Category Archives: Give the Gift of Christmas to…

Give the Gift of Christmas 2012: Birthright Armenia

It’s been a year and a half since I left the one place I felt I belonged. It has been 16 months since I boarded the man-made contraption that would wrench me away from the stone fortress jutting proudly from the earth, daring the Heavens to strike, convinced she would forever possess her instinct of self-preservation. The time has past, but the emotions that the experience I was gifted with invoked have remained the same. My heart still yearns for Armenia. My soul still demands to be set free among the sacred stone architecture dotting the land. My every move, my every thought, every fiber of my being, is dedicated to the homeland I have adopted completely. I found myself in a place I was not born, reveling in the wonder of the moment. I discovered the person I am proud of, the individual I want to be, in the whispers of the wind singing to me the lore and legends of times long past. This I owe to the people working for a rather spectacular organization, Birthright Armenia. This I owe to the one reason I was given such an unforgettable opportunity, Birthright Armenia. What I owe, I can never repay. That won’t stop me from trying.

The year 2012 marked a record number of 128 participants. Yerevan office and BR fundraiser in the States have put a lot of effort to make things happen: travel fellowships, homestay living, Armenian language classes, discovery excursions, alumni programs and more!

Last year, I made this shout-out to the world:
This year, I make another. Up until December 31, every donation will be matched 1:1. Any amount you can contribute will be doubled by the founder of this amazing organization. Give a gift this Christmas that will provide the same opportunity I was blessed with to another young Armenian, to explore and discover for him or herself the secrets those stones whisper through the wind. I have given my contribution. Don’t hesitate to give yours!

Contact info:

United States
T: 610-642-6633

T: +37410-54-00-37


Read the stories by those who have been given the opportunity:



Give the Gift of Christmas to- The Armenian Relief Society

There are few organizations with as good a reputation and as much prestige as the Armenian Relief Society. It is one that serves the people, through the volunteer work of its people, helping both Armenians and all those affected by natural disasters, et al.

Founded in New York City, NY, in 1910, the Society, known at the time as the Armenian Red Cross, held its First Convention with delegates from 33 chapters, in Boston, Massachusetts on May 30, 1915. In March 1921, it was invited to participate in the 10th Convention of the International Red Cross, held in Geneva, Switzerland.

With the demise of the 1st Armenian Republic, no longer fulfilling the requirements of regulations set by international law, it participated in the International Red Cross conventions as an observer, and until February 26, 1946, it operated under the name of Armenian Relief Corps, at which date the 36 years old organization, duly incorporated, assumed its present name, Armenian Relief Society, Inc. The organization was recognized as exempt from Federal income tax in March 1949 and is exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Today, with entities in 27 countries and a membership of around 15,000, the ARS is an independent, non-sectarian philanthropic society serving the humanitarian and cultural needs of the Armenian people.

Maintaining high ethical standards, the Society fosters good fellowship and a common purpose among its world-wide membership, channeling their energies toward supporting the social, educational, health and welfare activities of Armenian communities. The ARS makes special appropriations for food, medicine and clothing in times of war, epidemics or natural disasters, bringing aid to the disabled, the sick and the needy, prisoners of war, orphans and refugees.

The Society continues to remain active through specific programs in furthering Armenian educational and cultural activity through the establishment and financial support of kindergartens, summer camps, schools and scholarship programs. Through the implementation of these diverse projects, the Society enhances its members’ self-educational and developmental goals by encouraging involvement in public service, and participation in the activities of organizations whose principles are compatible to those of the ARS.

Since the 1970-s, closely involved in UN activities, and as a consultative member of ECOSOC, the ARS, as an internationally involved NGO, remains a strong advocate of human rights, social justice and civil society around the world.

As is explained in the videos, ARS provides much needed assistance all over the world.

If there is anything particular you would like to help with, contact your nearest ARS office or the central office.

The preferable means of communications with the ARS, Inc. is through email. Staff members’ email addresses are located on the “Senior Staff” page; you can also email the ARS, Inc. Central Executive Board on You can also contact us through the CONTACT FORM below.

The ARS, Inc. International Office’s mailing address is:
ARS, Inc.
80 Bigelow Avenue, Suite 300
Watertown, MA 02472
U. S. A.

