Jirair Hovnanian participated in a number of personal interest and philanthropic causes throughout his life.
Hovnanian was an avid sport fisherman. In August 1992 he and four others survived the sinking of his 127-foot-long (39 m) mega yacht, Lady Anna 90 miles (140 km) east-southeast off of Cape May, New Jersey.
Hovnanian and two scientists teamed up to found Nature's Wonder, a Philadelphia metropolitan area company that extracts a product from peat that encourages plant growth. Hovnanian was, himself, a champion grower of roses.
Hovnanian founded the Center for the Advancement of Natural Discoveries using Light Emission (CANDLE) in Armenia, his family's homeland before his parents fled to Iraq. The center, which is located in Yerevan, Armenia, "generates beams of ultraviolet light for protein crystallography." It helps to employ Armenian scientists who would otherwise have to move abroad to find work.
He also supported the Burlington County Boy Scout Council. To help future students, Hovnanian founded the Jirair S. Hovnanian Scholarship Fund.
Hovnanian received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 2006 from the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations Inc.
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