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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.

Contacts

2217 5th Street

Berkeley CA 94710

info@parosfoundation.org

(310) 400 9061

Category: Press Releases

Press Releases

SERVICE Armenia is back!

Since 2013, The Paros Foundation’s SERVICE Armenia program has taken young people to Armenia for a service and tour program. While Covid-19 forced the cancellation of last summer’s program, SERVICE Armenia 2021 is taking place with three planned trip dates.

SERVICE Armenia 2021 (June 30 to July 18, 2021) Open to participants ages 17 to 23.

SERVICE Armenia Young Professionals Summer (July 16 to August 1) Open to participants ages 24 to 45.

SERVICE Armenia Young Professionals Fall (October 15 to 31) Open to participants ages 24 to 45.

“Each year SERVICE Armenia connects young people from throughout the United States to one another and to the homeland in a meaningful and lasting way,” said Peter Abajian, Executive Director of The Paros Foundation. “Because of strong interest from young professionals to travel to Armenia too, we added these SERVICE Armenia Young Professional trip dates, and are looking forward to extending this awesome experience to their age group as well.”

In 2019, the SERVICE Armenia group worked on projects including the Talin Music School in the town of Talin, the school in the village of Zorakan, the Debi Arach Children’s Center in Gyumri and at the Nor Hachn Museum in the village of Nor Hachn. In addition to these projects, the group implemented orphan excursions for children from the Yerevan Children’s Home and the Kharpert Home for Special Children. SERVICE Armenia participants assembled food packets and distributed them to 50 families in need.

Applications are now available on The Paros Foundation’s website for SERVICE Armenia 2021 at www.parosfoundation.org. The program includes tours to historic, religious and cultural sites in Armenia, English speaking staff and guides, safe and well-located accommodations and transportation combined with interesting cultural and educational activities that will ensure all will have an engaging and memorable experience. The program is open to both Armenians and non-Armenians wishing to participate in this once in a lifetime opportunity. Knowledge of the Armenian language is not required. Join us and create a lifetime of great memories and friends. The deadline to submit the completed application is May 15. Applicants are encouraged to apply early. Contact Peter Abajian at (310) 400-9061 for more information.

The deadline to submit the completed application is May 15. Applicants are encouraged to apply early. Contact Peter Abajian at (310) 400-9061 for more information.


June 30th – July 18th, 2021
This trip will be two weeks with the same programming as past
years. Participants aged 17-23 will serve, tour, and play in Armenia.

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Summer: July 16th – August 1st, 2021
Fall: October 15th – October 31st, 2021
This new trip is created for young professionals who want to tour Armenia while participating in service work with other young adults. We can work with participants to engage in Armenia within their professional areas as well. For example, a teacher can spend a day at an Armenian school volunteering. Participant fees are $2,100 per person for single occupancy or $1,650 per person for double occupancy (including a $300 charitable contribution towards defraying service project costs), not including airfare.

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Covid 19 Protocol
Applicants are strongly encouraged to participate only if they have been vaccinated against Covid-19. The healthcare system in Armenia is overwhelmed and therapeutic treatments may not be available if you contract Covid 19. If you become ill with Covid 19, please note you will be quarantined at your own expense and will not be able to participate in the SERVICE Armenia program, and your fees will not be reimbursed. A clear PCR test result will be required upon arrival at the airport in Armenia (if you have already not taken one within 72 hours of your departure.)

Press Releases

Border Communities Benefit from Expanded, Renovated Kindergartens

Tavush, Armenia–Children in the Tavush border communities of Achajur and Varagavan now benefit from newly renovated and expanded kindergartens. These important projects were implemented through The Paros Foundation’s Prosperity on the Border initiative over the course of the last 18 months.

In the village of Achajur, an overcrowded kindergarten meant that almost 100 children that were of kindergarten age were unable to attend and receive the benefits of early education. To address this need, The Paros Foundation agreed to completely reconfigure and reconstruct the second floor of the large building that houses the kindergarten. A new dining room and three large classrooms to accommodate the addition of these new children we successfully added. The rebuild included a more powerful heating system for the entire kindergarten, new bathrooms, new windows, and work to the exterior of the building. Work on the kindergarten at Achajur was made possible through the generous support of benefactors Ara and Valarie Cherchian.

