Dec 9, 2015

The Work of Reflection

Sound Therapy with Visiting Volunteer
Sound Therapy with Visiting Volunteer

Dear friends - 

In addition to doing cutting-edge “sound therapy” for our residents (see attached photo), the work of this year has been to reflect, to look long and hard at our structure and organization.  We have looked at our strengths and weaknesses, letting those speak to us and guide us forward.  As usually happens when you look, we have seen areas that need to change, and together, we have begun the work of bringing those changes into the world. 

Change does not come easily for me but I have been blessed by the openness of the staff and board.  We have been guided and held by the strong hands and heart of Anahit Mkhoyan, a board member in Armenia, who stepped forward and said, “I want to help.  How can we make things better?”  It is so simple, really, when it comes right down to it.  It is the willingness to begin that is hard to come by. 

The changes I speak of are around staffing responsibilities.  Without boring you with details, we want all of those who work on behalf of Warm Hearth to sharpen their focus so that our work can be done with full and undivided hearts.  We want to hire a few more people and shift some responsibilities around.  We want to bless our staff and our management with enough time to accomplish their tasks and with remuneration that reflects the value of their tasks.  We believe this will also bless our residents. 

So, we close this year with hearts that are a bit nervous for all the changes that will soon come to pass.  We close this year with hope that these changes will be life-giving for all of us and will usher us into a new season, stronger and able to continue on. 

May we all have the courage to reflect, to look, and to change.  May we all have the courage and confidence to step forward and say, “I want to help.  How can I make things better” in our homes, neighborhoods, hearts, and world.

(If you are interested in reading our complete newsletter, see the attachment.)   

Sincerely Yours,

Armine (resident) with Bridget (board member)
Armine (resident) with Bridget (board member)


Oct 6, 2015

Seeds of Change

Dear friends,

So many of you have reached out to us with concern for the ways that the residents have been treated by the neighbors.  Beginning in May, our staff members and residents began to reach out to the neighbors, extending kindness and offering their open hearts. And as often happens when we are vulnerable in this way, some of the neighbors have responded with love and kindness in return.  

After some initial efforts made on our side, a group of neighborhood children brought over a poster decorated for the residents.  This group of children are coming over to play with the residents now.  A few neighbors have even invited some residents to dinner in their homes.  After the isolation of the past few years, this is transformative. 

It does not escape me that these changes required openness on our part.  They required the initiative and courage of our staff and residents.  Even though our residents and staff were innocent, a change in them was also necessary. It can be tempting to wait for changes to come, when what is actually required is a willingness to try again, a willingness to be kind despite someone else’s unkindness, and a willingness to believe the best of people. 

The work of Warm Hearth is definitely to care for people with disabilities but it is also to transform the community around us (both in Armenia and in other countries) beginning with ourselves.  I recently sat around Janet and Araik Garibyan’s table with a group of shining people from Los Angeles who care for and support our work with abandon and passion.  And I was reminded that this work also transforms communities a great distance from Armenia. 

The work of Warm Hearth is one that asks us to be vulnerable, to reach out again and again, to find the common ground between ourselves and the residents and the neighbors who shunned them for a time.  It asks us to believe that small (and sometimes large) changes can come about, but that these changes begin in ourselves. 

To read the rest of our newsletter, see the downloadable attachment!  

Sincerely Yours,

Natalie Bryant-Rizzieri

Sep 1, 2015

Slowly but Surely

Poster from neighborhood children
Poster from neighborhood children

Dear friends, 

So many of you offer support to our residents and our home over the long haul.  And slowly but surely we make a difference in our residents' lives and days.  It is a joy to do this work together.  And we do not take your presence and generosity for granted.  

As you will recall, a couple of months ago I wrote about the struggles with the neighbors accepting our home.  Many of you reached out to us to impart courage and strength.  Our staff members have been leading the residents in making efforts to reach out to the neighbors as well.  And some of them have responded positively.  

Children seem to be the easiest to reach, across the board, and this has proven true in our case as well.  When we have shown kindness to the children of the neighborhood, they have responded in turn.  One day they even brought over a huge poster with notes of love and affection on it (see attached photo).  Our residents were overjoyed at this gesture of acceptance and kindness.  

A few of the adults have responded as well.  And we are grateful for these signs of hope on our street.  Slowly but surely we are already seeing change.  And as you know, change can be hard to come by, so we are grateful for it when it is before our eyes.  

Thank you for believing in our work, for welcoming our residents into your hearts.  I have taken solace (and I believe that they have to) that even while there is hostility closeby, there has been commitment and acceptance from afar.  That is no small thing.  

Blessings to each of you,


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