Jun 7, 2019

Widening our Circle

Dear friends and donors,

Some of you have been giving regularly to our work and our home for many years now.  You have weathered the seasons of change with us.  You have seen us fall down and get back up again.  You have seen us welcome new residents into our homes and change based on who they are and what they need. 

And some of you give occasionally, when you can, when our residents come to mind and when our work takes a leap forward and you want to help support our new efforts.  What a gift each of you is and continues to be to our homes and our residents.  

We have an exciting summer ahead of us.  A group of professionals from the USA through an organization called "Inclusion Collective" is coming to work at our group homes this summer.  They are bringing a speech pathologist, a movement specialist, a trauma therapist, self-advocate specialists, and people who have worked in group home environs for many years.  

While they are in Armenia, we will host a disability rights and advocacy event in the city of Yerevan.  Our residents will attend and so will organizations from all over the nation of Armenia that work in this sphere.  We are hopeful that this opportunity to widen our circle not just with individual residents but with organizations doing important work in Armenia will be a significant shift for our organization. 

The spirit of collaboration is, in many ways, affected by the culture wherever we work.  And in any country or in any cultural group, there are different barriers to collaboration.  But we hope to address our barriers both gently and boldy.  We hope to bring people together to work towards a common goal.  Things are changing quickly in Armenia right now, due to the shift in political party last May.  We want to ride these waves of change and push for greater inclusion, collaboration and protection for people with disabilities and mental illnesses. 

Thank you for walking with us in this effort and for being a part of our circle.  We could not do this without you.  


Natalie Bryant-Rizzieri 


Mar 12, 2019

Reflecting on 2018 and our New Home

Dear friends,

I would say that in this work, we usually move steadily, growing and changing in a tempered manner. Our steps are purposeful and deliberate. And while sometimes we step on a boulder that tips under our weight and we have to take a quick hop back, for the most part, we have found a sturdy path over the waters that have rushed underneath and have made our way into a now-maturing forest. We have moved slowly on purpose--because we see so much value in making something as beautiful as possible rather than making as many of something as possible. We have done this because the work has been hard and trying at times. And we have done this because it has seemed the most humane way forward for our residents and staff. We wanted to learn from our mistakes as I believe we have, and make something better in their wake.

THE TREES THAT ARE SLOW TO GROW BEAR THE BEST FRUIT. We believe, along with Moliere, that the trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit. But this year, it was like all those steady steps took us through that young but maturing forest to the top of a hill. We could look out and behold all the goodness that has come to pass. We had the lay of the land. We could see you--the large circle of family and friends who make this work possible. We could see the smaller circle of residents and how their hands were open, ready to widen. And we were ready (were we ever!) to run down the other side. We ran hard and fast and joyfully in a valley where there is now a second home filled with new residents. (Pardon my metaphor, for the truth is that the home is nestled on a small hill-side in the village of Arinj with an underground temple nearby to boot! You will have to come visit.)

But if you look hard enough into that metaphorical valley we ran down into, you can see our leadership (both in the USA and in Armenia) bent over, tilling the soil with love and attention. This was a year of widening the parameters of our leadership to fit a new home. We worked hard this year, not only to make a new home, but to make our US-based board more sustainable for the long haul and are working to expand our members in 2019. If you look into that valley, perhaps you can see our new residents sowing seeds of healing that we hope will grow into new life and nourishment. And you can see the garden of our original home in 3rd Village--vibrant and full of fruit--and the residents who inspired us to take this running leap.

But if I may, I would like to take you back to that moment on the top of the proverbial hill. It was back in May. And Spring was full-hearted. We were all gathered in the brilliant green garden area of our new group home in Arinj Staff members, who had just finished their initial training, were busy making sure the new residents were comfortable. There were ministry officials and representatives from non-profit organizations. There were donors from the USA who stood with us as we cut the ribbon across the door of the new home. There were friends. There were trees, wearing their new leaves and there were our new residents, donning their new clothes. Their faces were freshly washed and their hair had just been combed. So many people gathered that day from near and far, to celebrate and to welcome the new residents home, forever. And it was a beautiful sight. But the new residents--they were the crown on top of our opening day. Or maybe, they were the jewels. Some of them were smiling. And some of them were tentative. Some of them were tearful and some of them were laughing. But, they were all home. And home is a place where all these things are welcome--where we all can hopefully find a resting place after a long journey.

May it be so for you and for all of us at Warm Hearth, for whom you help to make such lasting peace possible.

You will find our full 2018 Annual Report attached. 

Ever Yours,

Natalie Bryant-Rizzieri 


Dec 5, 2018

Song Scraps

Dear friends,

This is a special time of year when the snow and cold has quieted the world and collectively, we are moved by necessity toward interiority, to gathering around a fire and propping up our feet.

In that stillness, I imagine our group homes as two fires that are burning brightly and warming a small gathering of people in snowy and inclement weather.   Our residents and staff members are gathered around the fires.  Their hands tend and stoke the fire with care, beauty and proficiency.   One resident walks off in search of more wood.  Friends and neighbors and you are huddled close to the fire—absorbing warmth, light, the dance of flames.  There are some people in the distance who notice the fires from afar.  They are curious and come closer.  But finally, they are finally drawn into the fire circle by the beauty of the songs.  

Our residents sing often—for one another, for visitors and for friends.  They sing to celebrate and they sing as a balm when their hearts are hurting.  They sing without heed to the quality of their voice.  They sing with vigor, abandon and vibrato.  One day, I arrived at one of our group homes and was still outside, paying a taxi driver.  Something beautiful caught my attention but I could not yet place it.  It took a few moments to realize that the residents were singing and a scrap or two of melody was floating out into the street as a greeting, as a benediction.  May you hear their voices today, however faint. 

And may you receive scraps of songs wherever you are, as a benediction for this holiday and Christmas season.    

Sincerely Yours,
Natalie Bryant-Rizzieri
Founder & Executive Director

Our full winter newsletter is attached!  


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