House of Hope – Mer Hooys, Inc., a 501c3 non-profit corporation, is celebrating six successful years of providing hope to young girls from severely disadvantaged backgrounds in Armenia through the Nakashian Children’s Support Center in Yerevan. Fifteen girls have graduated from the program and most are attending Yerevan State University, pursuing an education in psychology, medicine, business, computer science, food science, graphic arts, and the arts.
More than 70 percent of the girls from the first class have been reunited with a family member, after receiving family counseling from Mer Hooys staff for a year. Three graduates are married into loving families and have started their own families, while pursuing higher education. Two of the graduates live in the Nakashian Children’s Support Center’s graduate transitional living apartment, designed to help those who have no suitable family to live independently while pursuing a college education, with modest support from Mer Hooys.
Mer Hooys president, Hon. Adrienne L. Krikorian, reports that eighteen girls ages 9-15 are currently living at the Nakashian Children’s Support Center. “Our girls are creating life goals, developing social and life skills, receiving psychological counseling and educational support,” said Judge Krikorian. “They are also working on healthy family relationships. Several of the girls are sisters and all come from very disadvantaged lifestyles, some abandoned by their parent or parents at a young age.”
Mer Hooys’ highly trained staff -- consisting of three social workers, a psychologist, a pedagogue, and several mentors with graduate degrees in education, music, psychology and the arts -- support the girls on a daily basis. In addition to attending public school during the school year, the girls pursue creative arts in music, dance, gymnastics, and crafts at the Center, and actively participate in community events and public service activities. They receive lessons at the Center in language, music, religion, and computer science, as well as skills to eventually live independently.
Recently, Mer Hooys adopted a dog named Lucky from Dogs of Gyumri. The girls are learning to care responsibly for Lucky, and Lucky in turn provides the girls with unconditional love, something many of them have never experienced in their young lives. “Adding Lucky to the Mer Hooys family has given the girls great joy and the experience of responsibility, which they take very seriously,” said Judge Krikorian.
Art Exhibit and Gala Concert
On October 14, 2018, the Mer Hooys board of directors, with the support and under the auspices of His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America, will host an Art Exhibition and Gala Concert at The Performing Arts Education Center on the campus of Calabasas High School, 22955 Mulholland Highway, Calabasas, California 91302. The art exhibition, beginning at 2:30 p.m., will feature more than 50 paintings by 19-year-old Mer Hooys graduate Armine Arshakyan-Vardanyan and her husband Sooren Vardanyan. Artwork will be available as a gift to donors of specified amounts. Donations for artwork will help support the Vardanyan family.
The concert will begin at 4:00 p.m. Pianist Dr. Alexander Wasserman will perform the spectacular Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto #3 in D minor, Opus 30, with orchestra conducted by his mother Jo Anne Wasserman. The Mer Hooys Board is dedicating the performance to Dr. Wasserman’s late grandfather and Ms. Wasserman’s late father, James (Jimmy) Gondjian. Pianist Dr. Michael Krikorian, son of Ben and Clarice Krikorian of Fresno, will perform two of his own compositions/arrangements, and classical works by Rachmaninoff and Liszt/Gounod.
Vocalists Lauren Movsesian, daughter of Jeff and Karen Hazarian and daughter-in-law of Very Rev. Fr. Vazken and Susan Movsesian; Clarise and Colette Compton, daughters of Capri Mugrdechian Compton and Eric Compton; and Sevag Derderian, son of Ardashes and Marian Derderian and nephew of the Western Diocese Primate, will perform a selection of Armenian and non-Armenian numbers, accompanied by pianist Lisa Yaldezian and classical guitarist and professor of classical guitar, Satik Andriassian.
All proceeds from the event will go to support the Mer Hooys program in Armenia. Sponsorship opportunities are available with priority reserved seating until September 15, 2018; sponsors of $500 or more will receive one or more complimentary tickets. General public tickets with reserved seating will be available online beginning in August 2018. Early bird donation for tickets is $85 plus service charge; donation for tickets increases to $100 plus service charge after September 15, 2018. Information about tickets and sponsorships is available at www.mer-hooys.org, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and on the Mer Hooys Facebook page.