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The Paros Foundation underwrites all administrative and overhead costs allowing 100% of all donor contributions to go directly towards projects and supported organizations.

Donations to The Paros Foundation Projects for Prosperity are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law. To sponsor a project through The Paros Foundation, a 501 (c) 3 organization (Tax ID 20-5094630), or learn more about specific projects in need of funding, please contact us using the information below.


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Paros Blog

Why Gyumri?

Sarah Derderian enjoying the afternoon with one of her four legged friends.

Almost three years ago I made the move from Philadelphia, PA to Gyumri, Armenia to work at the Debi Arach Children’s Center. What I expected to be a one-year assignment has evolved into a longer-term, life changing adventure. Since the day I arrived, I have been asked the same question repeatedly from everybody I meet (whether they are from Armenia or elsewhere.) “Why Armenia? Why Gyumri?”. The “Why Armenia?” question is very simple to answer.  I am one of many repatriates who were born outside of our motherland, but decided to move back. “Why Gyumri?” is the question that I struggle putting its answer into words.

Today, Gyumri is commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Spitak earthquake; the earthquake that took the lives, homes, jobs, and futures of so many people. Now, 30 years later, many locals say that not much has changed. Sure, there are new buildings, new businesses, new places to go, but an uneasyness arises any time the topic of the earthquake is mentioned. A city that was once the cultural capital of Armenia, which prospered under the Soviet Union, the home of some of Armenia’s most famous comedians, playwrights, and artists,  is now a place  where many people struggle daily to survive. Three generations of people continue to live in what seems to be a never-ending cycle of poverty.

 Why Gyumri? I chose Gyumri because there islife outside of Yerevan and I wanted to move to a community where I felt I could contribute to a greater cause. I chose Gyumri because I believe in the power of education and the importance of nurturing the next generation. I chose Gyumri to instill hope among students who may not believe in a future.

 Gyumri is not an easy place to live. On the contrary, it’s very difficult to live in a community riddled in poverty and in many aspects stuck in a Soviet mentality. But, what gets me through is my work at Debi Arach and the hope that the investment we make in this next generation will be a solid step in moving Gyumri forward. I currently work with an amazing group of children who are the next generation of Armenia’s doctors, politicians, programmers, and leaders. 

 I guess I’m here to say that there is hope in Gyumri, and that’s “Why Gyumri.”


Sarah Derderian works as development officer and special projects director at the Debi Arach Children’s Center in Gyumri.  Sarah has also founded the D.O.G.-Dogs of Gyumri project, which works to spray and neuter street dogs and arrange for adoptions of puppies.  Be sure to visit Sarah, Debi Arach and D.O.G when you are in Armenia.

Paros Blog

The Paros Promise!

Its only Tuesday and I have already been asked twice this week about our “100%” promise, so I thought I would take a moment and explain this significant part of our Paros philanthropic model.

Thanks to the on-going commitment and generosity of the Strauch-Kulhanjian Family and our Founder and Chairman, Roger Strauch, 100% of donor contributions (a.k.a. funds that we raise from the community) are applied directly and entirely to fund projects in Armenia.  These are either projects that we have identified and are implementing, or projects that donors have identified and partnered with us on their funding and implementation.  Roger and his family annually underwrite 100% of The Paros Foundation’s administrative costs.  Salaries (two full-time in the U.S. and three in Armenia,) our travel to and from and within Armenia, office supplies, postage, marketing materials, etc. all add up, and we are fortunate to continue to have Roger’s and his family’s support to underwrite these necessities. This significant commitment has helped build trust between our Foundation and the community and allows us to be fully transparent.

If you are thinking about Thanksgiving and “Giving Tuesday,” please keep Paros and our 100% promise in mind!

Press Releases

Nor Keghi Celebrates Renovation of Kindergarten Auditorium

Children at the Kindergarten in Nor Keghi performing at the opening celebration!

On July 6, 2018 The Paros Foundation’s staff and SERVICE Armenia 2018 participants joined the mayor, staff, parents and children of Nor Keghi in Kotayk province to celebrate the opening of the newly renovated kindergarten auditorium.

