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MER HOOYS GIVES HOPE TO ARMENIA’S YOUTH FOR A PRODUCTIVE FUTURE

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THE NEED EXISTS

  • Imagine life in an orphanage in Armenia
  • You have no family – or your parents are too poor to keep you
  • You turn 18 years of age
  • You must leave the orphanage
  • You have no job skills
  • You have little education
  • You have no place to go

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WHAT RISKS DO YOUNG WOMEN FROM A DISADVANTAGED LIFESTYLE IN ARMENIA FACE

  • Prostitution
  • Human Trafficking
  • Alcoholism
  • Teen pregnancy
  • Abusive marriage
  • Suicide
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HOW DOES MER HOOYS HELP?

  • A clean, safe home
  • Family environment
  • Job skills training
  • College preparation and education
  • Life skills training
  • Psychological support & counseling
  • Hope –confidence– love
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HOW CAN YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE? BE A SPONSOR 

    BE A SPONSOR
  • Pledge your support annually to commemorate a special day in your
    life–birthday, anniversary, or other important milestone
  • Contribute to Mer Hooys in Lieu of Flowers or Gifts
  • Sponsor a room at our facility
  • Join Club 100
  • Host a Club 100 event for your friends
  • PARTICIPATE
  • Sponsor a fund-raiser, spread the word, visit Armenia and spend time
    with our residents 
  • PLEASE SUPPORT MER HOOYS

ABOUT HOUSE OF HOPE - MER HOOYS, INC

House of Hope- Mer Hooys, Inc, was established in 2008. The organization is a California non-profit tax-exempt corporation. Mer Hooys operates in partnership with the Mother Church in Etchmiadzin, with the blessings of Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, and the Western and Eastern Dioceses of the Armenian Church of North America.

Mer Hooys is dedicated to reaching out to teenage young women from disadvantaged lifestyles who do not have the means to otherwise acquire meaningful job skills development and training, an advanced education, life and social skills development, psychological and spiritual counseling and mentorship. The program operates in a recently renovated two story building in Yerevan recently named the “Nakashian
Children’s Support Center” in honor of its benefactors, the late John, Arpine and Jack Nakashian. Mer Hooys provides a nurturing family environment that instills encouragement and hope for these young adults’ future.

Our young women receive advice and encouragement from skilled professionals, including social workers, psychologists and educators. They receive the necessary assistance and tools to navigate the challenges of education in all areas including language development, self-development and independent living.  Our residents enjoy a supportive program that teaches them the skills needed to lead productive adult lives, and to make positive decisions for themselves, including learning that prostitution, human trafficking, and domestic violence are unacceptable life choices.  Mer Hooys also helps our girls develop long-term goals for their life. They have the opportunity to learn trades under the mentorship of masters in their chosen fields.  They receive training in the arts and music, fitness, and sports.  They also go on cultural and educational field trips to historic sites in Armenia, and are exposed to spiritual and religious training through interaction with clergy from the Mother Church. 

Armenia’s future lies in its nurturing of young people. Our mission is to help these youth to recognize and develop their talent and skills and to utilize those assets as a resource on their journey of maturity. By doing so, our mission is to empower the youth of Armenia to be part of the path to securing a better future for Armenia and the rest of the world.

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MER HOOYS BOARD MEMBERS

Adrienne L. Krikorian – President (Woodland Hills, California)

Adrienne L. Krikorian, Esq., is a California Administrative Law Judge in the area of Special Education.  A licensed attorney, Ms. Krikorian is also an adjunct professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. She has devoted her extensive volunteer work over the past forty years to a variety of non-profit organizations focusing on the needs of youth and others in need. She has been an active leader in the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church, and has served on the Board of Directors of Haven Hills, Inc. (a shelter for victims of domestic violence).  She is former President of Our Home-Mer Doon, Inc., which serves the needs of young women in Armenia from disadvantaged backgrounds. Ms. Krikorian has served her local parish, St. Peter Armenian Church in Van Nuys in leadership roles since the 1970’s; as a member of the Western Diocese Diocesan Council; and on various boards and committees on the Diocesan level. In November 2014, His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, honored Ms. Krikorian, who is a co-founder of House of Hope – Mer Hooys, Inc., by awarding her the St. Nerses Shnorhali Medal and Encyclical, which recognized her lifelong volunteer service to the Armenian Church and community.


