The Armenian Relief Society (ARS) is a non-profit, independent, non-sectarian and non-governmental organization (NGO), a member of the United Nations - with affiliate entities in 27 different countries serving the social, educational, health, and welfare efforts of the Armenian people throughout the world.
Our Granite City Reubena ARS chapter is named after the Armenian war heroine Reubena. The chapter’s story began in 1913, when three women took steps to form an Armenian Relief Society chapter. These founders were Mrs. Mary Asadorian, Mrs. Acabie Avakian and Mrs. Takouhi Depigian. Mrs. Hamaspur Vartan joined the chapter soon after. They held monthly meetings and paid annual dues of 10 cents.The chapter grew as the community grew. Joining the ARS Reubena Chapter members were Mrs. Aznif Tatosian and Mrs. Nubar Gdoian in 1919; Mrs. Parantzem Haroian and Mrs. Parantzem Hortigian in 1921; Mrs. Zarouhi Bogosian, Mrs. Nevarte S. Hagopian and Mrs. Aznif Malmoolian in 1923; Mrs. Zabel Torosian and Mrs. Nina Takmajian in 1924; and Mrs. Makrouhi Manoogian, Mrs. Vartouhi Mouradian and Mrs. Agavhni Ohanesian in 1925.
In 1932, when General Karekin Nejdeh visited Granite City to initiate a local Armenian Youth Federation chapter, he also inducted new ARS members Mrs. Nevarte K. Hagopian, Mrs. Haiganoush Parsaghian and Mrs. Margaret Manoogian.
Over the years, the Reubena Chapter maintained an Armenian School program and many members participated as teachers. Classes were held at the Armenian Club and students paid a 50-cent monthly tuition. They also actively supported the local ARF Gomideh and responded to the needs of Armenians living throughout the Diaspora with shipments of clothing.
ARS chapters also existed in East St. Louis , IL and St. Louis , MO. As their members relocated, these two chapters disbanded and many of their members joined the Reubena Chapter. When all three chapters existed, they hosted a joint ARS anniversary celebration. At one time, there was a Senior chapter and a Junior chapter. However, over the years, the chapters combined their efforts.
Consistent with the ideals of the ARS, the Reubena chapter has assisted the ARF and AYF, and has made its presence known in the wider community with ethnic dance performances at the International Institute in St. Louis and performance of plays, such as “Anoush.” The chapter was also responsible for securing a mammography machine and other medical equipment and supplies for the ARS Mother and Child Health and Birthing Center in Akhourian , Armenia .
The Reubena Chapter continues to grow, thrive, and work in the spirit that brought its founding members together in 1913 as the ARS embarks on its next century of service.