Armenian tree project

About 150 volunteers helped planted 20,000 trees in a memorial forest honoring Sosé Thomassian and Allen Yekikian, a young couple whose unexpected death last year shook the Glendale Armenian community. The remaining of the planned 50,000 trees will be planted in the fall. Some of the volunteers included Vaché Thomassian (top left), Vrej Haroutounian (top right), Ali Hamlin (bottom left) and Nina Roma Agvanian (bottom right). (Courtesy of Emily Kaldjian / April 24, 2014)

About 150 volunteers planted 20,000 evergreen trees in an Armenian village last week, the first round of trees that are set to fill a memorial forest honoring a young couple whose unexpected deaths shocked the Glendale Armenian community.

As part of a social-media campaign, the Armenian Tree Project, an environmental nonprofit, pledged to plant up to 50,000 trees to celebrate the humanitarian work done by Sosé Thomassian and Allen Yekikian, who died in a car accident during their honeymoon in the country of Georgia last May.

The organization, which partnered with the Sosé & Allen Legacy Foundation, plans to plant the remaining 30,000 trees in Stepanavan, Armenia, which is about three hours from the capital of Yerevan, in the fall.

“This is a living and breathing tribute to two special people,” said Vaché Thomassian, Sosé Thomassian’s brother. “The fact that more than 10,000 people participated in this campaign goes to show the amount of lives Sosé & Allen touched. I look forward to visiting Stepanavan over the next years and decades to see this forest grow.”

The couple met through the La Crescenta chapter of the Armenian Youth Federation. Sosé Thomassian, 30, and Yekikian, 28, moved to Armenia after their destination wedding there. Their deaths prompted local memorial events, YouTube tributes and obituaries in Armenian publications in Glendale and abroad.

Armenia currently has 12.5% tree cover and the Armenia Tree Project hopes to increase that to 25% over time. Many of Armenia’s trees were cut down during an energy crisis in the 1990s.

The Sosé & Allen Legacy Foundation is set to host a fundraising concert on May 4 to help renovate a youth center in Proshyan, Armenia, where the couple once organized summer camps. The 6 p.m. concert will include musical guests Sebu Simonian, of the indie pop band Capital Cities, Element Band, which plays international music, and others.

Tickets range from $35 to $100 and can be purchased at itsmyseat.com/soseandallen.

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Follow Brittany Levine on Google+ and on Twitter: @brittanylevine.

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