The Arakelyan Kindergarten facilitates the early education of more than 85 children.  The renovation of the multipurpose room, stage, ready room, adjacent hallway and stairwell was made possible by the generosity of the Detroit based Nor Keghi Association which sponsored the project.   The Paros Foundation had previously renovated two bathrooms at the kindergarten as part of its 100 for 100 Projects for Prosperity initiative in 2015 with the support of the Nigoghosianfamily.

“We were able to help Nor Keghi’skindergarten solve another important issue with the help of the Nor Keghi Association and its fundraising efforts,” said Peter Abajian, Executive Director of The Paros Foundation. “The village population is increasing, and the kindergarten principal has requested we help them expand by renovating additional rooms.”

Nor Keghi Mayor, Kindergarten staff, parents, and friends gathered with The Paros Foundation’s staff and SERVICE Armenia 2018 group to celebrate the successful completion of the remodel.

For the auditorium project, The Paros Foundation team installed new doors and windows, resurfaced the existing wood parquet floors, installed laminate flooring in the ready room and stage area, added new electrical and lighting throughout and repaired and painted the walls and ceiling.  The team also worked with the mayor to bring proper heating to the facility.  Following the renovation, 80 high quality stackable chairs were delivered to outfit the multipurpose room. A plaque will be installed in the auditorium acknowledging sponsorship of the project by the descendants of Keghi through the Nor Keghi Association in association with The Paros Foundation.

“It is so heartwarming to see pictures of the renovated multipurpose room of the Arakelyan Kindergarten,” said Nor Keghi Association President, Richard Norsigian. “When my son, Shant and I entered the room in person last September, we were

Children at the Kindergarten in Nor Keghi express their appreciation during a performance in the newly renovated multipurpose room.

devastated – it looked like a tornado had hit it!  It was unusable.  We were deeply saddened to think our little Armenian kindergartners did not have an indoor facility for activities.  The pictures of the now completely renovated multipurpose room brought tears of joy to my eyes.  To our generous Keghetzis and friends who made the renovation possible, I say vartzkernees gadarand God willing, we have only just begun!”


Paros Blog

Its the little things that add up!

Its been a while since I blogged about our current activities.  Certainly NOT because our team is not getting things done, but just the contrary! We are in our pre-summer run up to SERVICE Armenia 2018 and a in the midst of planning for a terrific fundraiser in New York on June 7th.  I have to say, it has been difficult being in the US watching from afar the incredible changes that are taking place in Armenia this last month.  I honestly feel cheated that I am not in Hayastan. My timing really does suck.  I have been in Armenia each year for the last 12 years for no less than three months a year via four or five trips annually–and I missed it!  But, I will be in Armenia in a couple of weeks and we have accomplished a bunch of important things.

Our team in Armenia is working on several smaller projects with funds remaining from our Support Our Heroes project that is worth mentioning today.

One of Nodorik’s new piglets.


Several weeks ago, construction was completed on the barn in the village of Gugark for the family of Nodorik Margaryan. We paid for all the materials, labor and supplied them with three piglets and feed.  We are hopeful this will help them expand their agribusiness and allow them to better care for themselves.

Roof renovations in process.

Up in Saragukh, a village near Novemberyan, we are helping a father/son soldier team with roofing materials to complete the construction of their village home.  These men and their family moved to this village and are living in a rented home until they are able to finish construction.  They are both contract soldiers and are stationed about five kilometers away from their home on the border.

Fitting for a new prosthetic leg.

Late last week, our colleague Gegham met a soldier who is stationed in Artsakh.  About two years ago he had his foot and part of his leg blown off from a landmine.  The prosthetic leg that he was given has continuously given him problems with sores and open wounds.  So, Gegham met him in Yerevan at the master prosthetic maker in town to fit him and we ordered him a new prosthetic.  Hopefully this higher quality leg will fit him better and allow him to get around easier.

Finally, we are supporting cancer treatments for the mother of a soldier that was injured and left partially disabled as a result of the April war.  We have supported two rounds of treatments and we are hopeful that her condition will improve.