In the village of Varagavan, only one small portion of the building that housed the village kindergarten was able to be used for a partial day program for 19 children in the village. A total of more than 40 children are of kindergarten and preschool age, but none of the children in this community were able to fully benefit from a full day early education program. This large, two story building needed a complete rebuild including roof, water, electrical, sewer and gas systems. New windows, doors, stairs, flooring and kitchens and bathrooms were installed as part of The Paros Foundation’s Prosperity on the Border initiative. Work on the kindergarten at Varagavan was made possible through donations received primarily from the “Cocktails on the Terrace” fundraiser generously sponsored by Gregory and Kelley Badishkanian at their home. To view a video of the Varagavan Kindergarten, please visit www.parosfoundation.org and search for Varagavan Kindergarten.

Focus on Children Now partnered on both of these kindergarten projects to provide high quality playgrounds and furniture for the children.

“The effects of the July attacks, Covid 19 and the Artsakh War have weighed heavily on the children in these communities,” said Peter Abajian, Executive Director of The Paros Foundation. “Returning to beautifully renovated, safe and inviting kindergartens will dramatically improve these communities return to in-person education and significantly benefit these important villages and their residents in the long-run.”

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Press Releases

25th Family Receives A New Home In Gyumri!

The Paros Foundation launched its “Purchase a Home” project in 2012 to address the dire need to move more than 4,000 families who were living in horrible conditions. These families lived in “domiks”: condemned buildings, wagons or old shipping containers. Nine years later, more than 2,000 families are still living in these deplorable conditions.

Despite the global pandemic and the devastating war in Artsakh, on December 4, 2020, The Paros Foundation reached a major milestone with the move of its 25th family from a “domik” into a permanent home of their own.

“With the help of our generous supporters, we are proud to announce that we have moved our 25th family into a modern, clean and safe apartment,” said Peter Abajian, Executive Director of The Paros Foundation. “Between this project and our Debi Arach Children’s Center, we have helped eliminate generational poverty in Gyumri – a priority.”

We are proud to introduce the recipient of this new home, Zaruhi Minasyan and her two sons, who have lived in a domik for the last 15 years. Zaruhi’s husband left for Russia three years ago and never returned, leaving her to raise their sons alone. With the support from her family and social welfare payments, she makes ends meet. Our friends at the Shirak Center NGO in Gyumri worked with us to identify the family. Once the Minasyan family was selected, our team found them a suitable apartment and purchased it. As part of this project’s agreement with the family, this apartment cannot be sold or rented, and the family must live there for at least ten years. In addition, once the family has been moved into their new place, their old domik will be disassembled. To prevent others from occupying this domik, Shirak Center NGO, with support from The Paros Foundation, tore down the domik and used the scrap materials to support other families living in poverty in Gyumri.

This 25th “Purchase a Home” was made possible with the support and sponsorship of the Employees of Western Drug and the Youredjian Family.

Featured PostsPress Releases

Resettlement Program Launched for Artsakh Displaced Families

Berkeley, CA—The Paros Foundation has launched a resettlement program as part of its Emergency Relief, Resettlement and Reconstruction-Artsakh Project to help those families that have fled Artsakh and will not be able, or are unwilling to return.

“This year we lost almost 3,000 people to the Corona virus and at least another 3,000 people to the war. If we don’t act quickly to help resettle these refugee families from Artsakh, we stand to lose another 50 or 60,000 to emigration,” said Peter Abajian, Executive Director of The Paros Foundation.

Thousands of families were forced to abandon their homes in Artsakh and now face an uncertain future.

The Paros Foundation’s Resettlement Program will take a comprehensive approach to refugee resettlement including thoroughly screening families, securing them permanent homes in Armenia (including renovation and furnishings), and engaging the families in appropriate economic activities to help them provide for themselves. The first priority for families to resettle will be those from rural Artsakh, and in particular, multi-generational families whose lives were uprooted from territories now under Azeri control. The Armenian and Artsakh governments are establishing noble and aggressive plans for repatriation of families to Artsakh, however, it is clear that many large families will be unable or unwilling to return to their homes and thus will consider leaving Armenia.

