On June 24 a group of 20 volunteers from the HSBC Bank of Armenia headed to the Fund for Armenian Relief’s Vanadzor Old Age Home (VOAH)*. The visit was part of a well-established partnership between HSBC and FAR to allow the former to serve VOAH’s elderly beneficiaries and treat them with generosity and care.

HSBC staff arrived early in the afternoon and were greeted with open arms by the residents. The warm welcome included a circle dance to folk tunes performed by students of the Komitas State Conservatory.

After the introduction, the volunteers proceeded to clean up the balcony and cafeteria, and to help the residents make their rooms. They also tended to the garden and trimmed the grass.

HSBC staff member Anush Davtyan felt that her meeting with Hoktember papik– or “the wonderful grandpa,” as she calls him – was a breakthrough experience in her life. She recollects, “I was cleaning the sidewalk when one of the elders approached me and asked my name. ‘It’s Anush,’ I replied. He then looked at me with his genuine eyes and beaming smile, and said, ‘I just learned that the other employee’s name was Lusin [Moon]. How have the Sun and the Moon descended from the sky?’ I smiled and we struck up a conversation about his life at VOAH. I remember that he was concerned about the future of our country and I rushed to calm him down, reassuring him that we live in peace and harmony. He was an amazing papik with delicate and polite manners. As we got to know each other better, Hoktember papik gave me a nickname – Sun [anush bala].”

In the afternoon, the volunteers and residents gathered like a traditional Armenian family around the table and embarked on backgammon and chess games. The most ambitious family members even played a thrilling game of dominos.

“I was 100% sure, that I’d win,” shares resident tatik [grandmoter] Rita. “I wanted to try again and again, and I finally won the match, woohoo!” Rita tatik stressed that interactions with visitors always bring a nice break to the residents’ routine and are essential to their wellbeing.

To close the day, the volunteers shared sweets and special gifts for the residents, and then presented a small performance program along with the Conservatory students.

“The warm and sincere fellowship with the HSBC volunteers can’t be replaced with anything else,” said FAR’s Education and Science Programs Director Eduard Karapetyan. He added, “Upon farewell, I saw the incredible gratitude and love radiating from the elderly who embraced the young professionals with tears in their eyes. I realized that we had made their day. It was a special Saturday as our tatiks and papiks could once again feel the power of being loved and cared for.”

* The Vanadzor Old Age Home (VOAH) is a FAR project sponsored by the Kevork and Sirvart Karamanuk Foundation and supported by the Women’s Guild Central Council of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern).