JMP–L is primarily financed by the Jinishian Memorial Program of the Presbyterian Church (USA), or PC (USA), an endowment fund established on May 17, 1966 by the bequest of Armenian businessman and philanthropist from New York Vartan H. Jinishian in memory of his parents, Rev. Haroutune and Mrs. Catherine Jinishian.
Over the years, JMP has developed into an international relief and development organization administered by PC (USA) that provides basic social services, relief grants, developmental assistance and spiritual uplift to millions of needy Armenians in the Middle East and more recently in Armenia.
To learn more about Vartan Jinishian, JMP history and sites, as well as PC (USA)’s role, please visit this website. For more detailed historical information, download the book Serving the Least of These (PDF, 993.2KB) published in 2001 on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of JMP’s founding.
Armenians who escaped the atrocities of the genocide committed by Ottoman Turkey in the beginning of the 20th century fled to Syria and then Lebanon in the 1920s and 1930s. Settling in the Bourj Hammoud area of Beirut, they built shack cities of dense population and slum conditions.
Vartan Jinishian was supporting projects in Lebanon initially through the Howard Karagheusian Commemorative Corporation (HKCC). By the mid-1960s, Jinishian was funding programs in Beirut through the United Presbyterian Church in the USAand its Commission on Ecumenical Mission and Relations (COEMAR).
In March 1966, the Rev. Benjamin Weir formed a consultative committee from the Armenian community in Lebanon. It was called the Beirut Relief Advisory Committee (BRAC) and was the Armenian Evangelical forerunner of the more inclusive Beirut Advisory Committee (BAC), which included all three Armenian denominations.
JMP–L past projects
Dr. Puzant Krikorian, Mr. Peter Braunschweig and Mr. Noubar Tavitian were among the early members of BRAC. They worked closely with HKCC and began serving the Armenian poor with two programs: a day nursery for working mothers and direct food relief. A social worker, Ms. Jane Krikorian, daughter of Dr. Krikorian, was engaged in home visitations among the poor.
A devastating flood in the spring of 1967 left many Bourj Hammoud residents homeless. A number of Armenian relief organizations, including BRAC, came to the rescue of 20 Armenian families and began working together on a cooperative basis. A co-op store opened where residents could buy food and supplies at low prices and where emergency supplies could be stored for future needs. Only two months later, a fire destroyed 100 shack homes in the Tiro area. Emergency relief and food were provided from the co-op store. At Christmas, women from the three Armenian denominations distributed food to the families.
In the spring of 1972, a number of social workers serving among the Armenian population came together to organize the Union of Armenian Social Workers. The impetus for this union came from a survey, sponsored partly by JMP, which studied the social problems and special needs within the Armenian community in Beirut. Titled A Survey of Social Problems and Needs Within the Armenian Community in Lebanon, the survey, which was done by Jerome (Jerry) Dines in March 1970, concluded that greater cooperation among the agencies engaged in serving Armenians would increase the effectiveness of their services.
JMP–L assumed a leading role in organizing the union and continues to act as a catalyst in its programs. JMP–L social workers and administrative staff are members in this union, which is a legally recognized organization.
The Anjar Dairy Cooperative was one of the early projects in which JMP and HKCC collaborated in the early 1970s. In order to improve milk production at the cooperative, a commercial loan was guaranteed by JMP and HKCC to purchase Holstein cattle from Denmark.
JMP had a major financial and administrative role in the founding of the Center for Mentally Handicapped Children in Lebanon, Zvartnots (a gathering of angels), which was established in 1987. The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation of Portugal joined JMP in making annual donations to the center. A day care center for Armenian children and youth, Zvartnots operates under the auspices and care of the Union of Armenian Social Workers in Lebanon.
In the past, JMP–L also provided financial assistance to:
- The dental clinic of the Armenian Prelacy of Lebanon.
- The creation of the Haigazian University teaching program on children’s psychology.
- The efforts of the social welfare agencies of the three Armenian denominations to hire social workers holding university degrees.
- The building of the EHLAN public houses and social work involved in this project.
- School children for school-related expenses (not tuition).
- The three Armenian orphanages where children of disadvantaged or marginalized families were receiving lodging and education.
- Elderly Home Care.
During its early days, JMP–L focused primarily on relief assistance. It then grew and carried out multiple developmental projects while offering a range of social and medical services in the community. JMP–L continues to encourage development projects in self-help and community-based development programs, in parallel with relief and welfare-type programs. Read about our programs and services.