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...
Apr 6, 2011

A Mountain is Moved

Dear friends -

It is with an incredulous heart that I write to you. 

Our little group home in Armenia, that serves residents who are beloved to us, has received Armenian government funding beginning in 2012.  We…have...received…government…funding…for…our…residents… 

The government commitment to our home is to provide between 52 and 60% of our current operating budget (excluding state-side expenses). 

This is a small miracle. 

And it means so many things. It means that your gifts and work and passion have taken root in a way we dared to hope they would in the mental health system of Armenia.  It means a great leap toward sustainability.  It means a great advance in human rights in Armenia.  It means that some measure of justice has taken root in Armenian society on behalf of people with disabilities.  It means that the government values individuals with disabilities and believes, along with us, that a better life is possible for people with disabilities.  And that they are willing to fight for this, too. 

It means a letting go.  It means a chapter closes and another one opens. 

It means, we hope, some greater possibilities for Anna and Sassoon. 

It means rejoicing.  It means we continue on. 

A few hours after receiving this news, I opened a card from Susan Barnes, someone who loves our residents.  The front of the card says: A mountain is moved by carrying away small stones.  (Chinese Proverb) 

Susan then wrote:

I think…this larger system of injustice in Armenia that has years of history at its root is a giant mountain.  But, my hope and prayer is that each one of us -- who take the residents on trips, who donate money to the home, who sit on the Board, who sell their art, who buy their art, who research the laws, who translate the documents, who provide training, who provide structure and kindness in the home, who do so many little things -- is removing a stone.  We are each removing a stone.  It is good, significant work.  Even if the mountain in front of us is big. 

I don't understand why Anna and Sassoon are still in the clinic, despite all your efforts and the efforts of many.  It is not just.  And there are no easy answers.  But, I do believe that our work is to continue to carry away the stones we can today. 

One day, I don't know when, the mountain will be moved.  In the meantime, I hurt with you, with them, as I can from so far away. 

And I will do what I can to move stones with you and with the international family of stone carriers you've assembled. 

This acquisition of government funding is one great large stone that has been moved – and by the hands of many of you – our family of stone carriers. 

I am grateful for you.  Let's rejoice together, spread out around the world, as we are. 

With honor and joy,


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

Tel. (480) 921-1181
Armenian Tel. (374) (10) 39-81-50

Address: PO Box 4784; Sunnyside NY 11104

Providing a Group Home for Orphans with Disabilities in Armenia

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Every action begins with strengthening the spirit. 

- C. P. Estes

Mar 9, 2011

By the Hands of Many

Dear friends,

Our spring newsletter is attached and vailable for your perusal.  We hope you enjoy the news about our residents and the people all over the world who uphold them.  Thank you for being a part of the circle that surrounds them.  By the hands of many, a few are upheld.  We are honored and grateful to work with each of you. 

The following is an excerpt from the newsletter:

On the Darkest Nights: The Ways We Celebrate

Armenians know how to celebrate and our residents are no exception.  On some of the darkest nights of the year, they come together, prepare a feast and open their home to friends.  They make special cakes and fruit platters.  They decorate the home and light up their corner of 3rd Village.    Christmas is celebrated from December 24th through January 6th.  By the end of such lengthy festivities, our residents and staff have the satisfying fatigue of being full-hearted.  We hope that you were just as blessed this past winter.  As if life wasn’t full enough already, our residents also took their handicrafts (many of which were Christmas decorations) to local exhibits (see photo). There they were able to show the community the beauty that is theirs, and the beauty that they have learned to make.  They also celebrated with a few trips into the city!  It is a gift to be able to create light in the midst of dark seasons. Our staff and residents do this well. They are committed to the practice and each year our traditions grow and develop as a true family’s.  As spring is rounding the corner and daylight extends with every passing day, we move toward the outside world and harbor the joys that were cultivated through the winter.  Thank you for your gifts and donations which make such joy possible.

Sincerely Yours,

Natalie (for us all)


Feb 10, 2011

Annual Report 2010

Dear friends and supporters -

Here is an excerpt from our 2010 Annual Report.  To read more and to see the full report, please open the attachment.

A letter from the founder

This year I was present for both Anahit’s and Davit’s birthday celebrations.  Anahit and Davit received gifts  from the staff.  For both occasions, there was a beautiful layered, homemade cake on the table.  And instead of a candle, we had sparklers!

It is a tradition at Warm Hearth that everyone present speaks their wishes for whomever we are celebrating.  I heard both whispers and confident toasts as Anahit and Davit were wished long lives, much love, and for their respective dreams to come true. 

Almost always, the one who is celebrated sheds a few tears.  They are tears of joy, for the most part.  But, does not every joy carry with it a bit of longing that almost feels like sadness?  I wonder if they long for the love of their families so acutely in those moments. 

Do they think of the loneliness they have carried with them most of their lives?  Or, do they think of the friendship that now belongs to them?

At the first birthday celebration after Warm Hearth opened, I remember wondering if that resident might break open from so much joy, from so much wonder.  I wondered: should we not celebrate so vibrantly?  Should we tame the celebrations for their sake?

I do not think a person can be given too much love.  So, I believe the answer is no.  Celebrate vibrantly!  Shower them with blessing.  And one day, they might realize how worthy of celebration they really are.  One day - when their celebrations at Warm Hearth outnumber the previous ones and their stories are re-read to include lifelong love.

    Sincerely Yours,

        Natalie Bryant-Rizzieri

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