We have lots of big projects moving forward in full swing that I will report on from Armenia, but I didn’t want these important, but smaller projects to be overlooked.




Paros Blog

Paros Foundation Statement About Events in Armenia

As Armenians come together today around the world to commemorate the 103rdanniversary of the Armenian Genocide, our thoughts and prayers not only remember the 1.5 million Armenians who perished at the hands of the Ottoman Turkish government, but turn to our compatriots living in this remarkable time in Armenia.

Scores of fearless people, facing uncertain consequences, took to the streets leading a well-organized, peaceful protest aimed at preventing a power-grab by Serzh Sargsyan, who had pledged not to pursue the office of Prime Minister following Armenia’s change to a parliamentary form of government. Calls for acts of peaceful civil disobedience initiated by young people and then joined by tens of thousands of citizens from all walks of life culminated in Sargsyan’s resignation. Throughout these tense days, both citizens and Armenia’s police exercised incredible restraint.  The protestors, police and Sargsyan himself should celebrate the fact that Armenia is maturing and its growing pains were not met with loss of life, but rather a peaceful transition.

In the coming days, what the future holds for our homeland and its citizens is unknown.  On behalf of The Paros Foundation, we join in the spirit of positive change and collaboration to build a bright future for Armenia’s children.  We support our brothers and sisters in Hayastan on their path to long-term nation building over short-term personal gain. We, at Paros remain committed to mobilize Diasporan support for the implementation of valuable projects and the progressive leadership necessary to ensure their long-term success.

By remembering our past, we will build a homeland together that is safe, secure and prosperous, and one that our ancestors would be proud to call “Mer Hayrenik.”

Paros Blog

Last Day!

My last day in Armenia started at my apartment at 7:30 a.m.   I had to pack and clean up.  I always know that it is time to leave Armenia and head back home when I run out of my stash of American coffee…

Picked up Gegham at 9:30 a.m. and we dropped off a few things at our storage garage and did a bit of warehouse organization.  We then met Sos at 10:30 a.m. to check out some furniture that another organization is selling and that we might be able to make use of.  We found some great things and now Gegham will just have to negotiate a terrific price–LOL.)

Russian manufactured hay baler for Baghanis.

The bayer is new and will arrive into Armenia within 30 days.

We then headed to Erebuni to meet with the official representative of a Russian farm equipment manufacturer to firm up our purchase of the hay baler for the village of Baghanis.  In case you read Russian, here are the specs..

Next we headed to the Yerevan neighborhood of Avan to look at stainless steel dishwashing sinks for the kitchen at Rind.  We found a perfect double sink set up that Gegham will purchase after his next visit to Rind to confirm the sink size.

Our next stops were at RV Comfort and Aquatech to check out material and pump options for a couple of other projects.  After these stops, we were able to grab a bite before our meeting at 3 p.m. with both the Armenia and International Red Cross.  Sevan joined us at the headquarters of the International Red Cross in Armenia to discuss the kindergarten construction in the village of Baghanis.  The Red Cross has agreed to work on this project with us jointly, so we wanted to meet and agree on a timeline for the launch of construction.

Afterwards, Sos, Gegham, Sevan and I met for a bit to firm up our steps forward.  As usual, we had a whirlwind of a couple of weeks together and wanted to sum up the decisions we reached and future activities.  I dropped off my car rental, had a manti at Zatar Pizza and crashed for a couple of hours before Gegham picked me up at 3 a.m. for my airport departure.

Paros Blog

Off to Gyumri

Sos, Gegham and I departed for a two day trip to Gyumri yesterday.

People lined up for free bread for Yerevan’s City Market’s baking facility in Malatya.

On the way out of town, we drove past a location  in Malatya that Yerevan City Market uses to bake lavash and distribute it free to anyone who lines up for it.  The oligarch that owns Yerevan City Markets is generally not well regarded, but is clearly trying to help people in need at some level (and trying to improve his image.)

