Group Homes for Armenian Orphans with Disabilities

Feb 20, 2008

"I am not afraid..."

I have the honor of being asked, and quite often, “what can I do to help?” I meet people, day in and day out who want to contribute to our home, our residents’ lives, our efforts.

One of my favorite parts of this work is matching what people have to give with our needs. It is a great joy to be able to watch, and closely, how giving and receiving transform all of those involved.

Sometimes what we need is an empathetic ear. Sometimes we need an outside and professional opinion on a care plan for a resident or a reference for a neurologist for one of our residents. Sometimes our staff needs volunteers to visit and give them a reprieve in their day and work. Sometimes we need financial support or simply a few kind words.

Sometimes our residents need someone to pay special attention to their piece of art. Sometimes we need people to just acknowledge that we are tired, and offer to pick up the pieces, even just for a short time.

We need people. We need people who are willing to be present, “to touch those to whom [they] give.” (Mother Teresa) We need people to be gentle and fierce. We need people who will fight hard for the rights of our residents, for the provision of their needs. We need people to carry some of the suffering that our residents have carried for their whole lives.

It is hard to stare suffering in its face. And sometimes I feel compelled to protect our friends and supporters from the suffering that inevitably comes through and in this work. But then we are all more alone. And besides, if the suffering is not known, we will never find ways to overcome it, however slow it may be.

There is a quote by Euripides, the Ancient Greek playwright, which speaks to this willingness to be a part of life. Euripides says:

“You who sit there in utter misery, look up and show your friend your face. There is no darkness bears a cloak so black as could conceal your suffering. Why wave your hand to warn me of the taint of blood? For fear your words pollute me? I am not afraid to share your deep affliction with you…”

May we not be afraid. So much depends on this.

Dec 18, 2007

"to improve or save the world & to enjoy or savor the world"

“If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve or save the world and a desire to enjoy or savor the world. This makes it hard to plan a day.” (E. B. White)

Bridget Anderson, our Associate Director, recently moved to Nigeria & continues to be involved in Warm Hearth’s growth & sustenance. Today she sent me this quote by E.B. White. It speaks to the efforts, motivation and tension of Warm Hearth & of the wider world.

The tension is felt in our home in Armenia as the New Year approaches. New Year is a significant and special holiday in Armenia and is celebrated for an entire week, beginning with the old date for New Year (January 6th). We want our residents to savor this celebration and have done what we can to make sure this will happen!

But at the same time, some of our efforts must continue to extend to three of our residents who have been in and out of the hospital this year…two of whom will remain hospitalized during the New Year. We cannot abandon either effort. But it is hard to hold them both: to “savor and improve.” To “enjoy and save.”

We care that Warm Hearth be a true and revolutionary way of life for our residents. We also care that Warm Hearth be a place that creates a space where the world can be enjoyed and savored by our residents, of course, but also by the extended family of Warm Hearth.

I hope that being a part of Warm Hearth, in whatever capacity you are, provides a balance of improving the world and drinking deeply of the beauty that has been created. I hope it means this for our residents and staff as well.

May this effort, upheld by many of you, be an ever so slight moment of harmony where these two ways of abiding in the world can be joined together.

That is my hope for each of you today as we enter the holiday & Christmas season.

With Gratitude, Natalie Bryant Rizzieri

Nov 19, 2007

Warmth & Rilke -- part 2

Dear friends,

This morning when I opened my in-box there was evidence of care and concern from so many of you. I am astonished, once again, at your kindness.

And I wanted to share the good news.

Not only had we received $6,600 over the weekend for the central heating system in Warm Hearth (the total cost is a little over $8,000), but I had answers to my final questions about the estimates/company that has been designated to do this work along with a final figure.

Thus, I was able to send the wire transfer of funds today with a sigh of relief and confidence that a quality system will be installed for a fair price. Our residents will soon be warm, through and through.

Thank you. I don't know of any other group of people so responsive and genuine. Thank you for being a part. Yes, thank you. What more is there to say.

With Gratitude, Natalie (for us all)

Nov 18, 2007

Heat at Warm Hearth

Dear friends,

I realized recently that I begin most reflections on Warm Hearth by orienting myself with the season. There is a rhythm to the year that must bring some solace, to which I almost *must* connect myself before writing about our group home. And today as I began my work, I did the same thing. I looked at the weather in Yerevan, Armenia and it is 37 degrees Fahrenheit. It is getting cold during the night...and I am worried because we do not have heat in our house right now.

When we opened the home, Bridget and I bought two large gas furnaces from Iran. They heat the home well and it is quite comfortable even in the throes of winter. But due to a new law, we are not allowed to use those heaters any longer & must install central heat. We are on our way to making this happen & have been shuffling through the laws, boiler estimates, gas valves & switches and exchange rates. Many of you have helped with this, have offered expertise & insight, for which I am grateful. And like I said, we are moving as quickly as possible and will hopefully begin installation next week.

But in the mean time, our residents are still cold. And when I pull the blanket over me at night I think about them, and how many blankets they probably have atop their bodies...and how it probably still is cold.

And from there I think of how, no matter how much you love someone you cannot always protect them as you would want to. But we keep trying -- and that is all we can do. I cannot say how many times I have come to this in the "life" of Warm Hearth...but it seems a rock-bottom truth. I keep arriving here, in roundabout ways. And it makes me think of Rilke's words from "The Visionary," a few of which I will share....

How little are the things with which we wrestle. What with us wrestles, how much greater is!

If only we would let ourselves be conquered as things are overcome by a great storm, we would expand in space and need no names.

When we victorious are, it is over the small things, and though we won, it leaves us feeling small.


The secret of his growing lies in this: by being totally defeated and disarmed by even greater forces and their cause.

I hope that we keep growing -- even if it means these moments of what feels like defeat. That is what I hope. And that each of you is well. And warm.

With Gratitude,

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

Oct 23, 2007

Gratitude & Growth

Thank you to all of you who have given to our home.

Thank you for your kindness towards Warm Hearth's residents.

Your donation makes it possible to provide a life for our residents outside the psychiatric institutions in Armenia.

Your support is a vital part of our operation and is also sustenance to our hearts, as we know, through your gift, that we are not alone in this endeavor.

If you are interested, our Annual Report is attached. This chronicles our growth, the healing of our residents and our story from beginning to present day.

Thank you again for your support.


Natalie Bryant Rizzieri Executive Director & Founder


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Project Leader

Warm Hearth Co-Director

Founder/Executive Director
Flagstaff, AZ United States

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Map of Group Homes for Armenian Orphans with Disabilities