Group Homes for Armenian Orphans with Disabilities


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


Dearest friends & supporters -

As I alluded to in my last letter, we at Warm Hearth are stretching our limbs, trying to reach further and higher and wider to include more residents and to offer always better care to those we already have in our home and in our care. As of three days ago, July 1, this means that we began operating under our new foundation "Jermik Ankyun (Warm Hearth) Foundation" in the Republic of Armenia as opposed to under the umbrella of another nonprofit, Mission Armenia. Mission Armenia has been vital to our beginning and we are quick to say that we would not have been able to do this without them. But there comes a time, and the time has come, to step out on our own...recognize what makes us unique and go confidently in that direction. That is what I hope and believe that this transition means for us. Please keep our directors there in your hearts, prayers and thoughts as they take risks - both personal and organizational - on behalf of those whom we all hold dear.

In the midst of this and as a result of my recent trip with Bridget over the seas and back in Armenia, we are also renovating/finishing our third floor. We plan to new residents, each of whom either is already living in the psychiatric institutions or is destined for them. We hope to welcome them by the autumn. After 2 1/2 years of being open, we feel like we are at a place where we can welcome new residents into our home.... The ground is sure enough beneath our feet. Thank you for being patient with us, and for trusting our timing. Because some of you have asked, the initial renovation project (which doesn't include heating and plumbing) is currently estimated to cost $29,600. We have already raised $25,000 of that amount and are hoping to send the rest soon so that we can get the roof raised, as they say, before winter sets in.

We have enjoyed the summer influx of visitors and volunteers as well. Our residents and staff have been able to participate in activities and trainings. People have come and visited from far and wide. And as you know from walking with us for the last 2 1/2 years, this always is a gift to us. Know that you also are always welcome to come, to stay awhile in our home, to give what you have to give - whatever that might be, and to receive and appreciate all that Warm Hearth offers, in all its humanness, commonness, and dailyness. But this is where beauty and mercy are most often found.

May you know and find that same mercy this day, wherever you are.

With much gratitude and love, Natalie


**In order to raise money for our renovation project, we are selling packets of greeting cards with paintings by our residents. They are $15 each and if you are interested, please let me know by phone or email. (My phone number is listed below.)

**A desktop computer and monitor for our new foundation (no more than 3 years old and in working condition).

** Used/old cell phones which can be mailed to the post office box below (Warm Hearth receives monetary compensation for these).

-- 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

Here are some recent photos from the trip to Warm Hearth.

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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