Phone: +1-617-926-5892
Fax: +1-617-926-4855
Skype: arssecretary

For online donations:

Furthermore, each region and chapter has its own email… if you need help finding any contact information, leave a message here. If you want advice on which programs to assist on or in becoming an ARS member, I would also be eager to help.

Give the Gift of Christmas to- St. Hagop Church Day Care Centre, Gyumri

  • The St Hagop Church Day Care in Gyumri is another charity foundation I have direct links to and know of their sincerity and honest work. This Christmas, gift the gift of education and warm food to the children of Gyumri!

1.    Project Background

Poverty in Armenia has become more widespread and severe, with 80% of people falling below the poverty line as of 2004, per United Nation’s Survey. According to the UN, about 55% deemed to be poor are living in extreme poverty.

The reality of Armenia’s everyday life is that a large proportion of the population lives on or below the poverty line. The hard socio-economic conditions of the families have a negative impact on the educational and cultural development of the children. The education is free, but during the first years in school the child needs help by the parents. The children from these families usually take their first steps alone, as the parents are burdened with economic problems. Some children even lose interest in education and leave school.

The project is implemented in the new district of Gyumri, mostly populated by families living poorly. Such are the conditions, that many of these families spend their winters without heating and adequate basic needs.

The project aims to offer comfort to a minimum of 30 children, improving their education and social conditions, with a provision of hot meals, excursions and summer camps by the Social Center of the St. Hakob church in Gyumri.

The Centre has over eight years of experience in providing for the children of the city, allowing them to take advantage of all the classes offered, including but not limited to dancing, English and handcrafts. Summer camps and regular excursions are also part of the program, meant to allow the children a chance to explore outside their immediate surroundings and understand their country as a whole.

The program’s duration is a total of one year, after which the staff will redesign and develop the program to suit the fast-paced world the children live in, tailoring to the generation’s immediate needs. The care of those entrusted to the program is of the utmost importance.

2. Problem analysis of the target group

This project has been proposed in order to try to alleviate some of the problems that a low socioeconomic status creates in the population’s lives. The low educational and spiritual development of those living in extreme poverty is a cause for alarm and immediate action must be taken to reduce it however possible. The cause of these problems cannot be tackled by a single program as they are on a national and global level. However, since the basic needs of children within the city canot be met by their immediate families, social services must come to their aid and provide for.

The Social Centre of the St. Hakob church was founded in 2003, located in the Ani District of Gyumri. From the first moment, the purpose had been to organize classes in teaching English, Russian, computer skills, music, and alternate classes for dancing and crafting such as carpentry. Soon, a Sunday school was established. Upon noticing that many of the children were malnourished and in need of proper care, the staff decided to take the initiative and provide hot meals alongside any help the children might specifically need. The Centre thus developed the current program of providing the children with not only an education and hot meals, but also giving them a chance to enjoy themselves and learn more than textbooks can give through multiple excursions throughout the year.

The Centre refers directly to Bishop Michael Ajapahian and the Armenian Apostolic Church. It also cooperates with the World Wision Armenia office in Gyumri, situated in the same district. Many small projects are also taken on, such as the provision of computer and printers, organized pilgrimages to monasteries such as Khor Virab, Karni and Keghart. The designing of national dresses (taraz) for the centre’s dancing group is also a project constantly worked on.

3. Target Group

  1. About 30 children from extreme poverty ridden families in the Ani District of Gyumri, Armenia
  1. About 80 members of the children’s families


  • The project has developed into working on enabling the children from the extremely poor families of Gyumri in the Shirak Marz to integrate into society and be treated equally, by providing a range of supportive services.


  • ·         Day Care Centre
  • ·         Organizing educational activities
  • ·         Provision of hot food, hygiene care
  • ·         Organization of Art, Leisure activities and social events
  • ·         Psychological rehabilitation and life skill development
  • ·         Organizing psychological and art therapy
  • ·         Summer camps
  • ·         Excursions to churches, monasteries and other places of interest

5. Implementing Organization

  1. The Social Centre of the St. Hakob Church was founded in 2003. The first steps of the centre were educational classes in English, Russian, Armenian, and history. According to the modern methods of education, a computer class was added. Because of the large hall available for use, the staff decided on implementing dance lessons as well. A class for crafts and trade training was also added in recent years
  2. The idea is in the hands of experienced workers as a similar project was implemented in the years 2000-2001
  3. Training courses are offered on a regular basis to the staff
  4. In current conditions, there are only 7 staff members, though a total of 9 is necessary for better results
  5. Originally, the program was to be for the years 2002-2003, though with the help of donors, has continued to grow over the years with a plan to have it renewed annually