“The Paros Foundation is attempting to raise $200,000 in funds that will be matched with another $200,000 if we meet this goal,” said Abajian. “Many families have lost everything because of the war and our goal is to quickly help resettle as many of them as possible to avoid losing them to another country for work or a place to live.”

To recommend families for consideration for resettlement or to help resettle a family, please contact The Paros Foundation via email info@parosfoundation.org.

Press Releases

The Importance of Tavush: The Paros Foundation Rebuilds Border Villages in Armenia

by Christopher Atamian

Tavush is not in Artsakh!
When Azerbaijan started bombing villages along the Tavush border in mid-July, many people in the Armenian diaspora and elsewhere mistakenly assumed that they were shelling a part of Artsakh. And looking out at any of the verdant valleys in Tavush, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you were actually in Switzerland or some lost corner of paradise. But Tavush is in fact part and parcel of the Republic of Armenia proper, making Azerbaijan’s actions all the more provocative as they shattered any illusion that Armenia is not in danger of getting embroiled in an all-out war again. Located in the country’s northeastern edge and bordered by Georgia to the North and Azerbaijan to the East, Tavush is an ancient Armenian province. Its scenic capital of Ijevan–once an important rest stop on international trade routes–sits at the foothills of the Gugark Mountains, on the shores of the Aghstev River. The region measures just 2,704 km² (about one-fourth the size of Rhode Island) and on a good day has a population of just over 125,000 people.

Shelling from the other side of the border is nothing new to the farmers and other villagers who live in the region, some of whose families have been tilling the land from time immemorial. Two of its more isolated cities for example, Berd and Noyemberyan, regularly receive volleys of sniper shots from Azeri positions. As a result of this and other factors village men often leave to find work in Russia—predictably, many never return. Perhaps in desperation or out of a sense of duty, some have also signed up as contract soldiers and can be found at their military posts guarding the border—and this, for about $300 a month. This puts additional stress on the village women, who must tend to all domestic duties alone, from tilling gardens to caring for their animals, children and extended families. As a result of these precarious situations, Armenians in the region are more likely to have smaller families, which poses a demographic threat and becomes a national security issue.

Paros Foundation Implements Key Programs in Tavush
Founded in 2006 by Roger Strauch in part to address these ongoing concerns, the Paros Foundation understood from the start the strategic importance of these border positions and of helping Tavush region in general. Since 2011 they have been working to strengthen them, rebuilding houses that have been shelled and providing jobs for Armenians on the front line through its many programs. The foundation has developed a strategic and somewhat niche approach to help remedy these problems: “We implement mid-sized infrastructure improvement projects in order to raise awareness and improve conditions for these residents and ultimately help to secure the border,” explains Executive Director Peter Abajian.

Altogether from 2013 to 2020, Paros has spent almost $1.1 million in Tavush on 65 different projects. Most remarkably the foundation has no administrative costs whatsoever, “The Strauch Kulhanjian family underwrites 100% of our administrative expenses, which allows donors to allocate their contributions directly to projects,” said Abajian. In the border village of Nerkin Karmir Aghbyur, with support from Jean-Marie Atamian and his family, Paros has made major improvements to the water system, local school, kindergarten and medical center. Apart from improving infrastructure, the foundation is currently in the process of implementing an economic development project, establishing a fruit orchard with over 1,000 trees. All of these undertakings have helped to stabilize the community and led to a doubling of the annual birth rate from 2013 to today. As is evident to anyone who visits the region, border villages have been especially hard hit economically since hostilities erupted over a two decades ago between Armenia and Azerbaijan, in part because some 70% of the land in any particular village lies too close to the border to be farmed or to graze animals without the risk of being shot and killed.

