The Fresno Family Counseling Center, a low-cost provider of counseling services run by Fresno State’s Kremen School of Education and Human Development, received a $200,000 gift from alumnus and retired dentist Dr. Harry Moordigian to help expand mental health service in the Central Valley.
Moordigian will be recognized at a reception at 5:30 p.m. May 20 at the Smittcamp Alumni House on the Fresno State campus. More than 200 students, faculty and alumni are expected to attend the celebration in honor of Moordigian’s gift and the 29th anniversary of the center serving the community.
Since 1985, the center has been giving graduate students an opportunity to gain clinical experience in marriage, family and child counseling. The sessions are videotaped and monitored by licensed supervisors, enhancing the quality of counseling for patients and providing immediate and intensive training for student therapists.
A supporter of Fresno State since the 1970s when he joined the Bulldog Foundation, Moordigian also donated to the Armenian Studies Department and athletics program in 1993. In 2007 he honored his parents, Harry and Nevart Moordigian, by establishing an endowment to support the Department of Viticulture and Enology in the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology. He continues to grow this scholarship, which now stands at nearly $250,000.
Moordigian’s recent giving and passion for the Fresno Family Counseling Center stems from a letter he discovered three years ago written by his mother. “
“My parents were survivors of the Armenian genocide,” Moordigian said. “Through this letter, I learned that in addition to my paternal grandfather, my mother’s father had also been killed in the genocide when my parents were very young.” He said she was able to escape to America and start a family, but died of cancer when Moordigian was 3 years old.
“This letter is how I finally met my mother. And when I realized what she went through without any counseling, it just tore me apart.”
Moordigian shared the letter with faculty at the Fresno Family Counseling Center and learned that his mother likely suffered from depression. “I said to myself, OK, I want to support what they are doing for the community in memory of my parents.”
According to the center’s director, Dr. Christopher Lucey, private support is critical given the limited budget. He said the center’s 12 counseling rooms are furnished with hand-me-downs from campus, the walls were painted by student volunteers and the staff is constantly looking to stretch its budget to maximize its reach.
This academic year the center held about 10,000 sessions. Faculty estimate that two-thirds of the clients are considered impoverished and cannot be served by the local mental health system because of county budgetary constraints or other barriers to access.
“The work we do here is important to our students who are getting an incredible clinical experience, but it’s also so important to the community because many of our clients have nowhere else to go,” saidDr. Kyle Weir, a supervising faculty member in the counselor education program.
While clients are expected to pay for their sessions, the fees are on a sliding scale. Lucey says that contributing financially to treatment, even if it’s as low as one dollar, encourages ownership and accountability.
Faculty at the center hope to use the gift from Moordigian to expand programs that target the Hmong community in partnership with Stone Soup. They also are looking to reinstate “Placticas,” a program that provides mental health outreach at food distributions in rural Fresno and Madera counties.
For more information, contact Kathleen Schock, director of media and development communications, at 559.278.2756 or email@example.com.