6. Staff

  • Training courses are offered on a regular basis to the staff
  • In current conditions, there are only 7 staff members, though a total of 9 is necessary for better results
  • Originally, the program was to be for the years 2002-2003, though with the help of donors, has continued to grow over the years with a plan to have it renewed annually

7. Ownership

  • His Exellence, Bishop M. Ajapahian, leader of Shirak Diocese, alongside the whole of the Armenian Apostolic Church owns the rights to the centre’s equipment and proceedings.
  • Project will be implemented during the school year (September-May)
  • Summer holidays will be spent in a summer camp at Eghnajur (30km north of Gyumri)

8. Project duration

  • Project will be implemented during the school year (September-May)
  • Summer holidays will be spent in a summer camp at Eghnajur (30km north of Gyumri)

9. Monitoring

  • Monthly reports with invoices, bills and other financial documentation and additional video and photo materials will be sent to the postal address of the donors
  • The schedule can be changed by donors, should they see fit

10. Resources and specific budget

  • The Centre has the permits, furniture and partial staff necessary for the project, including: a kitchen, classes, hall for dance, and space for additional project usage.
  • The donors would cover cost of food, staff salary, transportation and unforeseen costs to be outlined in financial reports.
  • The Shirak Diocese covers maintenance costs such as gas, electricity, water, cleaning, and other fees directly associated with the building.

11. Contact

Give the Gift of Christmas to- Birthright Armenia

Every year, we spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on gifts for loved ones and those we feel obligated to buy for, such as teachers, co-workers, etc. However, we forget the true meaning of giving and the true meaning of Christmas. We spend months’ worth of savings on things that are unnecessary, on objects that hold no value, often only to show that the bigger gift was ours. We forget to thank our friends and family for sticking by us when we needed them most, but instead give them something material and without a personal touch. We forget that there’s more to a gathering than the food and the presence, and often leave as soon as it’s polite to do so. We do everything because we don’t want to appear like a scrooge, because people will talk if we don’t and because we are expected to. However, there are many in this world who are denied those simple pleasures that the Christmas festivities provide. There are 21,000 children who die daily because of preventable causes that they have no access to eradicate. More than anything, there are those in Armenia who would be forever grateful for any small gift they receive.

As such, I will be compiling a list of organizations that we could give to. Organizations that are legitimate, that provide the help necessary and often become the spurring mechanism for the youth to take action.

The first such organization is Birthright Armenia.

Birthright Armenia is an amazing organization that caters to providing Armenian youth, ages 20-32, with the irreplaceable opportunity of living and working in their homeland for a minimum of 2 months. Between paying for airfare and homestays, preparing extremely interesting forums and amazing trips around the country, providing a warm and welcoming atmosphere, and giving Armenians from around the world the opportunity to experience their homeland as more than a tourist, their program is unique and one I highly recommend. You live and volunteer in Armenia, working in multiple sectors, including but not restricted to non-profits, private businesses and governmental agencies.

Furthermore, the opportunity this organization provides is immense! It allows the youth from the diaspora to experience the real Armenia, to learn about the social problems and to dream up ways of changing what they find unjust. It gives them the much needed foot in the door and becomes the catalyst to many a young Armenian’s dream to move to the country and play their role on the stage that is our world.

On the other hand, all this costs money. Every year the number of young adults applying to the program increases. As such, I would greatly encourage donating to Birthright Armenia. Make this amazingly run organization into one you help mold and better. Each dollar donated helps to bring in fresh volunteers, each placing their stone higher in the building of our ideal future for our country. I, myself, contributed to the Alumni GiveBack Fund, so that another volunteer like myself will be able to experience what I did this past summer. It is my wish that every Armenian born and raised outside their rightful homeland gets at least this one chance to make a difference where its needed.

This year, instead of wasting so much on objects that might never be used, give a gift to a stranger. Give the gift of an unforgettable experience and a chance of a lifetime!

Contact info:

United States
T: 610-642-6633

T: +37410-54-00-37


Donate at: