It was a pun-filled night at the Hebrew Center as the longtime coordinator of the Island Food Pantry, Armen Hanjian, was honored and thanked for his 20 years of service. Mr. Hanjian and wife Vicky Hanjian throw the annual dinner to thank the 45 volunteers who work at the pantry in Vineyard Haven. This year, as Mr. Hanjian steps down as Food Pantry coordinator, the group of volunteers took the opportunity to thank him and crack a few jokes.
“Armen is known for his puns,” Margaret Hanneman, new coordinator for the Island Food Pantry, said. “Many of the speakers threw in jokes, like, ‘What did the two loaves of bread do who wanted to get married? They eloafed.’”
Nearly half of the volunteers stood up after dinner to express their gratitude, including Marit Bezahler, who was a food pantry recipient before becoming a volunteer. She and many others said that Mr. Hanjian set a wonderful example for the group ,and they would be sad to see him go. Mr. Hanjian will stay on until the end of the year to help out with the transition.
Some volunteers said they started volunteering to help the community, but stayed for the experience of working with Mr. Hanjian. In his 20 years as coordinator, Mr. Hanjian has overseen the distribution of 90,000 bags of food, which is enough food to stack as high as the Empire State Building 108 times, Ms. Hanneman said in her thank-you speech.
Volunteers signed the pantry’s brown paper bags and gave them to Mr. Hanjian, along with a few bags filled with pantry food staples, a customized jigsaw puzzle (with a picture of all the volunteers on it), and a CSA subscription to Ghost Island Farm. Chilmark Chocolates also sent a box of chocolates to Mr. Hanjian.
“I’ve been blessed and privileged to work with Armen for a short time,” Ms. Hanneman said. “I learned a lot from him, and we’re going to carry on the best we can.”