On our way, we tried to visit the “Armenak & Ann Tadeossian’s” Children Rehabilitation in the Aragatsotn Region of Armenia, but the Center is closed on Monday (go figure.) The entire clinic and rehab center was built in 2014 and we have collected some funds to help with the children’s rehab related costs.  We will have to connect with them next trip!

First of our “To-Dos” in Gyumri was to meet with and tell two families who are living in Domiks, that they were selected to receive new apartments through our Purchase a Home project.  Initial meetings had taken place with these families about two months ago, and now, with cash in hand thanks to the Ekmekjian Family from Los Angeles, we are ready to purchase both families a new apartment and oversee the tear down of their old domiks, and thus help clear Gyumri of these eyesores. We stopped at the Shirak Center, NGO and picked up our friend Vahan Tumasyan to take us to the families we had previously screened.  Unfortunately, all of these domik neighborhoods in Gyumri look kind of the same and having Vahan as a friend and partner definitely helps move along the interaction with these families.  Plus we enlist Vahan’s services to help organize the crew to tear down the domik after the family has moved out.

Neli and I in her family’s domik.

Rima’s little girl.

Thanks to the generosity of a bunch of different donors, this is the 8th and 9th family we have been able to visit and tell that we are ready to move them into a new apartment.  It is a humbling experience and the families are almost always in shock when they hear the news.  Both Neli & Artyom (and their three kids) and Ashot & Rima (and their three kids), were quite excited with the news.

After telling both families the good news, we departed for a quick visit to The Terchoonian Home.  A couple of years ago, we renovated the third floor of this orphanage/school with support from our good friend Herman Hintiryan and the Terchoonian Home Foundation in Michigan, and the Arslanian family from New Jersey.  Terchoonian currently has 23 children living at the facility full time, about another 22 or

The solar panel array at The Terchoonian Home.

so that live their during the week and go home on weekends, and another 40 or so that come there each day and attend school and go home in the evenings. Overall things seemed ok and I was pretty impressed with a new solar array that has been installed to help subsidize the electric costs of operating the facility.  Sonia, the director of Terchoonian, indicated that it has saved them as much as $300 per month in electric costs.

Next we began to cruise the Mush 2 neighborhood in Gyumri to try and find two apartments to purchase for our families.  Sos had secured a couple of phone numbers and we set up appointments to view them.  Most people advertise their apartments for sale by simply putting a small sign on a piece of paper in the apartment’s window. Other’s list the apartment for sale on, Armenia’s version of a Craigslist type service.  We successfully were able to view two apartments that might work.

Students at Debi Arach competing to solve the math problems using our new SMART projectors.

Before calling it a night and heading to our hotel, we also made a short visit to Debi Arach to arrange a few facility upgrades.  It was very cool to see our new SMART projectors being used to help augment the teaching methods in the math class.

We ended the day at the Gyumri Hotel.  Our plan was to walk to dinner and have a drink from one of our many bottles of vodka from our Tavush trip.  We figured we would ask if it was ok to drink our own and worse case just buy a bottle from the restaurant and drink ours….well, Gayane the waitress was NOT having it and totally put us in our place!

Next morning we had a quick breakfast and headed back to Mush 2 and the surrounding neighborhoods to try and secure some more potential apartments for sale.  We got a couple of more leads and was able to lock up the first apartment.  We got to Debi Arach and I was able to meet with Aida and Sarah and discuss our next fundraising approach while Sos and Gegham took care of a few odds and ends at the center.  We barked out some orders and took off to Yerevan (LOL).  On the way, we visited one of our work crews at the school in Hatsik to check up again on their progress.  Things are coming along nicely!  As a bonus, I was given some honey from our one of our worker’s home!  Yummy!

Made it back to Yerevan at a decent hour, so instead of calling it a day, we went searching for pipes and pumps for the water project in NKA to try and solidify the budget for this project.  We were able to find a vendor that called the water pipe manufacturer in Armenia and got us a firm price on the kind of pipe we need.  In addition, he seems to carry some high quality fittings that we will ultimately need when running a new 2,000 meter water pipe.  After this stop we called it a day and I dropped the guys off and headed home.

