Contra Costa Times, CA
July 24 2004
Helping Armenians fulfills a family
RELATIVES TRAVEL TO ARMENIA WITH DONATIONS – Alamo resident Mary Kate
Tengler; her mother, Nancy Tengler, and grandmother Lorraine Caven
recently returned home from a trip to Armenia, where they delivered
school supplies to Norashen Michnagarg School, which had recently
been built thanks in large part to Lorraine.
The Tengler family and Lorraine are members of the Bay Area Friends
of Armenia. It turns out that Lorraine, 80-plus years young and young
at heart, works in the copy room at Walnut Creek Intermediate School
and has been sending her entire paycheck to BAFA with the expressed
purpose of funding the rebuilding of this school, destroyed in a 1988
“The school needed to raise 10 percent of the construction cost to be
eligible for government funding. My mother’s contribution comprised
virtually all of the 10 percent, and through her efforts the school
rebuilding was accomplished,” said Nancy.
Mary Kate, 13, began her project of helping the students of this
school last year. It started when the pastor of Community
Presbyterian Church in Danville, Scott Farmer, distributed $100 bills
to the congregation with the intent that the money be used to help
others. A member of the church donated a total of $10,000.
Mary Kate took the $100 and used it to buy supplies to make Salvation
Bracelets, which she sold to other children at her school. Together
with her sales and other donations, Mary Kate collected $700, which
she in turn used to purchase New Testament bibles and school supplies
for two Armenian schools. During this time, Mary Kate, Nancy and
Lorraine collected stuffed animals, refurbished and cleaned them and
had them sent to a soup kitchen in Armenia.
This year, Mary Kate’s eighth-grade class at San Ramon Valley
Christian Academy and the junior high student council raised money
and collected school supplies and more stuffed animals, which are
being shipped this month to more schools in Armenia.
Even though the Norashen Michnagarg School has been open for a year
now, this is the first trip the three women have taken to Armenia,
and they missed the school’s official opening ceremony. During this
recent trip, the Norashen officials decided Lorraine should have a
special ceremony during the visit.
A dedication plaque was hung outside the gymnasium and a ceremony was
conducted thanking Lorraine for her contribution. Children sang songs
and recited poems, and even though they don’t speak the language,
Lorraine and her family appreciated the heartfelt performance. A
translator helped them to understand some of the wonderful messages
of thanks the children were conveying.
“It was an experience of a lifetime; each day I recall a special
memory,” Lorraine said. “All of the kids shouted out ‘thank you’ in
Armenian. I could cry thinking about it now.”
This time, Mary Kate hand-delivered the school supplies and bibles to
the children and had the opportunity to meet them; some of them are
And Lorraine finally got to see the school she helped build.
“One of the kids thanked me and asked if there was something nice
they could do for me in return, and I told my mom they already did,”
added Mary Kate.
Nancy agreed it was a rewarding trip for the three ladies — “It is
one of the most fulfilling things I can think of to help people who
are so eager to join in and help themselves,” she said. “They simply
need a little something to work with.”
The end of the trip left the three exhilarated and with lots of
Driving away from the schools and soup kitchens, Nancy reflected on
the similarities of Mt. Ararat and the people of Armenia. In an
excerpt from an article she wrote for the BAFA newsletter, she
reflected on their experience. “At each twist and turn in the road,
Mt. Ararat loomed in the background. It is magnificent to behold and
the ease with which it rises to its height of almost 17,000 feet
gives off a surreal image that is impossible to erase from your mind.
Much like the Armenian people, I mused. Strong, magnificent and
rugged,” she wrote.
For more information on BAFA contact the Tenglers by email at
Have a great week!
From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress