Group Homes for Armenian Orphans with Disabilities

 
$41,645
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Mar 24, 2014

Annual Report for 2013

Dear friends & supporters - 

Springtime is finally here and with it comes the life-giving news of the last year at Warm Hearth.  
I just returned from Armenia, from our home full of the reassuring comforts of daily routines, full of clay and paints, laughter and tears, feasts and carpet looms and stuffed animals, care-taking and cleaning, meals and stacks of dishes, birthday celebrations and trips to the market and museum, comforting and arguing, singing and giving, learning and toasting and reciting poems, falling and dancing, holding and forgiving. 

It was more beauty than a person can almost bear to sit around the feast table and listen to the residents—all of them—sing carol after carol. Most of you know how much we have endured and how long we have persevered to get two of our residents, Anna and Sassoon, home from institutions. And there they were, seated with the others, toasting to the New Year. 

Some of us—residents, staff and visitors alike—were so moved that our faces were streaked with tears. I wondered if for the residents they were tears of joy or if so much goodness brought into starker relief some of the heartaches of the past. I will probably never know. 

For my own part, I was reminded of the simple fact that this is why we do what we do: so that these dear people can gather around a table and break bread daily and have someone to console them when they are in need. Thank you for protecting them, for believing that peace should also be theirs. 

---

Enjoy more tidbits about our community: residents, volunteers, supporters, professionals and staff.  Our Annual Report is available for download at: 
Also, if you are on facebook, stay updated on our day-to-days and like us at: www.facebook.com/friendsofwarmhearth.

Thank you for taking part in our work.  Thank you for believing in our residents. 

Sincerely yours,
Natalie Bryant-Rizzieri
Jan 22, 2014

Gathering Around a Table

Dear friends, 

I have been in Armenia since Monday, and have spent such precious days with our residents.  Today we celebrated Nor Dari (New Year) a little late together.  We had a table full of festive food and the residents sang carol after carol.  I think they literally sang to their heart's content, and to mine.  They recited poems, expressed wishes for the coming year, and we spoke of treasured memories from last year.  It was a sweet time. 

Perhaps the sweetest part was that we were *all* gathered.  Not one of the residents was missing.  Anna and Sassoon have been home for almost two years now and the life has come back to them.  It has filled them up again.  Their eyes dance when they smile.  They smile.  And they have found a way, through practice and careful guidance from our amazing staff, to live peaceably with the other residents.  

As I watched them sing and clap and eat, I was reminded of the simple fact that this is why we do what we do.  So that these dear people can gather around a table and break bread and toast to another year and know a little bit of love in their lives.  

On this trip I have also been able to meet our newest resident, Arsen.  He is a gentle soul, quiet and reserved, for the most part.  Arsen is more recently orphaned, so experienced a lifetime of love from his mother and father.  This is evident when you meet him -- and I see anew the beautiful gift that it is to be loved, and the poverty for our other residents to not have experienced such love as children.  Arsen told me the first day that he is only staying at Warm Hearth temporarily.  I imagine that it is very hard to accept, after a lifetime of familial love, that one has to begin again.  There is love at Warm Hearth, and for him, but I recognize that it isn't the same as the love of a family.  

Even so, we continue to do our best to be a family to our residents.  My sister, who is here with me (as is my father), noticed a family tree in the hallway of our home that has each of our residents' photos along with the year they were born.  What a precious testament to what we are trying to do.  I am grateful for the staff member who has so has internalized the spirit of our work that she thought to do this for our residents.  

Thank you for your part in our efforts.  Thank you for your commitment.  It has made all the difference to these fourteen people who call Warm Hearth home.  

Sincerely,
Natalie (for us all)  
Dec 10, 2013

Winter at Warm Hearth

Dear friends, 

Thank you for your concern and heart for our residents.  We appreciate the ways that many of you have reached out to us and supported our residents in the last few months.  

We've attached our most recent newsletter.  And the following is an excerpt from the newsletter: 

Sassoon came back home in April 2012 after a difcult institutional stay. He is a very calm and kind person. He enjoys spending time with the residents but also needs his alone time; the Garden House is perfectly suited for his needs. He loves to sing, especially “Yes kez shat shat sirum em...” He likes to keep things clean and gathers messes immediately. He talks a lot about his memories of his mother and grandmother and remembers their 
grape vines. He likes to gather newspapers and show them to others. He loves new clothes and puts them
on at once to show everyone. He has come back to life since being home.

Please contact us if you have any questions.  And thank you again.  

Sincerely,

 

Natalie (for us all)

Links:


Attachments:
Sep 11, 2013

A New Resident

Dear friends,

Thank you for your loyal support of our residents.  We have an autumn newsletter with news of our summer, the story of our new resident, and invitations to a few events.  Please find the newsletter attached and enjoy an excerpt here: 

In July of 2013, Arsen was welcomed into our home after the death of both parents.      

A Place to Heal, Live, Love

Arsen is our most recent resident;  his story is different than most of our residents. After hearing about him and spending time with him, we quickly realized that he belongs with Warm Hearth.  Arsen is in his 30s and lived with his parents most of his life.  He was well-cared for. When they died, he lived alone for a time.  There was no one who could care for him.  He was not able to thrive on his own due to a pervasive developmental disability. 

Arsen’s cousin from Moscow found Warm Hearth and approached us about providing a home for him.  He has been living with us since July and while we have a lot to offer him, it is still not the same as a parent’s love.  We hope to give him a safe place to heal and a lifetime home. 

Our desire is that he soon find companionship  with our residents and staff and grow in new ways through our life skills and vocational programs, therapy sessions and gentle way of life.  At the same time, we look forward to what he has to teach us and give us, knowing he will become a part of us, changing us as well.

Sincerely,

Natalie (for us all) 


Attachments:
Aug 22, 2013

They Shine: A Visit to Warm Hearth

Heather with Susanna (Warm Hearth resident)
Heather with Susanna (Warm Hearth resident)

A woman, Heather, who has known some of our residents for over ten years (before there even was a Warm Hearth), visited again this summer.  


Here are her thoughts on our home:  

I’ve been back to visit Armenia twice since I lived there from 2001-2003, when I fell in love with the country and the people. On those return visits, it’s been so good to reconnect, to savor the fresh, flavorful food, and to soak up the natural beauty of the country. At the same time, it’s disheartening to see that poverty persists, that roads remain potholed, and that many people remain desperate to leave and find a better life.

My visits to Warm Hearth have been bright spots in the midst of those harsh realities. The staff and the residents face real challenges, to be sure: neighbors remain largely unreceptive, space and funds are limited, a resident wonders why her mother and her sister no longer come to visit.  But despite those challenges, they shine.

When I visited this summer, I was struck again by Alya’s firm commitment to the difficult work that’s done at Warm Hearth and the hope she has for growing acceptance of people with disabilities in Armenia. Davit and Gayane proudly displayed their work on the loom, Roman smiled broadly as he showed off the puzzle he was putting together, and Suzanna lit up when I admired the careful stitches she’d done on a tablecloth. The residents proudly gave my cousin and me a tour of the house and the well-tended plants in the yard, and they cheered each other on in a rousing back-porch bowling game with plastic pins and balls.

Armenia is a beautiful place. It’s far from perfect, and many Armenians would gladly leave if they could. At the same time, however, many of the nation’s generous, hospitable people face their challenges with beauty, grace, and strength – just as the staff and the residents of Warm Hearth continue to do. 


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Project Leader

Warm Hearth Co-Director

Founder/Executive Director
Flagstaff, AZ United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Group Homes for Armenian Orphans with Disabilities