Ed and Janet Mardigian were both raised knowing the importance of giving back to their communities. As an immigrant from Istanbul, Ed’s father started his family’s philanthropic foundation in 1955 after building a successful new life in the United States. Janet’s mother, also from Istanbul, was active in the Armenian church and held a deep compassion for others, which she passed onto her daughter. But it was Janet’s first trip to Armenia about 15 years ago, as a council member for the Armenian Diocese, that really changed everything.
Touring the country, she saw with her own eyes its drastic need for better schools, housing, food security, improved infrastructure and economic development. And her visit to the FAR Children’s Center in Yerevan was truly transformative. During the visit, the Center held a reception for the guests. The expressive faces of the children there, many of whom had suffered more in their short lives than one could imagine, resonated with Janet. Childhood, with its joys and boundlessness, its brief and precious moments, is was what all children deserved and what none should ever be denied. She returned home called to act. “I remember telling my husband and my mother-in-law that it just wasn’t right for any child to be suffering,” she said. “We had to do something. You cannot go to Armenia and not be affected by the children there, especially if you love children.”
It was a cause close to her heart, and one that would pave the path to Janet and Ed’s longterm quest to support real and positive change in Armenia. They contacted FAR immediately after Janet’s return to see how they could help support the FAR Children’s Center, and eventually signed up for a five-year pledge. They have been some of the Center’s most dedicated supporters ever since.