Friends of Warm Hearth, Inc.

Friends of Warm Hearth provides a holistic community-based group home that cares for the bodies, minds and souls of Armenian orphans with disabilities. We Value - Our residents' social, physical, mental, spiritual and vocational development - Community integration that honors culture & tradition - Dignity, respect, choice, fulfillment, privacy and independence - Individualized care that empowers our residents to live as independently and confidently as possible, while consistently contributing to their community Motivation - To prevent orphaned adults with mental illness or disabilities from being forced to spend the remainder of their lives in the psychiatric institutions of Armen...
Feb 2, 2012

In Winter Enjoy ~ Annual Report 2011

Dear friends,

In seedtime learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.  (William Blake)

It is striking to me that the new year, the time to begin again, occurs midwinter when nights are longest and feast days have just passed.  In this season, the daylight hours are a promise of what is to come as they are only beginning to lengthen again toward the balance of equinox.  It is in this quiet space that we consider both the past year and the year to come. 

In seedtime learn

Each year has its seasons of learning, its seedtime.  This year we brought Alya, our Armenian Country Director, to the United States.  We wanted to see the daily routine and management of various group homes in order to strengthen our own ability to manage difficult behaviors and residents with complicated diagnoses.

While I missed going to Armenia this year (we couldn’t manage both) and seeing our dear residents, it seemed fitting to allow her the extraordinary chance to see other group homes.  Because ours was the first - and only - long-term group home in Armenia, she had never had the opportunity to see another.  Our time together here was rich and sparked a renewed commitment to bring Anna and Sassoon home from the clinics in the spring.  (Read more on page 3 of the attached Annual Report.)

While observing different group homes, we felt validated in that the most important components of a loving group home are in place at Warm Hearth.  We were exposed to new ways of caring for individuals with particular behavioral challenges.  We were reminded that the struggles we face are by nature part of this work and are not endured by us alone.

In harvest teach

In 2011, we enjoyed the gifts of each particular season and helped our residents do the same.  As in any endeavor, and in any human life, there were unexpected losses and surprising bounties along the way.   We - resident, staff, donor, volunteer - experienced both, as did each of you, I imagine.

Many of our residents began their third and final year of study at Yerevan State Humanities College.  They have thrived in this setting and we look forward to their graduation day in 2012.  We continue to think of ways in which we can achieve movement toward further integration into the community after graduation - whether in work, service, art or play.  We look forward to how this will enrich and strengthen our residents’ lives. 

In winter enjoy

I spoke with our residents an hour ago. It is the eve of the Armenian New Year and they are staying up late, reveling in the celebration with its tasks and merriments, talking about their gifts, enjoying one another.  It bring me so much joy to hear their voices full of anticipation, full of hope. 

As Blake urges, winter is a time to enjoy the work of the year, the bounty of the harvest.  They are doing just that.  In this spirit, I want this report to do the same.  We have so much to be grateful for, in large part because of each of you.  So in these pages, I want to share with you our seeds, our harvest, and our winter that you might also learn, teach and enjoy.

Blessings to you and yours,

Natalie Bryant-Rizzieri

Dec 12, 2011

Winter Newsletter ~ Breaking New Ground

Dear friends,

I have attached the winter newsletter for your perusal and enjoyment.  In addition, I have included a portion of the text below. 

On behalf of the residents and staff, we would like to wish you all a blessed season.   Our residents look forward to celebrating - and thank you for your part in making that happen. 

Sincerely and with gratitude,
Natalie (for us all)

Ground is Broken

In September, we reported our newly-laid plans to build a garden house.  The garden house will be a small and simple building in our backyard (design pictured here).  In the beginning, it will provide a structure and a safe place to care for our residents with more intense needs.  Anna and Sassoon, two of our residents who have been in clinics, are the inspiration for this garden house.  Though there have been delays, construction is now underway and we hope to be ready to welcome Anna and Sassoon home in March of 2012.  Our vision is that the home be a transitional space for any residents with special needs whether that be Anna and Sassoon in their transition from the clinic, a resident who is looking to increase his or her independent living skills, or a volunteer who would benefit the residents by staying onsite.  We are so grateful for this opportunity and the possibilities it holds for our residents.  In the meantime, we are also finishing our basement and making it a therapeutic and welcoming place where any resident can take some time away from the larger group to rest, relax, or be calmed.  We are hopeful that these changes, along with behavior planning, and a new staffing structure will be the keys to a successful transition home for Anna and Sassoon.

Read the full newsletter by opening the attachment. 

Oct 4, 2011

Postcard from Friends of Warm Hearth

Roman's infectious smile

My name is Shahd AlShehail, and I'm a GlobalGiving field intern who visited all our partner projects in Armenia! .. I'm happy to update you about the project you donated to ...

While volunteering for the Peace Corps at an orphanage in Armenia, Natalie saw a need for a long-term care to mentally-disabled adults that have outgrown orphanages. She knew that in a culture that hides the mentally disabled and considers them shameful, their only other option would be old soviet psychiatric hospitals. This is where Friends of Warm Hearth comes in to provide a brighter future to Armenian adults with disabilities.

We walked into the house in the suburbs of Yerevan where 11 residents live, and were immediately greeted by three smiley faces, Gayane, Davit and Roman.

As we toured the house with Alya, the Country Director, and Brian, a Peace Corps volunteer we witnessed the unique aspects and techniques used in the group home. Residents attend University during the day to learn vocational skills such as carpet weaving and gardening. At home, they are able to immediately practice these skills in the crafts room, the garden, or the carpet weaving room. In the evening, they engage in different fun activities from singing to dancing to puzzle making (Roman’s favorite!). And two times a week, the residents have group therapy sessions with a professional psychologist, in which they openly talk about their thoughts, feelings, and issues surrounding their respective disabilities.

Alya spoke to us candidly about the struggles they’ve had raising awareness within the government about mental-disability. Under Armenian law, there is no distinction between physical disability and mental disability, and very little funding for either. As you can imagine they face the same struggles within the community. “We take our residents on trips around the country, they are fun and the residents really look forward to them! But they are also a great way to help promote the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in the community.”

The residents were really excited to share their photo albums with us and perform some traditional Armenian songs, which was quickly turned by Agape and Davit to a great dance party!

Friends of Warm Hearth is so much more than a group home. The resident receive specialized care, live in an inclusive nurturing environment, and learn important vocational skills. In the future, Alya hopes to expand “I dream of having a big home one day, with different groups of residents, living within similar levels of capabilities, and interacting with each other in a large communal place.”

We left the house with a sense of gratification, knowing that all your donations are going to a great project.

Continue your support to them here 

some of the crafts made by the resident
some of the crafts made by the resident
Gayane sharing a poem she learned at college
Gayane sharing a poem she learned at college
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