Garo Garibian, M.D. – Vice-President (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Dr. Garo Garibian, M.D., received his undergraduate degree at Princeton University and his medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania. He has a busy Cardiology practice in Philadelphia and is the chief of Cardiology at Jeanes Hospital. Dr. Garibian, ordained as a deacon in 1989, has devoted his life to service in the Armenian Church on the Parish and Diocesan level. After the devastating 1988 earthquake, Dr. Garibian visited Armenia numerous times bringing medicines and supplies, acting as an ambassador for the motherland. Dr. Garibian served on the Board of and is a benefactor of Our Home-Mer Hooys, Inc.; he is also a benefactor of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America, and numerous other charitable organizations in the United States. Dr. Garibian is a founder of Mer Hooys.


Deacon Barlow Der Mugrdechian – Vice-President (Fresno, California)

Barlow Der Mugrdechian received his M.A. and C. Philosophy degrees from UCLA, where he majored in Armenian Language and Literature through the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Literatures. For more than twenty years he has taught Armenian language, history, literature, culture, church and a variety of courses on Armenia and the Armenians at California State University at Fresno. Dn. Der Mugrdechian, who recently completed a 2 year term as the Chairman of the Western Diocese Diocesan Council, has been an active leader of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America, serving in leadership roles both on the Parish and Diocesan level. He served as a board member of Our Home – Mer Doon, Inc., and is a founder of Mer Hooys.


Varouj Altebarmakian, M.D. –Treasurer (Fresno, California)

Varouj Altebarmakian, M.D., received his medical degree from the American University of Beirut in 1974. He is a Board Certified Urologist. Dr. Altebarmakian is Physician in Chief of The Permanente Medical Group in Fresno. He is also an active servant of the Armenian Church, serving on the Supreme Spiritual Council of the Holy See of Etchmiadzin, several terms as Chairman of the Diocesan Council of the Western Diocese, and as a leader on the Parish level. Dr. Altebarmakian was actively involved in the future program planning and fund raising efforts of the U.S. Board of Mer Doon and is a founder of Mer Hooys.

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Rev. Fr. Sarkis Petoyan – Advisor (Pasadena, California)

Father Sarkis Petoyan is a graduate of California State University at Northridge with a B.A. in Humanities, St. Nerses Armenian Theological Seminary in New York and St. Vladimir Orthodox Theological Seminary in New York, where he earned a Master of Divinity. Ordained in 1998, Fr. Sarkis served as the parish priest of St. John Armenian Church of San Francisco from 1998 through September, 2009.  In October 2009, Fr. Sarkis became the parish priest of St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church in Pasadena, California.  As part of his ministry and commitment to Armenia, Fr. Sarkis, and his wife Taleen, have led annual pilgrimages to Armenia for members of the Western Diocese. Prior to his education and ordination to the priesthood, Father Sarkis worked in the financial industry as a bank manager. Fr. Sarkis and his wife are the proud parents of a daughter, Grace.


Alice Kalustian – Advisory Board (Northridge, California)

Alice Kalustian has been an active leader in the Armenian community and the Armenian Church since her teenage years. She recently completed a two year term as the Treasurer of the Grand Council of the Daughters of Vartan. Ms. Kalustian, who worked for many years as an office manager and bookkeeper, is currently a per-diem administrative assistant for Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Woodland Hills, California. She has three adult daughters, and two granddaughters, and enjoys spending her spare time traveling and volunteering her talents to charitable organizations. Ms. Kalustian serves on the advisory board of Mer Hooys and serves as Assistant Treasurer.


