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...
Oct 4, 2011

Postcard from Friends of Warm Hearth

Roman
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
Sep 14, 2011

Finding Our Way

Dear friends,

I'm honored to keep you up-to-date on the happenings at Warm Hearth.  This quarter (and hence, the newsletter) has been chock-full of the good, even the glorious, and the ugly (or disappointing).  Please find (and read!) the attached newsletter. 

And while you're here, I wanted to share our residents' new handicrafts at http://smallcornerstore.blogspot.com/.  Each different craft is located on a separate page.  Just click on "older posts" at the bottom of each screen to view another craft.  They are beautiful, if I may say so myself.  The residents and their crafts. 

Thank you for caring about our home and our residents.  We are all most grateful. 

Blessings to you and yours,

--
Natalie Bryant-Rizzieri
Founder, Executive Director
Friends of Warm Hearth, Inc.  
www.friendsofwarmhearth.org

Providing Holistic Care for Orphans with Disabilities in Armenia 

****

Sometimes our life reminds me
of a forest in which there is a graceful clearing
and in that opening a house,
an orchard and garden,
comfortable shades, and flowers
red and yellow in the sun, a pattern
made in the light for the light to return to.
The forest is mostly dark, its way
to be made anew day after day, the dark
richer than the light and more blessed
provided we stay brave
enough to keep going in.



By Wendell Berry

Links:


Attachments:
Aug 26, 2011

New Hope for Anna & Sassoon ~ Warm Hearth

Dear friends,

As you know, many of you, our attempts to help Anna and Sassoon (two of our residents who have spent more times in clinics/institutions than in Warm Hearth Group Home) have been thwarted time and again. Many of you have given so much in an effort to bring them home.  What has looked like the answer in the past has disappointed.  We've tried to move forward, to bring them home, and time and again our footing has been precarious. And we have slipped and fallen. And they have suffered, still, in the institutions. 

As a last-ditch effort, Alya, our Armenian Director, came to the USA in July to see different group homes, in the hopes that we would learn some skills and be encouraged in regard to caring for residents like Anna and Sassoon with greater behavioral challenges.  The trip was full – and we did learn a lot — all of us.  But by the end, we were not sure if it would end up meaning a homecoming for Anna or Sassoon. 

It seemed like we were at a dead-end.  And I wasn't sure there was any way to even back out of that place and look for another road. 

I reckoned with what it means when there is nothing more to be done — nothing more one can even imagine to do that would relieve the suffering of one's beloveds.  What does grace even mean in those places?  These were the questions I asked.  I still ask them, because they are still unanswered for many people. 

But for Anna and Sassoon, there is more than a glimmer of hope. And it is not hard to see the grace in that.

A couple weeks ago now, I asked Alya to consider bringing Anna and Sassoon home one more time.  It was a question I had to ask -- but with open-hands -- because Warm Hearth has become more and more Armenia's.  And in response, Alya proposed building a garden house in our backyard for Anna and Sassoon, consisting of two bedrooms and a bath.  This garden house would be a place Anna and Sassoon could go when they were struggling to provide space and to protect them and our other residents. 

The board joyfully deliberated and has approved the decision to move forward.  We are in the process of getting zoning approval to build this garden house and we hope to start construction in October so as to be done before the heavy-handedness of Armenian winter.

I was (and still am) incredulous.  It's taken awhile to sink in, to recover from the beautiful shock of being handed hope again. 

All the answers are not in place, nor will they ever be.  We hope this works as a long-term solution for Anna and Sassoon.  We hope this with all our hearts as we (and especially Anna & Sassoon) are turned around from that dead-end place and looking down a new road. 

With gratitude,
Natalie (for us all)

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