The Spirit of Giving

By: Christine Soussa

As we prepare to enjoy the holiday season, I find myself moved, motivated, and proud of the Armenian International Women’s Association (AIWA) community. As President of the San Francisco (AIWA-SF) affiliate, I am blessed to be able to see how small gestures have big impact.

Sometimes, the holidays can be distracting. Presents, huge sales, to do lists, tasks, etc., can be an energy drain. Often, I hear people say “the holidays came and went, I feel like I didn’t get to enjoy it”.  So it’s good to deliberately set aside some time to slow down, ground yourself and reflect; consider the simple things that can make a big impact. Grow love and be blissfully grateful.

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to take a step back and realized some things as a result.  Thus, I encourage each of you to take a moment, step back (literally, if helpful) to observe the many beautiful blessings that surround you.  Perhaps it is the laughter of children or the emphatic volume of family cheer.

Here is what transpired earlier this week which gave me a tangible kind of excitement. On Monday November 21, 2016 AIWA-SF received many updates about the impact of our important works.

We received letters from our two American University in Armenia (AUA) scholar recipients.  They thanked AIWA-SF for the scholarship and for believing in them. They expressed how our scholarship changed their lives.

In April, AIWA-SF made an urgent appeal for donation to help the women and families who lost loved ones as a result of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Over the past three weeks, the collected funds were delivered to eight families. Each woman expressed heartfelt gratitude. The notion that an organization in America, on the other side of the planet, loved them enough to send warmth, love, and supplies gave them hope that they would persevere during this tragic time. With the funds, one family purchased two cows to provide milk, cheese, and nutrition for their family and neighboring families. Another family used the funds to purchase warm clothes, food, and supplies to help get them through the harsh Armenian winter,  it’s currently 20 degrees.


Finally, some videos arrived from the incredible students at Dsegh village who participate in the AIWA-SF English program. Dsegh village is nestled in the beautiful Lori region in Armenia.  It is the hometown of the famous Hovhannes Tumanyan, with much to see, the village has become a tourist destination. As a result, the students love practicing their English skills with visitors.  We know we are enriching their lives and giving them access to more opportunity. Seeing their “excited to learn” eyes grows our heart.

There it was.  Actions do make impact! “Dream big” isn’t just a slogan.  Perhaps we cannot change the world, but we are already changing their world, and maybe that’s enough.

So, as we start to celebrate this year’s holiday traditions, I invite you to think about how you can make impact in ways that go beyond a present, but rather, in ways where our presence gives warmth, shelter, comfort, love, and hope.

Some simple, thoughtful examples include:

  • Forgo a gift exchange with family and friends, instead have everyone donate an amount they feel comfortable with to AIWA-SF and watch the donation change lives.
  • We all smile in the same language, walking around with an extra big smile.
  • Share a Facebook post promoting something that inspires and moves you.  We would be extra appreciative if you shared an AIWA-SF post of event.
  • Donate through a corporate donation match program. Many of our donors are able to double their donation as a result.
  • Be attentive to those around you. Perhaps it’s refilling a cup of tea for a loved one or helping a stranger.
  • No amount is too small, any contribution makes a difference.

It’s truly amazing how a small gesture can spark such positive change.  I invite you to join us and participate; be part of something bigger than yourself and make impact.

We gratefully accept donations online by clicking here. Checks can be mailed to: AIWA-SF 15559 Union Ave #227 Los Gatos CA 95032.

To learn more about AIWA www.aiwainternational.org, to learn more about AIWA-SF, visit www.aiwasanfrancisco.com or email us at aiwasanfrancisco@gmail.com.



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