When George Yacoubian and his wife, Erica, adopted Liliana from Armenia in 2004, they secured a life of promise and fulfillment for their new child in King of Prussia. These days, George is giving the same hope to youngsters thousands of miles away through the Society for Orphaned Armenian Relief, launched in 2006 with the goal of distributing supplies and money among the country’s 15 orphanages.
“Through the adoption processes in Armenia, we saw just how bad the conditions in their orphanages were,” says George. “We wanted to give back.”
Dilapidated buildings, poor plumbing and a mediocre diet encourage neither growth nor hope in an area struggling with social, economic and political turmoil. “In terms of social services, orphans are some of the most underserved,” George says. “They take a backseat to everything else going on in the country.”
SOAR’s reach also extends to the communities around the orphanages, where volunteers deliver clothing and toys. Monetary donations are sent to the same volunteers to finance renovation and construction projects for the orphanages, ultimately stimulating local economies.
Headquartered in King of Prussia, SOAR has nearly doubled its contributions from $59,700 in 2006 to about $112,000 last year. Its success has resulted in new chapters in Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., and plans are in the works for offices in Florida, Toronto, Montréal and Lebanon.
George is also working on a fundraiser for October. “We’re trying to develop a birthday program, a sponsor-a-child program, music scholarships—just things to make the lives of these kids better so they can be happier on a day-to-day basis,” he says.
To learn more, visit soar-us.org.