Two donors who both led modest lives will leave an extraordinary impact on the lives of countless residents in Armenia through their generous bequests.
Vahakn Aglamishian of Farmington Hills, Michigan, was the type of man who would buy the cheapest car on the lot but whose heart was full of love and generosity for the people of Armenia, a friend shares. That was proven tenfold when, upon his passing, Aglamishian bequeathed over $950,000 to the Armenian EyeCare Project to be used to help children and adults in the country who are in desperate need of eye care.
“He felt giving to people in need was most important,” Aglamishian’s close friend and neighbor, Mioara, said. “His heart belonged to the children and people of Armenia and he dedicated his whole life to this cause.” According to Mioara, Aglamishian was compelled to help the people of Armenia because of his family’s own tragic experience during the Genocide. Aglamishian, she said, carried the burden of the Armenian Genocide deep in his soul.
Aglamishian’s father and aunt had been the only two survivors of the Genocide from their entire extended family, which was comprised of nearly 30 members. Aglamishian’s father, who had just lost practically his entire family, was taken to an orphanage in Bucharest, Romania, where he would ultimately settle, meet his wife and start a family of his own.
Born in Bucharest in 1946, Aglamishian moved to the U.S. when he became an adult and worked as an engineer in the automotive industry. Still, he continued to keep his devotion to his Armenian heritage close to his heart. “He had thousands of books about Armenia and was always reading about the country’s affairs,” Mioara remembers. “He planned to visit Armenia but got too sick and never got around to seeing his country.”
Though Aglamishian never made it to Armenia, there will be a piece of him that lives on in Armenia forever. To celebrate Aglamishian’s life and his extraordinary commitment to the country and our organization’s efforts there, the Armenian EyeCare Project has named our fifth Regional Eye Center in his honor. The Vahakn Aglamishian AECP Regional Eye Center, which had a soft opening last fall, is located in the city of Yeghegnadzor in the Vayots Dzor province of Armenia and will allow thousands more Armenians who live in this region to have quicker and more efficient access to eye care year-round.
Mioara says this lifelong legacy that Aglamishian leaves behind fits his character perfectly. “Vahakn was such a humble man living such a humble life,” she says. “But he left a big impact on many people. He was like a hidden pearl — how precious he was. All he wanted was to be a help to his people.”
With his generous bequest, there is no doubt Aglamishian will be an enormous help to people in need across Armenia. “We’re only in this world a short time,” Aglamishian’s friend, Mioara, says. “What we do in that time, we leave behind for people to discover. That is what Vahakn did and it’s a wonderful thing.”
Minas Minasian was also a simple man with a huge heart. Born in Worcester, Massachusetts, Minasian always cared deeply about Armenian causes and made contributions to several Armenian organizations in his lifetime. Donating over $600,000 to the Armenian EyeCare Project during his life and bequeathing over $500,000 to our organization upon his passing last year, Minasian has contributed over $1 million to the Armenian EyeCare Project alone to be used for our several sight-saving services in Armenia.
Serving in the armed forces during World War II and working as an accountant upon returning from service, Minasian was a hard worker who lived modestly throughout his entire life. Instead of spending his earnings on lavish material goods, Minasian placed value on things he deemed more important, like family. He looked after his older sister when she became ill and spent quality time with his father and mother as they shared stories of their lives “back home” in Kharpert (historic Armenia.)
In fact, when making his generous donations, Minasian would always insist: “This is not from me, but from my father, my mother and my sister.” He was simple yet profound, knowing that the true value of life came from helping others. “I have everything I need: shelter, food and a warm bed,” Minasian once said. “Now I want to help my nation, the people of Armenia.”
There is no doubt that with the over $1 million Minasian has donated to the Armenian EyeCare Project, he will have a powerful impact on the people of Armenia, as he wished to have.
The Armenian EyeCare Project is financed entirely through donations. So when a contribution is made to our organization, in any amount, it means we are able to continue our sight-saving programs and services in Armenia. The incredible generosity in the form of posthumous bequests from both Aglamishian and Minasian will have a life-long impact on eye care in Armenia that will last for generations to come.