Volunteer of the Month: Alice Antranikian

When somebody makes something work better, we say, “They really made it sing!” Well, volunteer Alice Antranikian has really made our Centre sing—literally. Almost five years ago, she founded the Amaryllis  Singing Group, which meets every Monday at 11 a.m.

If you love the jazz, musicals, and pop of the 1920s-1950s, this group is for you.

“Jerome Kern, Cole Porter… that was an era of great music,” says Alice. She knows a thing or two about great music: First in Europe, later in Vancouver, she was a professional opera singer. “Opera is poetry. My life is poetry.”

Yet Alice’s connection with the Centre didn’t start with music. Jewellery came before that. And before that … her mother. “About 1990, we sold the family [jewellery] business,” explains Alice. “I was looking for a new place for my mother to go, where she could be active and involved with other people. It had to be convenient, nearby, and the South Granville Seniors Centre met the requirement.”

Her mum did become active here, and Alice joined in after a while . “It must have been about 10 years ago” she says, “when my mother had me come with her to a Holly Bazaar. Of course, with our background, I was immediately interested in the jewellery table.” She laughs that big, generous laugh of hers. “I thought, I bet I could help them make even more money at this table!”

Alice achieved just that: A ten-fold increase in sales. She did it with her expertise in that field, plus a whole lot of hard slogging. In fact, for two and a half years, she did two solid months of prep for the entire Bazaar that included pricing all items and repairing and cleaning them as needed.

Ask her why she works so hard for the Centre, and you discover it’s about a lot more than an affinity with jewellery and singing. It’s about her identity as a human being, and her values. “I am an Armenian, born in Ethiopia. I grew up in France, I worked in Europe, and I came to Canada. Armenian, Ethiopian, French, Canadian — I am all these cultures. This Centre is also culturally diverse. It is a place where I, where we can all, be fully ourselves”.

She adds, “I saw right away that this was a good place for my mother. I decided that if it’s good for my mother, then it is good for everybody. So if I can help out — why not?”


Story and pictures by Penny Williams.