Donate to Paros and Help Make Armenia Safe
As Abajian also points out, there are a wealth of current and planned programs available for interested donors. “Our work in Tavush along the border will be continuing for the foreseeable future with two major projects in Aygepar including the reconstruction of a large apartment building and the creation of an agriculture incubator facility,” said Abajian. Some are larger in scale than others, but all are affordable for anyone interested, as donations of any size can be made in true crowdfunding fashion. One particularly interesting program “Recycling on the Border” seeks to partner with the Innovative Solutions for Sustainable Development of Communities NGO (“ISSD”) in order to implement recycling education at schools in ten villages. The children will be provided with colored bins and will collect trash that is then sent to proper recycling facilities. This gives both children and their families a stronger stake in their communities—teaching them about recycling but also to care about their environment and to be happier within it. The point of Paros Foundation programs isn’t simply to patch up existing problems but to find long-term solutions for building a happy and prosperous Armenia.

A Crucial Moment In History: States don’t Have Friends, only Interests.
With the almost unbelievable news that Turkey’s Volkan Bektir is taking over the Presidency of the landmark 75th General Assembly of the United Nations, and even more remarkable threats coming from Azerbaijan’s President Aliyev to bombard Medzamor, Armenia’s nuclear plant, the young Third Republic faces an existential crisis. Fighting off two enemies, one on each side of its border, will be no easy task. And while events such as the recent destruction of Beirut Port and the COVID-19 pandemic have grabbed everyone’s attention and resources of late, a global leadership vacuum now exists that presents an existential threat for Armenia. Just as no Western power came to Armenia’s defense in 1915, none will do so now. It’s up to the diaspora to support organizations like Paros that understand how to help defend and strengthen Armenia through crucial infrastructure and life-saving projects. As Charentz famously wrote: “Oh Armenian people, your only salvation lies in the power of your unity.”

You can find out more about the Paros Foundation and its many projects at www.parosfoundation.org

Christopher Atamian is an Armenian-Italian writer, translator and filmmaker living in New York City. You can obtain a copy of his latest book, A Poet in Washington Heights, which was awarded the 2017018 Tololyan Literary Award and nominated for a National Book Award, at https://www.amazon.com/Washington-Heights-Christopher-Peter-Atamian/dp/197648393X

Press Releases

DEBI ARACH IS BACK!

Gyumri, Armenia–The Debi Arach Children’s Center successfully and safely re-opened its doors on August 17, 2020 to eager students. Several changes and new policies have been set in place for the safety of the kids and staff. Along with the emphasis on safety, the staff has been working hard to prepare students for the start of school schedule for September 15, 2020.

“Our goal in restarting the Debi Arach Children’s Center prior to the start of the school year is to help the children catch up for the difficulties they faced with online learning at the end of the last school year,” said Peter Abajian.

Throughout the Pandemic Debi Arach remained committed to providing consistent meals, psychological support, and structured in-home learning to the youth. Although the facility was closed We have committed to continue paying our staff during the closure.

  • We are working closely with our on-staff psychologist, who is checking in with the kids each week to help them navigate their lives during this challenging time.
  • We want to make sure the students still receive consistent, adequate nutrition so we are providing food packages for all families of Debi Arach with guidelines on safety protocols for receiving and cleaning the items.

The goal is to expand the center’s programming to continue to be able to serve all of our center’s children in a safe and responsible manner including changing the manner in which meals are served and constructing temporary outdoor classrooms by taking advantage of the warm weather. Furthermore, Debi Arach will be holding both morning and afternoon sessions to accommodate children who will now be attending schools in split sessions to promote social distancing in schools.

Everyone at Debi Arach is very excited to be able to continue providing children of Gyumri with the proper supplementary educational, thorough psychological and necessary humanitarian aids they need.

To date, the center has already had several important successes. At least nine children have been taken out of boarding schools, attend our center and now live back at home with their families. Many of the children who were receiving poor grades in school are now achieving top scores. The children have become socially well-adjusted and much healthier than before with the continued consumption of multi-vitamins and a daily well-balanced meal. Staff trainings have begun with an academic counsel of professionals from the United States and Armenia to ensure that the children are receiving the best care, treatment, and methods for their development.

