Mer Hooys is dedicated to providing opportunities for severely disadvantaged at-risk girls in Armenia so they may achieve a productive and secure future. These girls come from extremely impoverished families, and either have been, or are in imminent danger of being, placed in boarding schools, crisis facilities or foster care.
Without comprehensive support as they mature, girls from depressed social backgrounds in Armenia have little hope for a bright future. Instead, they inevitably fall into lives of prostitution, human trafficking, homelessness and victims of domestic violence. Our residential program teaches them the skills needed to lead productive adult lives, and to make positive decisions for themselves and their futures.
By empowering these youths to secure stable independent lives for themselves, we are not only investing in them, but also in the future of Armenia as new social paradigms strive for the changes necessary to effectively break the cycles of poverty and abuse.
Incorporated in December 2008 as a California 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Mer Hooys opened the Nakashian Children’s Support Center in October 2012 with our first “class” of 15 girls ages 13-15 years old. The two-story renovated building in the suburbs of Yerevan, Armenia, is named in honor of its benefactors, the late John, Arpine and Jack Nakashian. The program 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 does not receive any financial support, or direct intervention in our program operations, from the Armenian government or the Mother See of Etchmiadzin. The only government funding our residents receive is assistance provided to all students in Armenia, regardless of their situations.
Our Board of Directors is responsible for raising the approximately $150,000 annually required to run our program. The U.S. dollar buys approximately 20 percent less than it did in 2012, and the Armenian economy continues to experience challenges.
Our fundraising is supplemented with generous donations of goods and services, which defray more than one-fourth of our expenses in Armenia. Program participants attend free public school, and local university students and diaspora philanthropic organizations donate tutoring services and English lessons. Our budgeted educational costs reflect our expenses for tutoring by our staff, unsubsidized cultural field trips, and classes and training in technology and the arts.
Mer Hooys operates with fiscal accountability and transparency. We have an accountant in Armenia who regularly provides us with detailed cash flow reports and a certified public accountant in the United States reviews our financial records and prepares our annual tax returns and reports. The U.S. Board spends less than 10 percent of our total annual income on administrative costs and non-operational staff expenses — including travel to Armenia to supervise staff and interact with the residents. That means more than 90 percent of all donations are dedicated to providing the service and support our girls need – including professional program and counseling, supplementary educational programs & training, shelter, food, clothing and school supplies.