SERVICE Armenia 2019 is filling up quickly! Only eight spaces remain in this tour, serve and play program aimed at young people 17 to 22 years of age and applications are available on The Paros Foundation website (www.parosfoundation.org). This year’s program will feature work sites in and around Yerevan, Gyumri and Zorakan. Service work will include classroom renovations, work with orphanages and children centers, and the distribution of humanitarian supplies including the Groceries for Gyumri project (see article below). Tours will be led to major sites throughout Armenia and Artsakh and the group will live and be based from Yerevan. For more information and to reserve your space, contact Peter Abajian via email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (310) 400-9061.
GROCERIES FOR GYUMRI
The story of one participant’s effort to make a difference
My name is Dustin Hochmuth and I launched Groceries for Gyumri as a project to raise money to assemble and distribute one hundred food packs to poor families in Gyumri, Armenia. I came up with the idea when, in 2017 as part of The Paros Foundation’s SERVICE Armenia 2017 program, Peter Abajian and Narine Panosian took me and a few other participants to see the living conditions of some of the residents of Gyumri. The apartment complex we were shown was in total deplorable condition and was literally falling apart, and the worst part was that ten families still live there. Later on that night at dinner, I asked Peter, “Is there anything more we can do to help these people?” SERVICE Armenia coordinator, Stephanie Nersesyan, was planning on implementing a project, so together we ended up delivering ten packs of non perishable items such as soap, pasta, and toilet paper to several families in the city. During the distribution, I met and spoke to the people living in these terrible conditions and got the opportunity to hear the families’ stories. After going on this excursion, it inspired me to come back to Armenia in 2018 and do a food drive project of my own on a larger scale.
Groceries for Gyumri was a joint idea with my mother Jeanne Papazian, who came up with the idea for the concept and the logo. After sending many emails to friends and family, we were able to raise $3,000, which was enough to fund 100 food packs. As summer rolled around, I joined the other participants for the SERVICE Armenia 2018 trip. The group went to buy all of the goods for the hundred packs from a local supermarket in person and then put them all together at the group’s house in Yerevan. Then, the group finally headed to Gyumri to do the distribution. It was a very long day consisting of delivering the packs and meeting the families and hearing each story, which felt more tragic than the last. However, also with each family the group could truly see the impact they were having on these people by the looks on their faces and their gratitude just to get some simple supplies like cooking oil, beans or bread. I am confident that this reaction from the beneficiaries registered on a very deep level with members of our group, as it demonstrated just how fortunate we are in the U.S., but also reminded us that since we are so fortunate, it is important to help out others in need and that we cannot forget that these people are our brothers and sisters.
Dustin Hochmuth will be starting the University of Southern California in the fall. He has visited and worked in Armenia for the last two years, and will be returning this summer as well to lead his Groceries for Gyumri project once again. His collective efforts have help clothe and feed hundreds of families living in Gyumri’s domik communities. To support Dustin’s Groceries for Gyumri project please visit www.parosfoundation.org