Paros Blog

Hair, nails and a bunch of other stuff.

Apparently stickers are used for manicures too!

Meri and her team joined Gegham and I today to purchase all of the equipment and supplies to start her classes on March 20th in Koghb.  This consisted of Gegham and I standing around like fish out of water, while Meri and her two colleagues bought a ton of stuff for make up, hair, facials and manicure classes.  We spent a little over one million drams and the only item I could identify with was a hair brush!  We still need about $1,500 to complete this project, but it is off and running.

Gegham and Meri’s team at the checkout with our stuff.

Meri and her team will be training 20 women from nine villages along the border in Tavush so they can work and help support their families.

All packed up and ready to head back to Tavush!

Paros Blog

Four Days in Tavush (Story of Rain, Dense Fog and 6 Liters of Alcohol.)

Fog, rain and more fog.

Our first stop was at the village school in Chinari.  A wealthy Russian Armenian financed the complete renovation of the school and I wanted to check it out.  I would give the renovation a solid C+.  Unfortunately, they used poor quality materials and made some bad decisions like not installing bathrooms inside of the school.  But, the principal and village mayor are still very appreciative.  Next stop was the village medical outpost.  The building needs to be gutted and rebuilt, but budget cuts have left the village with only a part-time nurse.  Most villagers have to go to the neighboring village for regular medical visits.  Doesn’t really make much sense to do any renovation work on the building until the government can guarantee a Doc or at least  full-time nurse’s salary.  Our key mission in Chinari was to hold a town hall style meeting with villages to present our agribusiness project and distribute the applications.

32 families joined us to learn more about the agribusiness project in Chinari.

I was floored in that more than 30 people showed up to hear about our project and apply.  Gegham and Samvel the mayor led what we might be able to describe as a meeting.  Villages have a very interesting trait of not listening to one another, but rather all talking at the same time.  Then yelling at one another.  Then dredging up old memories, etc. etc.  Sos and I joined in too and tried to help Gegham out as much as possible during Chinari-fest 2018.  On a serious note, the high turn out and the depth of the villagers’ questions in Chinari confirmed the fact that these folks need help.

Following a long and exhausting Q & A session, we high-tailed it out of dodge and headed to Nerkin Karmir Aghpyur (NKA) to see the progress on the school, meet with the new mayor and visit some of our agribusiness and home repair families.  Not to leave empty handed, Samvel the mayor gave us three bottles of home made wine and vodka!

Our plan was to do a quick visit to the school, then meet with the new mayor and visit as many of the new families we are trying to vet into our agribusiness and home repair program as possible.  Uh, so plan….meet vodka.  We were met at the school with stern directions from Nara, the principal, “we are not ready for you, go back out and come in again!”  The staff and students received us with a traditional bread and salt welcome. Students working with their dance teacher prepared two dances for us.  It was all pretty terrific.  We inspected all the work that the Atamian family from New York has sponsored.  Work is almost complete.  The wet weather has prevented the crew from finishing up the paint and flooring in the auditorium, but everything looks pretty amazing.  We went into the cafeteria and were shocked to see a full meal waiting for us.  Nara organized a full khorovadz meal for us and all the teachers.  Our plan for the rest of the day pretty much was smothered in several shots of vodka.

A quick selfie with the our team and the staff at the NKA school.

The renovated computer classroom at the NKA school.

We managed to break away and meet with Levon, NKA’s newly appointed leader.  He is a humble younger man that seems to want to do some good work for the village.  We managed to squeeze in a visit or two to a couple of families before dark.  We ended the day at our hotel in the city of Bert pretty exhausted.

Sos checking out the space where a bathroom will be constructed for one of our families in NKA.

Happy faces of the children at the kindergarten in Chinari.

Next morning, we headed back to Chinari to collect the applications, prioritize them and begin visiting the families.  First we visited the village’s kindergarten where we have plans to renovate the two story building.  We learned from Samvel that there was a terrible fire in the village two months ago that destroyed the village’s library.  There is now a remote chance that a new building would be built that would house both the new library and kindergarten.  So, our plan is on hold for about a month while this gets worked out.