Harriet Jendian Phillips – Advisory Board (Mandalay Bay, California)

Harriet Jendian Phillips has spent the better part of her life serving the needs of Armenian youth. She has taught Sunday School, served as a youth advisor, and as a member of the Youth Activities Committee of St. Peter Apostolic Church in Van Nuys, California. Mrs. Phillips has also served as director of the youth program for the San Fernando YWCA, as a member and president of the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles YWCA, Ways and Means Chairman, program chairman for the Granada Hills YW Wives, and as a Girl Scout leader. Professionally, Mrs. Phillips has served as event planner, owned and operated a catering company, and has lectured and demonstrated food decorating to many community organizations, schools, and church groups. Mrs. Phillips was co-owner of J-4 Communications, serving as executive secretary and office manager. She is married to husband Tom, has three daughters and one son, 3 stepsons and 15 grandchildren, ages 4-18. Mrs. Phillips continues to serve as an active community leader alongside her husband. In their spare time, Mr. and Mrs. Phillips travel extensively throughout the world, including Armenia, enjoying the many sights and people of each country they visit.


Lynn Nakashian – Advisory Board (Warren, New Jersey)

Lynn became interested in the plight of youth in Armenia when she visited the country with her father John Nakashian in 2006. He was so moved by what he saw that he provided generous financial support to renovate the abandoned and dilapidated two-story former kindergarten school that is now the home of Mer Hooys. Both Lynn and her daughter Melanie are active in service projects, including participating in building projects by the Fuller Center for Housing in Armenia. Lynn recently completed a term on the Board of Deacons of the Liberty Corner Presbyterian Church in New Jersey. She is a member of the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance National Response Team for the Presbyterian Church. Lynn received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Bethany College (WV), and her master of science in journalism from West Virginia University. She works in the pharmaceutical industry.


Lisa Kalustian – Advisory Board (Los Angeles, California)

Lisa Kalustian is an accomplished strategist with senior-level corporate and government experience in complex issues management, proactive and crisis communications, policy development and implementation, and media relations.  She has served in leadership positions with California Governors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Pete Wilson, as well as vice president of public affairs for the Western Region of Health Net, Inc., one of the nation’s largest health insurance companies.  Ms. Kalustian has a master’s degree in public administration from USC, a bachelor’s degree in psychology from UCLA, and is a graduate of the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs.  She currently serves on the boards of directors of the Armenian Assembly of America and Coro Southern California, and is a Trustee of the Armenian Church Western Diocese Endowment Fund.  Previously, Ms. Kalustian served on the Western Diocese Armenian Church Summer Camp Committee and the board of directors for the Armenian International Women’s Association (AIWA) Los Angeles Chapter.  


Lucy Erysian – Advisory Board (Fresno, California)

Lucy Erysian, a native of Armenia, is a founding member of Swiss Armenian Youth Club (“Aragast”).  She has considerable experience and training in grant writing after completing a 3-month intensive training on grant writing and leadership at the Armenia Assembly of America NGO center.  She was successful in obtaining a grant for a regional orphanage in Armenia.  Ms. Erysian has devoted the past several years to serving Armenia’s orphans and deserving youth in numerous capacities.  In 1996, she became the representative of Youth in Armenia at the United Nations.  She participated in the 22nd World Youth Congress in Vienna, and developed a conflict resolution program for youth.  Ms. Erysian participated in the establishment of Habitat for Humanity in Armenia.  Ms. Erysian, who resides in Fresno, is married and the mother of two children.

