AGBU has been part of my family tree and I believe it is my calling. The organization has allowed me to lay the groundwork for the rest of my life.
As we begin to break more barriers since the start of the global pandemic, Krikor Demirdjian, Chairman of the AGBU Pasadena-Glendale Chapter, strives to lead his community in building stronger relationships and taking part in community events offered at the AGBU Vatche & Tamar Manoukian Center.
How did you get involved with AGBU? What drew you to the organization?
My grandfather Avedis Demirjian was a benefactor in Syria and my parents met through AGBU in Lebanon, where my father was the treasurer and my mother was part of the theatre group. The organization naturally became family to me since birth. I would spend 5 days a week at “agoump” (a gathering place for the AGBU community), and we all became so close. It was out of necessity for us to come together because we were a small Armenian community in a foreign land and I am so proud of the connections I have made and the people I still have in my life. AGBU has been part of my life’s calling and I always knew I would end up here. I cannot see my life without AGBU in it - I will always be part of it.
How many years have you been involved with AGBU and the AGBU Pasadena-Glendale Chapter?
Like I mentioned, most of my life was spent at AGBU. I attended the AGBU Demirjian School in Beirut. I was a boy scout from ages 7-15. In 1986, I flew to Los Angeles as part of the scouts marching band that was invited to perform during the AGBU World Games. That was a spectacular experience and exposed me to more of the community in the US. I later moved to America and joined the basketball team with the Glendale Chapter for about 4 years. Once I was in college, I stepped away from AGBU to focus on school and later my career, so it was really the only period of time that I was not as involved because I wanted to focus on my studies. I came back in 2015 as the treasurer for AGBU Pasadena-Glendale Chapter and later became the Chairman for the AGBU Pasadena-Glendale Chapter. I am currently still in that role and so happy that I am still part of this amazing network and organization.
What are AGBU Pasadena-Glendale Chapter’s goals? How does it serve the local community?
The AGBU Pasadena-Glendale Chapter has so many great things to look forward to. As of right now, we are just coming out of the lockdown so we are easing back into our programs. Our scouts were the first ones to start their activities in May, which culminated with their “Kharouyg” at the end of July to close out their camp. This past July, our new Athletics Coordinator, Zorik Isajane, joined and got our Athletics Department up and running again, which has been such a huge accomplishment for the chapter. With so many great events coming up like Armenian Fest and Bardez, I think we are really bridging the gap since the pandemic and bringing our community closer together. We have seen people make lifelong friendships and relationships - it has given everyone some type of outlet and helped the community build an identity. It is a home away from home. The Pasadena-Glendale Chapter allows people to help feel their roots and where they come from.
If you could describe the AGBU Pasadena-Glendale Chapter program in only 3 words, what would they be?
Dynamic. Resourceful. Charitable.
How has your involvement with AGBU shaped who you are with family, friends, career, etc.?
AGBU has improved me on a personal level. I have made lifelong relationships; I have become a better leader and better speaker. As a financial advisor, it has also helped me hone in on my skills and become the best version of myself in my career. AGBU has been part of my family tree and I believe it is my calling. The organization has allowed me to lay the groundwork for the rest of my life.
What are your goals in 2021 with regards to AGBU?
Well, the goal is to grow! COVID sort of pushed us back a bit but we are rebuilding. We want to grow the sports teams, scouts and add value to our community. We recently added chess to the sports program to help kids hone their skills and enhance their brainpower. We want to add other programs such as screenwriting classes, STEM classes and so much more. The objective is to expand because it will give the community something to hold onto.
What is one thing about AGBU that you wish people knew?
I think people don’t understand the vast scope of AGBU and what we do. The cultural programs and all of the youth programs are not as well known! People think of us as a charity, but we have a plethora of offerings for our community. I wish everyone knew that there is really something for everyone. Obviously, on the grassroots level, we have athletics and scouts programs. However, we also have Camp Amaras during the summer, which is a day camp for kids. We have added dance classes for kids age 5-18 at Boyadjian Hall where they are taught Armenian and Modern dance. Furthermore, our annual Armenian Fest is an event that brings our local community together for a weekend of athletic games combined with cultural and entertainment acts that galvanize the Pasadena/Glendale Chapter and has become our anchor event of the year.
Two fun facts about you:
I have a photographic memory. If I read something, I will remember it! I speak 4 languages: Armenian, Arabic, English and French!
Just for fun, what is your favorite Armenian dish?
Chiquefte. You can’t go wrong with that!
A quote that inspires you:
“That which does not kill us only makes us stronger”. That is the motto for my life.