Group Homes for Armenian Orphans with Disabilities


November 13th, 2008

Dear friends and family,

We have five new residents at Warm Hearth. That makes thirteen. We have eleven people living full time in our home, and two in clinics whom we remain committed to through weekly visits. Our residents were thrilled to welcome these new people into their home and to share meals with them, bedrooms, and bathroom sinks. They already had them in their hearts, at least some of them. On the day that four of the new residents visited for the first time, Yulia gasped with joy. Alya said that she was "too-too happy" because she was reunited with a long lost friend, someone who had cared for her in another orphanage, a sister of her heart. They are together now, living again under the same roof, picking up, it seems, where they had left off. We never dreamed…

One of my favorite photographs from the first day that the new residents were with us was one of about four of them gathered in the bathroom, brushing their teeth at night (see the photo below). I thought of my siblings and those evening rituals and what it means to share life with a myriad of people both different and similar to you. There is something so organic and natural about sharing a bathroom sink with someone you live with and it made me happy to think that we were finding a way to sustain and nurture a home-like environment while adding to our numbers.

Within a little more than a week of coming to our home, Agapy (who is also Yulia's long lost friend) began to feel unwell. Our staff took her to the hospital to discover that she needed to have her appendix removed immediately. Thankfully the staff acted quickly and Agapy's healthy & life were saved. She will stay in the hospital for a week to recover and then come home. In the meantime, we are struggling to finagle with the hospital because she is without a birth certificate or papers of any kind. That is typical for an orphan, but my goodness!

It is hard for me to be so far from all of these quick strides of growth…but it is as it should be in the sense that Warm Hearth is well cared for by those who will be able to carry it on far far into the future, farther than I could (or should) ever carry it being non-Armenian. I am more than satisfied with how our staff envisions Warm Hearth and creates such a loving home. We who hold this end up, still have our part, and it is not small. Rather, it would be impossible without you…without generosity and prayer and everyday help. But it would also be impossible without our staff, our residents, our directors in Armenia who have made such beauty possible. Let us never forget to thank them as well, even if it is just in our hearts.

With love,


Dear friends & family,

It is with tremendous joy that I introduce a few of our new residents to you through this autumn newsletter. In addition, we've finished our renovations and are enjoying this season of fullness that mirrors the season of autumn. I am partial to the season of autumn, to the changing leaves, to the crisp air (which we have too little of in the Arizona desert). But even here in Arizona, we can feel the tilt of the earth, the coming of winter. And most definitely, the coming of winter is felt in Armenia! Thankfully, this year, we will have a full and warm house where our residents (new and old) can experience what it is to love and be loved.

Thank you for making so much beauty possible in this small corner of the world....

Enjoy the newsletter, and as always, feel free to write or call if you have thoughts or questions.

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

Tel. (480) 921-1181 Armenian Tel. (374) (10) 39-81-50 Address: P.O. Box 1037; Tempe, AZ 85280 <>

Providing Holistic Care for Orphans with Disabilities in Armenia


Compared to my heart's desire the sea is a drop.

-Adelia Prado


Dear friends,

Though time seems to pass too quickly, each day continues to contain the true and rooted things that make up a life. Our residents and I are waiting for the "new residents" to come to our home, which should happen in the next couple of weeks. "Home" is a true and rooted thing. Our staff and I wait for this tremendous joy of welcoming new residents. We also know the stress of opening our home and hearts up to still more people. It will be good when they are settled into their new beds and the first meal is over and the dishes are washed. It will be good when the first obstacle of this new chapter is overcome. We will all then sleep well & hard & long.

But for now (and again), we wait. And we wait with hope. In a sense, we are harvesting hope after a season of tilling and growth and putting down roots.

This month holds a third trip for me to San Francisco and for the first time, Los Angeles. I will be gathering together with those of you who have cared for Warm Hearth. And that is always a joy. I told a friend today that on these trips I feel like I give my heart away every time I speak about Warm Hearth. And that is true. And while tiring, that is also the beauty of it because it allows *this* home to belong to all of us. So, I wait also with hope that this coming time will be one of joy and honesty and coming together. I hope that the arms of Warm Hearth stay open and wide both here and abroad.

There is a woman whom we know little about who lives in one of the clinics currently. We only know enough about her to want to bring her to our home. She is unable to walk and appears to have downs syndrome. She has gentle eyes. The way that she has found her way into our minds is mysterious and the path weaves back and forth. Not knowing much about her story, we do not know yet if this will be possible. But what is amazing to me about this possibility is that it came about through the words of a friend and regular supporter of Warm Hearth. We had talked about this woman before - and when it came time to think about new residents, my friend suggested her. I spoke with our director in Armenia who is going to consider it carefully. I trust her to do so. And we will see how it unfolds.

In a world that is sometimes driven by numbers and figures and people in high-places, it is good to recall that it doesn't always have to be this way. There is beauty in the fact that the direction of Warm Hearth is defined by people - our residents, staff and supporters.

That is a sign of hope to me. And I hope to you.

Stay close by to us.

With Gratitude,

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

Dear friends,

The day is coming to a close, and I slowed to the thoughts below, and thought I might take the time to share them with you, you who have safeguarded & cared so deeply for Warm Hearth....

We prefer to endure any agony of isolation rather than to merge and extinguish our selves in an abstract "humanity" whose fate we should hold dearer than our own. (Annie Dillard, For the Time Being)

Warm Hearth renovations are almost complete – and they will allow for us to invite 8-10 people home. To invite people home, to have created a home for them, this is going to be such a great joy.

It also marks a new chapter for us. We have never "selected" residents for our home because of the grassroots nature of our beginning. We knew our first group of residents intimately – they were and are the reason we started Warm Hearth. So, as we think about beckoning new residents into our home, into our lives and hearts, we pause and realize the weightiness and joy of the decision.

When we think about accepting some residents, we also have to think about excluding others – and then the need for places like Warm Hearth becomes painfully evident. And it gives me a renewed vigor to keep moving forward, to keep taking steps toward sustainability and a societal movement away from unnecessary institutionalization.

Perhaps it is equally important for us to take a deep breath and realize that we are doing what we can. And change happens one step at a time.

Warm Hearth has always asked much of us – it has asked for courage. It has asked for hope. It has asked for us to slow down at times, and to speed up. It has asked us to try and try again. It has asked us to make decisions without knowing all that we might expect to know in the face of such a decision. It has asked us to love, to forgive, to be gracious. It is, after all, a very human place.

At this very moment, I think it is asking us to look with great tenderness at the vast need that we will soon face as we look for our new residents. It is asking that we see all of these individuals, who experience the poverty of being unloved, as perfectly human, as part of us.

And so, to deny one of them a home, which will be a necessity because we don't have the space, is to deny a part of ourselves a home.

May we see our connection to one another this clearly – though it is hard, for I am not sure there is another way to finding hope & healing – someday healing.


Natalie Bryant Rizzieri

Thank you to each of our donors for caring about our home & believing in our residents.

I wanted to share with each of you some of our summer news! Thanks to your generosity, we are expanding to include new residents.

Read about our summer days in the attached file.

Sincerely & With Gratitude, Natalie


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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