MEET OUR GIRLS


  • Alina H. Alina H.
  • Ani H. Ani H.
  • Ani M. Ani M.
  • Ani P. Ani P.
  • Araksya G. Araksya G.
  • Arevik D. Arevik D.
  • Armine A. Armine A.
  • Armine P. Armine P.
  • Gohar P. Gohar P.
  • Hasmik N. Hasmik N.
  • Lena P. Lena P.
  • Lilit G. Lilit G.
  • Ruzana N. Ruzana N.
  • Varsik P. Varsik P.


OUR STAFF

SENIOR STAFF

Mihran Mirijanyan – Executive Director

Mihran Mirijanyan, a native of Yerevan, Armenia, is a 1999 graduate of Yerevan State University, Faculty of Russian Philology.  After serving two years in the National Army of Armenia, he attended two years at the Public Administration Academy - Yerevan, Armenia, Faculty of Public Administration where he received a law degree. He later worked as a specialist with the Ministry of Energy of the Republic of Armenia, in the Department of Development and External Relations, External Relations and Coordination of Investment Projects Division, and External Relations, Protocol Division.  In 2007-2008, Mr. Mirijanyan served as the assistant to the Minister of Energy, and traveled to Brussels to the Energy Charter of the EU as a representative of the Republic of Armenia. In 2009-2010, he worked in the Ministry of Justice.

Mihran has been with Mer Hooys since the spring of 2011.  He brings to Mer Hooys extensive experience working with the Armenian government and familiarity with a variety of organizations based in Armenia that provide services to programs such as Mer Hooys.  He has been instrumental in establishing beneficial relationships between Mer Hooys and the government, local community, the Church, and local non-profit organizations.  He handled all tasks required to prepare the facility to receive our first group of residents in the fall 2012. 

Currently, in addition to collaborating regularly with the U.S. Board and the on-site professional team, he oversees all government and public relations, manages the maintenance and repair of the facility and supervises facility staff.  In addition, he serves as an ambassador and representative of the U.S. Board with the Armenian government and Mother See.  Beginning in fall 2014, he will be pursuing a PhD in public administration from Public Administration Academy of Armenia.

Mihran is married with a four-year-old son, and considers each of our Mer Hooys girls part of his own family.  He is a dedicated partner with the U.S. Board, and has committed himself to improve the lives of our girls.


Noune Geghamyan PhD – Program Director

Noune Geghamyan has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in social work from Yerevan State University sociology department, and a PhD in Economy.  She has served as lecturer at Yerevan State University from 2006-2013.  As of 2014, she is associate professor and the chair of social work and social technologies.  In 2003, she co-founded the International Association of Social Workers in Armenia.  Her practical experience includes serving as co-founder of a day care center for children with special needs, and serving as a programs manager for training programs for multidisciplinary teams working with orphan children. 
 


Noune is responsible for the development and management of all aspects of the Mer Hooys program for our girls.  In addition to collaborating with outside professional resources, she meets regularly with our professional staff, and is responsible for oversight of all program-related staff in collaboration with the Executive Director and U.S. Board of Directors.
 
Noune is married and has two children, ages 9 and 8 years old.  She speaks Russian, Armenian and English.


Gayane Saribekyan – Social Worker

Gayane Saribekyan graduated from Yerevan State Engineering University in 1992. She continued her education in the department of sociology and social work of Yerevan State University.  Her credentials and work history are exemplary and a great asset to Mer Hooys.  She is a social worker and has received a license as a school director from the Ministry of Education and Science.

Gayane’s work history includes positions in management of state institutions for twenty years.  She was responsible for overseeing the committee of domestic conflict intervention, child-care and upbringing, adoption and guardianship, referral of children to orphanages and returning them to their biological families. 

She took over the management of the educational system of Yerevan Ajapnyak administrative district, where she coordinated the activities of educational and cultural institutions, 16 kindergartens, 20 schools, 7 musical schools, where thousands of children and teenagers attended.  She headed a professional group working with orphanage graduates, as well as with teenagers, with problematic behavior, which gives her an understanding and empathy toward their needs. She has participated in and implemented numerous trainings, including parenting trainings, teacher training, and family mediation. Gayane is one of four founders of the Armenian Association of Social Workers, and currently serves as the chairman of the audit committee.

