A Californian by way of Beirut, Lebanon and Kuwait, Hrag Ohannessian credits his mother for developing his strong Armenian identity. He recalls how she often spoke of AGBU even though there wasn’t a chapter in Kuwait.
Following graduation from Kuwait’s Armenian School, Ohannessian moved to California to study Electrical Engineering at Cal State Fullerton. After settling in Granada Hills and starting a family, he started getting involved in AGBU’s San Fernando Valley Scouting Program, then the Chapter. Soon after he became its Chapter Chair.
While working at a Consumer Electronics Technology Company, with an extensive travel schedule, he always finds time to serve and strengthen the AGBU mission.
AGBU is like a big tree that provides to the community. Today’s volunteers are what make it beautiful and provide shade to others.
What drives you to take so much time to volunteer for AGBU? I believe in mission and hope that if every community member can make a difference in one other person’s life, we’d be a community of volunteers who give back continuously, making our society a better place for all.
What part of your involvement gives you the most satisfaction? The look on the faces of our youth when they see the results of their hard work, after volunteering for a project.
What is the biggest challenge? Connecting the youth with our mission and help them appreciate the importance of giving back without expecting anything in return. Nevertheless we continue our work with passion and even see glimmers of light in some members of the youth, like the YP leaders. When we expect nothing in return is when we feel most fulfilled.
What values and goals do you want the younger generation to be guided by? In a world that is infinitely smaller than before, thanks to globalization and technology, put a little “extra” in your effort to differentiate us Armenians as extraordinary.
Any lessons in community leadership you can share? Listen to others’ advice, criticisms and suggestions. People who speak up actually care and want to make things better, each in their unique way.
Any final words of inspiration? AGBU is like a big tree that provides to the community. Today’s volunteers are what make it beautiful and provide shade to others. Our founders’ vision is the root that makes this century-old tree stand tall.
Banner Illustration by Luis Tinoco