Thank You” for his generosity and for upholding the dream of Mark.
This presentation was made during an outstanding Easter luncheon lovingly prepared and served by the St. Sarkis Women’s Guild who outdid themselves as usual. The gourmet meal was the creation of the talented women who are the backbone of the church, and enlivened the Easter celebrations.
The St. Sarkis community enjoyed another luncheon the previous week on Palm Sunday, when the ACYOA youth cooked and served a wonderful meal as a fundraiser for their activities.
During the luncheon, the ACYOA honored Mrs. Aznif Altunian as the 2018 Person of the Year. Sevag Koulian explained that the ACYOA recognized Mrs. Altunian because of her guidance to the ACYOA, her support for their activities and her help in food preparation, but mostly for her “being there for us always.” Mrs. Altunian was not only delighted with this honor, but she vowed to continue helping our youth in whatever projects they wanted to undertake.
The St. Sarkis Church has been blessed with many individuals who have improved the lives of many, and ensured that the Church will continue to enlighten the future.
By Mary Mukhtarian