Julie Ashekian's work with orphans began when the earthquake of 1988 struck. At the invitation of Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Ms Ashekian became godparent to an earthquake orphan in 1989 and helped to coordinate 'Diocesan Winter Relief' at her local parish in Hartford, Connecticut. In 1992, Archbishop Barsamian approached the Women's Guild Central Council to establish a program aiming to assist many other such orphaned children. The Primate approached Ms Ashekian once again, asking if she would coordinate such a program - thus the Children of Armenia Sponsorship Program (CASP) was created.
Ms Ashekian served as its National Coordinator from 1992-2003 along with her husband, Clement, who took over the organization's administrative operations. Julie worked as a volunteer for 11 years and Clement for 10 years from their home, which served as CASP headquarters throughout that period. Numerous construction and renovation projects were accomplished under her guidance - also in schools. CASP began with 200 children, and during Ms Ashekian's twelve-year involvement, the organization touched the lives of over 9,000 children. Mr and Mrs Ashekian were recipients of the St. Nersess Shnorhali Medal in 1996, additionally Ms Ashekian was chosen as "Armenian of the Year" at the 2001 Diocesan Assembly. Mer Doon is honored to have the Ashekians on their board, serving as our US Co-ordinators. They have two grown children and are both fluent in English and Armenian.