Warm Hearth is the first long-term group home in Armenia.
Warm Hearth started as an idea. It was born out of love and a commitment to our first group of residents. Scroll down to read about how this idea has taken root in the world.
What We've Accomplished
In 2006, we opened the first long-term group home in Armenia to eight residents from Kapan, Armenia. Our first group of residents were on the brink of being sent to psychiatric institutions only because there was no other means of support.
In 2008 and 2009, we welcomed a second group of residents with the same needs, who had outgrown the orphanages.
In addition, we established our own Armenian nonprofit, Jermik Ankyun Foundation, which is dedicated to protecting and serving our residents.
In 2012 we added a "garden house" on our property that could serve as a living space for residents with higher needs. We brought two additional residents home, who had been living in psychiatric institutions for two to five years.
What We've Learned
This is strenuous work with seasons of struggle, as well as seasons of rejoicing. We have learned much along the way that guides and sustains our continued efforts. Here are some of the insights we have come across as we have labored.
- As the Armenian proverb says, "If we move shoulder to shoulder, we can turn mountains." Nothing we have done has been accomplished alone. We rely heavily on our supporters and volunteers. Some of our best ideas have come from the "outside." As a result, we practice keeping our ears and eyes open, as well as our hearts.
- Despair and hope often walk side-by-side. We have learned to hold the hands of both.
- Individuals with disabilities and mental illnesses are even more forgotten than we initially realized both in Armenia and in much of the world. They also are of deep value. What they offer society is a unique way of viewing the world, a tenacious hope, the ability to embrace and be embraced, profound skills and insights and much more.
- Small is beautiful. One of the benefits of starting small has been that we can focus on each resident, on their individual needs, and on creating a home life that benefits them. Each step we have taken in expanding has been well thought-out. This has allowed us to move with confidence toward reaching more individuals like our residents.
- Endurance, a cultivated love, sheer grace, and a commitment to the value of these individuals are the sustenance of Warm Hearth.
Copyright: Chris Kitahara
Where We're Headed
In our first five years, we were focused on creating a group home that provided high quality and loving care to our residents. The most important thing continues to be that our residents are thriving.
In the next five years, our commitment to the residents remains the same. They are the reason for Warm Hearth. But our focus is on a sustainable model that can be replicated in Armenia so that more individuals like our residents can be served outside of institutional settings. The model we strive for utilizes private local and international donations, self-generated income projects and public funds.
Individuals with disabilities are still often institutionalized, and stigmatized as dangerous, inhuman, and shameful. But the solution we have created in Warm Hearth group home breaks is working. It breaks into what is otherwise a closed system.
Warm Hearth interrupts the negative interlocking cycles of attitude and injustice by providing an inlet for hope and change on the individual, institutional and national level.
We have built credibility with the Ministry of Labor and Social Issues in Armenia and are trying to secure a large portion of Armenian government funding for our project. We are hopeful that their contribution to our group home will allow us to open other homes to provide loving care for other orphaned or abandoned individuals with disabilities.
How You Can Help
We are grateful for the many of you who have walked with us since the beginning and for those of you who have joined us along the way. All of those involved in Warm Hearth have been ordinary people, joining their small hands, as it were, to create a welcoming place, a home, for our residents.
We are committed to continuing this work – together – and invite you to join us.
Providing a holistic community-based group home that cares for the bodies, minds and souls of Armenian orphans with disabilities.
- Our residents’ social, physical, mental, spiritual and vocational development
- Community integration that honors culture & tradition
- Dignity, respect, choice, fulfillment, privacy and independence
- Individualized care that empowers our residents to live as independently and confidently as possible, while consistently contributing to their community
- To prevent orphaned adults with mental illness or disabilities from being forced to spend the remainder of their lives in the psychiatric institutions of Armenia where their needs are unable to be met and where there is no hope for individualized care, rehabilitation and quality of life.
- To initiate a movement towards privatized and community-based care through residential care homes in the nation of Armenia that will serve as a model
**All stories and photographs of the residents are shared with their joyful permission.**