Gayane’s role at Mer Hooys is to evaluate the domestic needs of the residents, manage their recovery intervention plans, work with their socialization and integration into society, arrange their independent lives, general development and raising their awareness of themselves and their participation in society.  She develops community participation programs for the girls, collaborating with state governmental and international non-governmental organizations.

Gayane, who is dedicated to improving the lives of our Mer Hooys residents, is most gratified when she has a successful case with a positive outcome related to children’s lives and their recovery.  She is married and has one adult daughter who currently lives in the United States.  She also maintains a close relationship with a young woman whom she fostered as a child.


Lilit Bakunts

Lilit Bakunts – Chief Educational Instructor

Lilit Bakunts is a graduate of Yerevan State Pedagogical University, Department of Pedagogic and Psychology. She has practical training and experience in nutrition and educational psychology. Lilit’s work experience includes time spent at Bormental Center, AKCON Medical Center in Sochi, Russia where she worked with children with psychological challenges.  

Lilit has been an important member of the Mer Hooys family since October 2012, when she joined the team as chief mentor.   As part of that role, Lilit was instrumental in meeting the challenges of starting a brand new program while coordinating the transition of the first class of girls from institutional life to the nurturing environment at Mer Hooys.  She is a role model and mentor for each of the girls.  In January 2014, she became chief educational instructor.

Lilit’s responsibilities include collaborating with the U.S. Board, other staff professional team members, coordinating and overseeing the overall educational program for the girls, and supervising contracted, volunteer and staff educators and mentors.   She meets regularly with other senior staff to help develop each girl’s daily program and her eventual transition to upper education or career development.

Lilit, who enjoys travel to France, where her sister lives, is fluent in Armenian, Russian and English, and is currently studying French.


Suzanna Juharyan

Suzanna Juharyan – Senior Consultant

Suzanna Juharyan is a 1997 graduate of Yerevan State University, Faculty of Sociology and a 2000 graduate of Moscow School of Social and Economic Science, Faculty of Social Work and Social Administration where she received her Master of Science in Social Work.  She has been a member of the faculty at YSU as a lecturer since her graduation.  The scientific fields of her interests are the historical aspects of social work development in Armenia, implementing case management methodology in social services and organizing the field practice for the students of the Social work department in YSU.

 In addition to her role at YSU, Ms. Juharyan has worked in Armenia and internationally as a researcher, counselor, trainer and expert in projects focusing on the needs of youth and women, including “Teenagers’ Hotline”, “Prevention on HIV/AIDS”, “Social Workers’ Training Program”, “Violence Against Women,” etc.   She participates in projects directed toward the development of social protection systems, especially designing the integrated social services system in Armenia.

Ms. Juharyan, who in July 2014 relocated her family to Austria for the next few years, served as program director from February 2014 until July 2014. She was instrumental in developing the infrastructure for the current model under which the program is now operating and hiring the professional staff now serving our program. She remains part of the team as a consultant to the program staff and the U.S. Board. Ms. Juharyan is fluent in Armenian, Russian and English.  She is married and mother of two children.


Support Staff

The Mer Hooys program staff includes 5 rotating teacher/mentors who include a psychologist and a social worker.  They are Hasmik Hakobyan, Tsovik Grigoryan, Tatevik Gevorgyan, Anahit Xachatryan, and Syuzan Vardumyan.  Additionally, we have a part-time psychologist, a part-time doctor, a part-time accountant, a warehouse director who also serves as assistant facility director, security guards/maintenance workers, kitchen staff, and housekeeping staff.  Numerous volunteers from Yerevan State University and other agencies provide support services to the girls in the areas of tutoring, music instruction, and language instruction.  Meet some of our support staff members:

     

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Page last updated: August 30, 2014