Press Releases

REBUILDING BEGINS IN COMMUNITIES ATTACKED BY AZERBAIJAN

Paros Foundation Increases its Emergency Reconstruction Fund to $200,000

Tavush Armenia–Azerbaijan launched a vicious attack on Armenia on July 12, in violation of the ceasefire agreement.  Over the next two days, Azerbaijan launched artillery of various calibers at the Armenian civilian populations of several communities within Berd Consolidated Communities of Armenia’s Tavush Region.  The Armenian Armed Forces not only successfully defended these areas, but captured a very important military post and has destroyed tens of millions of dollars worth of Azeri artillery and drones.

Paros Foundation work crew beginning the reconstruction of the kindergarten in Aygepar.

These military victories, however, have come with a huge price tag.  Five of our valiant soldiers were killed and others along with a dozen villagers have been wounded.  In addition, families in these villages have experienced material losses on their homes and property.   Several days ago, The Paros Foundation team joined Tavush Governor Hayk Chobanyan, Berd Consolidated Communities head Harutyun Manucharyan, representatives of the Prime Minister’s office, and local village representatives to visit the Nerkin Karmir Aghbyur, Aygepar and Chinari communities to assess the damage and to strategize and coordinate the next steps forward. Due to the extent of the damage and needs of the border villages, we are increasing our fund goal to $200,000, and are humbled to report contributions and pledges to date in excess of $120,000. The Paros Foundation’s Emergency Reconstruction Fund will work to not only make repairs to these damaged homes, but, will make substantial improvements on them.  In addition, funds will be used to make other substantial infrastructure improvements within the communities.

Paros Foundation Staff join Tavush Governor Hayk Chobanyan, Berd Consolidated Communities head Harutyun Manucharyan, representatives of the Prime Minister’s office, and local village representatives to visit the Nerkin Karmir Aghbyur, Aygepar and Chinari communities to assess the damage.

Through the generous support received from donors around the world thus far, our team has already begun planning the reconstruction of damaged areas, while our local construction crews look forward to beginning the job of rebuilding their communities. Work on rebuilding the Aygepar Kindergarten has already begun.  Rebuilding of the houses will begin early next week in order to complete work prior to winter. Let’s work together to meet our new goal to rebuild the border region. To contribute, please visit /project/emergency-reconstruction-fund/

The Paros Foundation was launched in 2006 and has implemented more than $7.9 million worth of projects in Armenia through its unique model of philanthropy and community partnership. These projects are located throughout the country-with the majority of work focused in Gyumri and in the Tavush Region, along the border with Azerbaijan. Thanks to the generous support of Paros Founder and Chairman, Roger Strauch, all administrative expenses are underwritten, allowing 100% of donor contributions to be allocated in their entirety to the projects.

Press Releases

Paros Foundation Launches $100,000 Emergency Reconstruction Rund

Aygepar Kindergarten, Armenia – Recently renovated by Paros Foundation in 2018

In immediate response to the renewed Azeri attacks on civilian populations in the Berd Consolidated Communities of Armenia’s Tavush Region, The Paros Foundation announces the launch of its Emergency Reconstruction Fund. Funds raised will be immediately deployed to repair the most severely damaged homes and other infrastructure shelled in this recent Azeri attack.

Aygepar, Armenia – Photos via Hetq

Aygepar, Armenia – Photos via Hetq

“Azerbaijan has once again targeted the civilian population in villages along the Armenian border. Many homes in Nerkin Karmir Aghbyur, Aygepar and Chinari received varying degrees of damage, including the Aygepar Kindergarten that was reconstructed by Paros in 2018,” said Peter Abajian, Executive Director of The Paros Foundation. “Our goal is to quickly deploy our work crews in the area to not only repair the damage, but make improvements to these families’ homes.”

Aygepar, Armenia – Photos via Hetq

On July 12, during the midst of the global pandemic surrounding Covid-19, Azerbaijan renewed its attack on Armenia in violation of the ceasefire agreement. Over the next two days, Azerbaijan launched artillery of various calibers at the Armenian civilian populations of several communities within Berd Consolidated Communities of Armenia’s Tavush Region. Families in these villages have experienced material losses on their homes and property. Thankfully, villagers remain safe and there has been no civilian loss of life during this period. While the Armenian government has already visited many to assist, The Paros Foundation’s Emergency Reconstruction Fund will work to not only make repairs to these damaged homes, but will make substantial improvements for them.

