Jul 18, 2017

Ah love, let us be true - Summer 2017

Dear donors and friends,

Ah, love, let us be true to one another! (M. Arnold)

I just returned from Warm Hearth—from long dusty walks along alleyways with the residents as we traipsed to roadside restaurants. We were on a four-day trip to Syunik Marz, the southernmost region. There we conducted a belated celebration of Warm Hearth’s anniversary, remembering where and how the seeds of Warm Hearth were first planted. It was glorious to just be together — to travel, to rest, to eat, to wander. I think it served to remind all of us — staff and resident alike — that first and foremost we are people living life together, trying to love one another well. And in that, it was like a cold drink of water, nourishing and cooling the places inside of us that had grown parched.

On our journey, we also visited old haunts where memories surfaced, both painful and cleansing. We played and sang and laughed with a group of 19 individuals from one of the orphanages where some of our residents once lived, who like our residents have outgrown the orphanage and are waiting for a transfer to a psychiatric institutions or for a home like Warm Hearth. It is heartbreaking to stare into the face of such need and then turn and drive away. We are still trembling.

So we are looking for a way forward, for a way to open. After an unsuccessful year of trying and trying again to hire a new Development & Advocacy Officer, we need to recalibrate and determine how we will walk forward to respond to all that we witness. This is the work of the world—not just ours, not just yours. But let us do it together.

If you would like to read our full newsletter, please see the attachment.  

Sincerely Yours,


Jun 27, 2017

Magic in Each Brick

Dear friends of Warm Hearth,
After being re-routed through Moscow due to Qatar's diplomatic struggle, we made it to Armenia in one ragged piece. This time I was actually able to come with my entire family -- for the first time in 7 years.   We all went to Warm Hearth together and it is hard to express how full it made my heart to see all the people I love so much holding one another, hugging one another, gifting one another, welcoming one another.  

There is something so pure and piercing in the love of these residents.  How do they know how to love so well and so profoundly?  The language barrier was not inhibitive to their expressions of love on both sides.  So much can be said in a smile, in a gesture, in loving attention.  

And...they are happy.  The residents. Of course, it is not that simple.  They are sad, too, sometimes, but they are also happy.  They have such a lively creativity and so many ways to explore it.  They are loved and they have so much love to give.  They told me of trips to a local orphanage where they lead the children in special activities.  I saw little clay houses that some of them made to illustrate Warm Hearth.  They remind me of fairy or hobbit houses with bright colors and flowers and joy and magic in each brick.  

Within an hour of arriving, they made sure that we were going to have one-on-one meetings together, where they can share their joys and heartaches and struggles and concerns.  We all look forward to those meetings so much and I will cherish the insights into their days -- the shadows and the light.  

We are all leaving for Kapan in a few days.  Kapan, the town where the first group of residents and I met.  Kapan, where many of them were raised.  We will go to celebrate, to remember where we came from, to enjoy being out of the city.  We will go to rest and relax together -- staff and resident, visitors and children.  I look forward to four days of being together without work to do or meetings to be had.  In all the years since Warm Hearth started, we have never had this sort of time together.  
So many of you, who have met the residents, have already been mentioned by name.  How's Sarah?  How's Bridget?  What is Shauna doing?  When will Juliet come again?  The list goes on.  You are here with us in spirit and we will hold you close in the days to come -- as we remember and bless what has come before and what will come to be.  

Thank you for helping us build a home with magic in each brick.  

With gratitude,


Mar 31, 2017

Such Singing in the Wild Branches

Dear friends and donors,

The music of Spring is in the air.  The tips of the tree branches in our residents’ garden are swollen and ready to break into blossom.  I think of Mary Oliver’s words:

Such soft and solemn and perfect music doesn’t last  

For more than a few moments. It’s one of those
magical places wise people  
like to talk about.
One of the things they say about it, that is true,
is that, once you’ve been there,  you’re there forever.

Listen, everyone has a chance.
Is it spring, is it morning?  

Are there trees near you,
and does your own soul need comforting?
Quick, then — open the door and fly on your heavy feet; the song  
may already be drifting away.

The residents are running on their heavy feet today in Mughni, outside of Yerevan (pictured here). The ancient St. Gevorg’s monastery is there, which I visited many years ago just as Spring was having her way.  And it is a joy to imagine the residents there, with new sun on their pale wintered faces, in this season of Lent, which is sacred to many Armenians. I hope they go barefoot today. I hope they hear the solemn and perfect music for a few moments and that they know that they too have another chance, yet again.

They have been home for over a decade now, many of them, but I imagine just as our hearts and souls still need healing and transformation and comforting, so too do theirs. May we at Warm Hearth look at the world differently this Spring and see the opportunities in our group home for beginning again, for deep full-hearted joy. May it be so for our dear residents. And may it be so for you, both in your own private journeys and in your journey of loving our residents and circling around them.

If you would like to read our resident profile and about the Armenia Mindfulness Project, please view our quarterly newsletter (attached).  

Sincerely Yours,

Natalie Bryant-Rizzieri
Founder & Executive Director

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