With the birth of the San Francisco Chapter in 1970, Homenetmen as an Organization began its activities in the Northern California Bay Area. Many of the young athletes who were residents of the South Bay area (Silicon Valley/ Santa Clara County/San Jose) joined the SF Chapter.
In early 1990 , three young athletes/ members of Homenetmen San Francisco Chapter residing in Silicon Valley, namely Y. Vahe Baronian, Y. Shahig Aghababian and Y. Jano Khatchian, started vocalizing the need to establishing a new Homenetmen Chapter in San Jose. By the early 1990’s there were about 600 Armenian families who lived in the greater San Jose area and creating a new Chapter sounded practical and appealing.
This idea was brought to the attention of Y. Jirair Sarkissian in San Francisco, who was then the Chairman of the Homenetmen San Francisco Chapter. After consultations with Y. Koko Balian, then the Chairman of Homenetmen Western USA Region and others, within few months an initial meeting was held, where 25 parents and Homenetmen representatives got together and agreed to formally request from the Western USA Region Executive Committee into establishing a new Chapter in Santa Clara.
Homenetmen Santa Clara Chapter was officially established on May 12, 1991 during a meeting that took place at the St. Andrew Armenian Church, in Cupertino. K. Maro Keshishian, the Western US Regional Executive Committee representative, was joined by thirty-five members at that meeting. A local Executive Committee comprised of seven members was elected and activities began. That same year, on July 4th, the Santa Clara Chapter Executive Committee, along with a single athlete, proudly participated in the closing ceremonies of the Navasartian Games. Later that year, the Chapter had another milestone; it endorsed “ANI” as its official name.
From the beginning, the Chapter’s leaders realized of the importance of Scouts as a most essential Section in Homenetmen. After contacting the Boy Scouts of America, Scout Troop 300 was established in September 1991. At the St. Andrew Armenian Church and in the presence of many parents and members, Der Vazken Movsesian, the parish priest, blessed the Homenetmen flags on the Church grounds and “ANI” Scouts was officially established. It is very important to stress the help and support that our Chapter received from St. Andrew Armenian Church Parish Priest Der. Vazken Movsesian; he opened the doors of the church to Homenetmen “ANI” to hold meetings as well as for scout and athletic group gatherings. “ANI” Chapter owes many thanks to Der Vazken for his support and vision, as well as to all the consecutive St Andrew Parish Councils and later to Der Datev Harutiounian, for their continued support.
The first two to three years were the foundation years of the newly formed Chapter. Bringing in new members into the Organization and finding/ renting gyms to hold soccer, basketball and volleyball practices were the top initial priorities for the Chapter. By 1994 our athletic teams were already competitive and “ANI” Chapter was able to win a couple of overall trophies during the Navasartian games. In 1995 “ANI” Chapter came in only 2nd to the mighty Ararat Chapter. We received 4 out of 7 overall trophies that summer, a major achievement. Since then “ANI” chapter has won many overall trophies every year. Needless to say that such success came only with hard work from executives, parents and members. That spirit still continues.
All through the years there were some key individuals who helped bring the Chapter to new heights. Among the many, we should mention Hrair Tashjian who was the relentlessly hard working Chairman of the Executive Committee for many years, as well as Vahe Baronian and Hagop Stephanian who were the dedicated and charismatic leaders of the athletic teams. Although it is impossible to mention all who over the years had an impact on the Chapter’s ascent, the following additional individuals certainly had a positive mark: Artoush Khachaturian, Boghos Chanchanian, Varouj Baghdasarian, Roland Matian, Tsolag Panossian, Norik Ohanians, Hamo Yakopian, Rupen Deylan, Hrair Moroyan, George Krikorian, Vasken Arzoumanian, Shahe Yeni-Komshian and others .Additionally, the following should be recognized: Mardig Chanchanian, Janet Taheri, Denchour Vartanian, Vera Moroyan, Zaven Soghoyan, Araxie Arzoumanian,Haig Kambourian, Anoush Sardariani and others.
The Scout activities did also evolve over time. Y. Shahig Aghababian was the first scout troop leader and under his guidance the scout group flourished and progressed. The following subsequent leaders have also left their positive mark: Maral Panossian, Rina Chanchanian, Garine Panossian, Vahe Manugian, Steve Ohanian, Marine Ohanian, Ramalla Khachaturian Shant Krikorian, Sevan Ohanian, Melan Mandani, Taleen Moroyan, Hourie Mekhjian, Aline Mekhjian, Sevan Taheri, Shahan Staphanian, Harout Mekhjian, and Allan Enemark.
In the summer of 1998, the First Pan Homenetmen scout jamboree took place in Armenia and our Chapter was represented with 17 boy and girl scouts. Subsequently our Chapter participated in other Pan Homenetmen Jamborees too. The scout troop continues its many exciting activities to the present day. It is noteworthy to mention the cooperation with the other local sister chapters: Homenetmen San Francisco , Walnut Creek as well as the Fresno Chapter, with whom many joint camps, educational activities and meetings have taken place.
The Chapter in its short history has had many memorable events be it at the Navasartian Games, during our local Scout Camps, during the Pan Homenetmen Jamborees in Armenia, and at the many family oriented joyful social events. But by far the most memorable event was the visit in February 1996 to the Bay Area of his Holiness Catholicos of all Armenians Karekin I, who met at length with our scouts, adding a most memorable memento to the Chapter’s history.
Homenetmen Santa Clara “ANI” Chapter at the present time consists of 138 members, of which 15 are athletes and 28 are scouts. It has many committees, such as the athletic committee, the scout committee, social, educational and public relations committees. Since February 2004, it publishes its own Newsletter, also named”Ani”. Currently, “ANI” Chapter has 2 basketball (one girl’s), in addition to athletes participating in track and field, swimming, tennis and table tennis.
For many years our Chapter’s financial situation was dependant on donations from parents, different fundraising activities and on generous God Fathers who helped in securing funds. In early 2004, a new Finance committee was established to start the important step of securing our own center in Santa Clara County. To achieve that goal, an Investment Council with a five year plan/authority/responsibility was elected. The Council’s Strategic Plan has many phases, the first phase being an investment outside the Silicon Valley area where real estate investments are still affordable. This first step was successfully achieved in July of 2005 with the purchase of a rental property in Fresno. This investment will serve as the capital/down payment for our future local Gym purchase, soon in Santa Clara.
With already a colorful past, Homenetmen “ANI” Chapter is preparing to celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2016.