Azeri Protests – Photos via Civilnet

Four Armenian soldiers were killed during the fighting and several have been wounded including one in critical condition. The Armenian army has shot down 10 Azeri combat drones, including a Elbit Hermes 900 UAV with an estimated $30 million price tag. Moreover, two strategic Azeri military posts are now under Armenian control. While the military losses on the Azeri side are reported to be substantial including the death of an Azeri general, Azeri protests in several cities around the world are calling for war with Armenia.

Tavush, Armenia – Photo via Hetq

Press Releases

Four-Part Partnership Leads to Expansion of Kindergarten in Noyemberyan

Berkeley, CA—Trust and a strong partnership can help accomplish many positive things.  This was demonstrated when World Vision, Focus on Children Now, The Noyemberyan Municipality and The Paros Foundation joined forces to address a shortage of kindergarten space at the Noyemberyan Kindergarten #2.  Noyemberyan is a border city located in the northern portion of Armenia’s Tavush Region.  The results of this partnership included the complete reconstruction of a third building on campus, which will now accommodate more than 50 additional children in two newly expanded groups.

The Paros Foundation was approached last year by the Noyemberyan Municipality with a request to help fund the reconstruction of the third building at Kindergarten #2.  World Vision had already committed to provide support for the construction materials. Focus on Children Now had agreed to provide needed furniture for the children.  What was needed was funding for labor for the construction work.  The Paros Foundation agreed to accept the responsibility of overseeing and implementing the building’s reconstruction.  The Noyemberyan Municipality provided funding and support for demolition, sewer connections and one half of the heating system related expenses.

“The project we implemented at the Noyemberyan Kindergarten #2 is an excellent example of what can be accomplished when organizations partner to support a single cause,” said Peter Abajian, Executive Director of The Paros Foundation. “Each partner organization brought to this project what they do best and together, along with our individual donors, we have made a tremendous positive impact for the children and community in Noyemberyan.”

The Paros Foundation was launched in 2006 and has implemented more than $7.7 million worth of projects in Armenia through its unique model of philanthropy and community partnership. These projects are located throughout the country-with the majority of work focused in Gyumri and in the Tavush Region, along the border with Azerbaijan. Thanks to the generous support of Paros Founder and Chairman, Roger Strauch and the Strauch Kulhanjian Family, all administrative expenses are underwritten, allowing 100% of donor contributions to be allocated in their entirety to the projects. To support the work of The Paros Foundation, please visit www.parosfoundation.org.

Representatives from the Noyemberyan Municipality, Focus on Children Now, The Paros Foundation and World Vision at the ribbon cutting of the rebuilt building at the Noyemberyan Kindergarten #2.

Press Releases

JOIN US FOR OUR THIRD MEDICAL MISSION IN ARMENIA!

Med-Aid ARMENIA – Helping Establish Preventative Care as a Norm

Berkeley, California – This year The Paros Foundation is hosting its third medical mission in Armenia. Med-Aid ARMENIA 2020 will be headed by Kaiser pediatrician, Dr. Krikor Deramerian, whose vision to launch free preventative care for impoverished children in Armenia became a reality. To date, medical professionals and volunteers have examined over 300 children in Gyumri, screening for general health, vision, hearing including providing information on overall wellness. Once issues are identified, The Paros Foundation works with the children and their families to help them address their medical needs

“We found several children with minor health issues during our mission last summer. This early diagnosis will help prevent these minor problems from becoming more serious ones in the future,” said Houry Abajian, Pharm. D.

This summer’s Med Aid ARMENIA 2020 medical mission will take place from June 25 to July 4 in Armenia. This summer, the team will conduct wellness screenings for several hundred children in the city of Gyumri and the village of Jil, who do not have regular access to healthcare. The program will need staff of all expertise and abilities.

As part of the mission, health care professionals and their accompanying families will experience visits to several of Armenia’s historic sites and tours. The trip will begin and end with time spent in Armenia’s vibrant capital, Yerevan.

Contact Peter Abajian, Executive Director of The Paros Foundation, for more information or to reserve your participation. Tel: (310) 400-9061 or Email: peter@parosfoundation.org