Group Homes for Armenian Orphans with Disabilities

by Friends of Warm Hearth, Inc.

The work of mending in this world never ends.  Paradise lies scattered, this I know, it is our earthly task to recognize its flowers that are strewn in the humble grass.
-Yves Bonnefoy

 Our  work of mending carries on, and carries us, maybe especially in the midst of struggle. We have found paradise scattered in and throughout our daily lives, in ordinary and humble moments of weaving carpets, making meals, writing “thank you’s,” updating files, tending to the house, bathing bodies, planting seeds.  

We have also recognized flowers of paradise in extraordinary moments.  Many of our residents graduated from a three-year university program in June.  In April, a group of five travelled to Armenia to support the staff in the homecoming of Anna and Sassoon.  

Our staff in Armenia guide our residents with love, and ever-deeper understanding.  They also have made tremendous strides this year in garnering support from local individuals and organizations.  Their reaching out on behalf of our residents is a testament of their love and commitment to our residents and home.   

It has been a year of rejoicing.  So much that we have long strived for has come to fruition.  Our home life has a rhythm.  Our residents are all all safe.  Our staff are well-trained, wise and committed.  And you, our supporters, are loyal, passionate and enjoy tending to this garden of a home we all share in Armenia. My heart is full. And grateful. 

Sincerely Yours,

Natalie Bryant-Rizzieri

Dear friends,

Here is an excerpt from our most recent newsletter.  Our full-length newsletter is also attached.  

Thank you for your kindness and generosity toward our residents. They are sustained by your efforts.  We are grateful.  

A Strong Foundation

As the year comes to a close, we look back and are grateful for the ways in which we have grown this year.  First and foremost, Anna and Sassoon are home after lengthy stays in psychiatric institutions.  We are learning, one day at a time, how to best manage a variety of behaviors and challenges.  This is an essential part of becoming a replicable group-home model.  Our home is making steps towards greater sustainability through the securement of local resources and the drastic increase in the sales of the residents’ handicrafts.  While we are still without public Armenian funding, we have committed to new steps in 2013 that will allow us to pursue other funding sources and hopefully grow our local base of support.  Our mission is still the same -- providing loving care and home to our residents, but our foundation is stronger and our reach is greater.      

Sincerely and with Gratitude,




Dear Friends,
We wanted to share with you a recent film portrait of our home and our residents.  It may be viewed on our homepage (link below). 

The title of the film is "Out of Sight - Out of Mind."  It was written and directed by Chris Kitahara and produced by Brian J. Kremer.  
Out of Sight - Out of Mind is a documentary that offers a portrait of the residents of Warm Hearth, Armenia's first group home for orphans with disabilities.  With visual poetry as the mechanic of the piece, Kitahara addresses the plight of institutionalization that these residents face and captures the hope of a life-long home in Warm Hearth.  The daily lives of the residents are portrayed in a way that honors their dignity, humanity and beauty.  This documentary was made possible through Chris Kitahara's generous donation of time and talent, the insightful production of Brian Kremer, a Peace Corps Response volunteer who served at Warm Hearth for six months, and individual donors who provided for Chris' trip to Armenia.  



With Gratitude,



Dear friends,

You'll find the latest news on our residents completion of their college program, the staff's exemplary progress in caring for Anna & Sassoon, Alya's most recent thoughts on Davit, and other noteworthy items in our attached newsletter.  
Enjoy.  And if you have any questions or comments, please write or call.  We welcome your thoughts.  And thank you to each of you for taking the time to care about our residents and their stories. We are most grateful.  

The following is excerpted from our newsletter: 
Graduation Day


For three years most of our residents have attended Yerevan State Humanitarian College and have studied either carpet-making or permaculture.  This summer they graduated.       

Celebrations & Integration

In April, we were able to visit the residents at their college just two months before graduation. They were so proud to show us their college, to introduce us to their teachers and to display how hard they worked .  Upon arriving, we found a group of our residents in a room with full-sized carpet looms. There our residents were following precise patterns, and tying each stitch with care.  Their hands were obviously experienced.  They have learned so much.  Two other residents were upstairs in a room with botanical posters on the walls, plants along each windowsill, and notebooks full of information on trees and gardening.  We wandered outside with them to see the fruit trees that they had planted and were responsible for.  It was a gift to see them in an integrated setting with other students busily studying and learning.  They will miss the daily interaction and the challenges of learning.  We congratulate them on their accomplishment and graduation.  


Natalie (for us all) 


Dear friends & supporters,

We hope you enjoy our latest newsletter (attached) with the news from Armenia.  The following is an excerpt from our newsletter: 

Safely Home

The spring blossoms were in full bloom. The sun was gentle on our faces. Sassoon was helping one of our staff members turn the soil of the garden. Some of the residents were milling around on the balcony hanging laundry. Some were in the garden, talking with staff. Anna was playing catch in the yard. By all outward appearances it was a typical spring afternoon at Warm Hearth. But in our hearts there was something deeply joyful and profound about this simple gathering because for the first time in five years we were all together again: Sassoon (pictured here), Anna, and the rest of the Warm Hearth family. The staff had been well-prepared for the job ahead through the training. They were newly confident that this work with Anna and Sassoon could be carried out. The other residents were calm, welcoming and reassuring towards Sassoon and Anna. We were all hopeful. All of the struggle of the last five years was worth it in that moment.  This was what we had strived towards. This is what mattered. It was our last day in Armenia and it was hard to walk away from such a simple and stunning scene. We are grateful for all who helped bring Anna and Sassoon home. And as the daily work of reintegration continues, we are also grateful for the strength, wisdom and patience of our staff who carry on this work.

Blessings to each of you,

Natalie (for us all) 


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Organization Information

Friends of Warm Hearth, Inc.

Location: Flagstaff, AZ - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Warm Hearth Co-Director
Founder/Executive Director
Flagstaff, AZ United States

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