Only these books were salvaged after the fire at the library in Chinari.

Reviewing the applications with mayor Samvel in Chinari.

We got to the mayor’s office and he had already received 33 applications.  We went through and prioritized them and began the home visitations and vetting

One of our potential agribusiness family’s children in Chinari.

process.  Our team marched through lots of fog, mud and quite frankly poop as we vetted the families.  We were ready to depart for Aygepar and NKA, when our plan, once again, was high-jacked by Samvel and some home made vodka.  Another meal complete with toasts and good conversation and we departed for Aygepar (with four more bottles of home made wine!)

A really happy colorful mural greets everyone at the door in the Aygepar kindergarten!

In Aygepar, we stopped off at the kindergarten we renovated to inspect the final product.  Everything looked great.  We quickly discussed plans to complete the outside space including adding some more pavers, flowers, etc.  We also saw the three new play structures that the Red Cross had installed in the yard.  I was hoping that they would have done some of the landscaping too, but no such luck.  Our team will tackle the remaining work outside as soon as it drys out a bit.  We also visited the building that we want to establish the mushroom farm in for 10 families in Aygepar.  I hope to meet with the mushroom guy in Yerevan before I depart for the US.

In NKA, we continued our family visits until dark.  Our last family was particularly heartbreaking.  The home caught fire and burnt as a result of Azeri shelling in the 90s.  The family did the best they could rebuilding it.  It is basically a disaster.

Vartoosh A. in her home that needs a considerable amount of work.

We are going to have to quickly raise the $2,000 we need to be able to include this family’s home in the program asap.  We were ready to head back to our hotel and I was hoping that we would be done early enough to get some work done, but again vodka entered into the equation.  Levon took us to his home for dinner.  The evening’s menu included wild rabbit from a recent hunting trip, and of course…vodka.  No work tonight…

We wrapped up our time in NKA visiting the last of the families and discussing and surveying a water pipeline issue that we might be able to help with.  Currently 110 households in NKA only get water for about 20 minutes every other day.  Meanwhile there is a reservoir at the edge of the village whose excess water flows to the Azeri’s.  If we can help get water to the villagers for a relatively modest investment, it would be pretty awesome.

Off to Zorakan to review our work on the school’s heating system.  More fog, no vodka!  On the way back, we visited Meri in Koghb to plan the start of our Empowerment for Women 2 project.  Good pakhlava!  Again, no vodka.  Next stop, Baghanis to work with mayor Narek on our kindergarten plans and family agribusinesses.  Visited several families and headed to our hotel just outside of Ijevan.  Dinner and (you guessed it-vodka!)

All work and no play makes for a sad Paros team!

One more visit to Baghanis to complete our family visits and discuss the purchase of a tractor and bailer for Baghanis with Narek.  It was difficult to leave because Narek wanted to take me to visit Tbilisi, which is only about an hour away.  We departed Baghanis and made a quick stop in Saragyugh to visit the home of a soldier.  Then, back to Yerevan.  We ended our four day trip at Ideal to purchase heating pipes for Zorakan.  All in all a very productive four days.



Paros Blog

Sunday is not necessarily a day of rest!

Sundays may be a day of rest for some, but NOT for us!  I started my day preparing for our trip to Tavush tomorrow. Then met friends Andrea and Diron, and the incredible GOALS staff for lunch and a planning session for our GOALs project, including having our SERVICE Armenia group join and help out at one of their summer soccer camps.

Lunch and strategic planning session with the GOALs Team.









Then my colleague, Gegham and I visited the kindergarten in the village of Nor Geghi.  We are just about complete with the renovation of the hallway, stairwell and kindergarten’s auditorium.  Our construction crew was working on putting down the second coat of sealant on the parquet flooring.  I made them stop for a quick photo!

The Nor Geghi Auditorium with its final coat of floor sealant.

Gegham and our local work crew on the stage in the Nor Geghi kindergarten auditorium.