LOS ANGELES—This summer, Mer Hooys completed its fourth Smiley Pack program supporting the children and families of Artaskh who fled their homes and economic livelihood in the fall of 2020 to escape the war. Thousands of mostly women and children from Artsakh are now living in Armenia. Many of the fathers have been killed, and others were severely injured and are unable to return to the work they did before the war.
The Smiley Pack program provided packages of clothing, toys and sweets for the children, as well as vocational training for their parents. The program targeted those families most in need. Launched in December 2021, the program brought “smiles” to approximately 200 children in total, and provided hair styling and manicure tools and training for 20 parents to enable them to support their families.
“The Smiley Pack program was developed by Mer Hooys’ professional social services team in Armenia,” said Judge Adrienne Krikorian, Mer Hooys President. “We wanted to help the families who had to leave everything behind in Artsakh, and the girls in our residential program wanted to be involved.”
“Our girls were so happy to be able to help the children from Artsakh, and they enjoyed designing, filling and delivering the packs,” said Dr. Garo Garibian, Mer Hooys Board Member from Philadelphia. “Not only did the Smiley Packs provide some joy and support to these children and their mothers, but our Mer Hooys girls learned the importance and value of helping those less fortunate by ‘paying it forward’.”
In June, Mer Hooys brought a Children’s Day celebration to the Permanent Headquarter of Artsakh in Yerevan. Fifty Artsakhian children enjoyed a bubble show, pizza, music and sweet treats, along with the Smiley Packs lovingly designed and prepared for each child by the girls of Mer Hooys.
The Smiley Pack program was funded through generous donations raised by the Mer Hooys Board from diaspora supporters and the Helpful Hands Foundation in Armenia. In addition, businesses and individuals in Armenia provided in-kind contributions of toys, treats and other items for the Smiley Packs.
“Mer Hooys is grateful for the support from our donors for this important program that brought some desperately needed respite, support and joy for families from Artsakh,” said Dr. Garibian.
Mer Hooys continues to achieve its mission of empowering young girls in Armenia ages 8 ½ to 22 from seriously disadvantaged backgrounds, by providing them with a safe home, comprehensive educational programs, tutoring, psychological counseling, life skills and job training, and, where possible, family counseling and reunification strategies. The program continues to enjoy high regard in Armenia, and is a unique model for providing needed services to unwanted or underprivileged youth, teens and their families.
“Mer Hooys saves and transforms the lives of our girls, helping them to become selfassured young women with promising futures,” said Judge Krikorian. “Community support enables Mer Hooys to continue its vital work saving the lives of vulnerable girls in Armenia and giving them the chance for successful, safe, and happy futures.”
Help Mer Hooys make a difference – consider becoming an annual sponsor of $5,000 or more, or making a generous donation. Please make your donation payable to House of Hope – Mer Hooys, Inc., and mail it to P.O. Box 8507, Calabasas, CA 91372-8507. You may also donate with a credit card or PayPal on our website at www.mer-hooys.org. All donations will be acknowledged and are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law. Visit our website for regular updates and to enjoy our Facebook feed.
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