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Greek America Corps Athens 2021

by gafoundation1

Serving Vulnerable Communities in Athens

Why these programs?

From Gregory C. Pappas, President & Founder

According to official statistics, almost 4 million people in Greece live below the poverty level — largely a result of a decade-long crippling financial crisis. Today, an estimated 20,000 homeless people live in Athens, which is exacerbated with the recent arrival of tens of thousands of refugees and migrants, many of whom flee camps or detention centers and live in makeshift camps. These particular programs will support three of the most innovative charities in Greece: one supporting homeless individuals in “street situations;” another supporting unaccompanied refugee minors — underage children who have arrived in Greece by themselves — and a third supporting food-vulnerable people

Program #1: June 2, 2021 - June 23, 2021
Program #2: June 27, 2021 - July 18, 2021

Important Note

The Greek America Foundation is actively monitoring COVID-19-related developments. At any given time, the foundation may adjust plans for these programs depending on health guidelines and travel restrictions.

Program overview

These are two three-week Greek America Corps programs which entail serving homeless and food-vulnerable individuals as well as unaccompanied refugee minors in a structured environment and in partnership with respected Greek non-profit organizations. For applicants with financial need, we offer scholarships that cover lodging and program expenses such as excursions, transportation and some meals. Alternatively, if applicants do not require financial aid, they can opt to purchase the package after they have been accepted. These programs are open to anyone 18-30 years old. Volunteers do not need to be enrolled in college, nor in possession of a college degree. See below for the full program details.

Partners & location

One of our partners is Emfasis Foundation, an organization founded in 2013 with a goal to support thousands of poor, homeless, unemployed and vulnerable people in Athens. Emfasis provides basic everyday food items during its streetwork outreach program and also performs food drives in collaboration with fellow nonprofits. The foundation also performs night runs to provide psychosocial support for people who live (or spend a substantial part of their day) on the streets.
Our second partner is Boroume, an organization founded in 2012 with a goal to reduce food waste and fight malnutrition in Greece. Through its “Saving & Offering Food” program, Boroume saves food on a daily basis from many sources and offers it to charities that help people facing food insecurity. Boroume’s actions help the most vulnerable in Greek society as well as the environment by reducing organic food waste.
Finally, our third partner is the Greek Council for Refugees, an organization founded in 1989 in order to defend the rights of refugees in Greece with a particular focus on human rights and asylum issues. GCR is an operative partner of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and in 2005 GCR received an award as a “Quality Islet of Collective Action” from then Greek President Karolos Papoulias. On a daily basis, GCR offers free legal and social services to refugees with special emphasis on vulnerable cases such as unaccompanied minors or victims of trafficking. 
These two programs will take place within the center and surrounding areas of Athens based on the activities of our partners.

Program dates & description

Two sets of dates are available for this program; the program itinerary remains the same, but two separate time periods are offered for summer 2021. The two sets of dates are as follows.

Program one: June 2, 2021 – June 23, 2021
Program two: June 27, 2021 – July 18, 2021

NOTE: You will specify in your application for which dates you wish to apply.

The first day of each program begins with an informal arrival, registration and check-in at our accommodation location (TBA) in the center of Athens. Volunteers MUST be present on the listed start dates for our evening orientation, followed by a welcome dinner. Each program will conclude on the final evening with a farewell dinner and participants will be responsible for their own arrangements beginning the following day — e.g. Thursday, June 24 (program one) and Monday, July 19 (program two).

Volunteers will work closely with staff from the Greek America Foundation, Emfasis, Boroume and the Greek Council for Refugees and under their supervision. Ordinarily, volunteers will work weekdays for 6-8 hours per day (with lunch break) in various locations within the greater Athens area.

Work with Emfasis will include training on the streetwork toolkit & outreach methodology. This will encompass a general knowledge about the demographic profile of the population in street conditions, protocol & safety, team structure, objectives and outcomes. Also included will be occasional “night runs” with Emfasis street workers. Volunteers will help provide psychosocial support; distribute survival kits and food items to homeless living in the Athens and Piraeus areas; help prepare Emfasis’ two Mobile Support Units; fill out report/observation sheets and document parts of the experience in a blog format to share with the organization and peers. 

Work with Boroume will include visiting open-air farmers markets in the center of Athens to collect leftover food to be distributed to charities supporting food-vulnerable people. Volunteers will also support the organization’s work at soup kitchens which feed the hungry and the homeless.

Work with the Greek Council for Refugees will entail providing the organization’s young beneficiaries with education, enrichment and friendship through arts, cultural, recreational and skills-based activities. Volunteers may also be asked to support the GCR team with basic administrative and maintenance projects such as meal planning and preparation, cleaning and beautification of common spaces and routine child care needs.

During some evenings, volunteers will either have free time to explore or attend dinner-inclusive excursions arranged by the Greek America Foundation. Such excursions may include visiting museums and historical sites or attending local happenings and cultural events.

Program specifics

Accommodation will be provided at a location in the center of Athens (TBA). Daily breakfast is included. Several dinners will also be provided during each program. Participants should budget about €80 per week for extra meals that are not included in the package. Transportation to and from volunteer locations will be provided via public transportation (e.g. bus or metro) as required by the day’s activities. Excursions/activities are included in the price of the program. Airfare to Greece is not included; however, our staff can help with international and domestic travel arrangements, as well as domestic air or ferry details. The Greek America Foundation will purchase travel medical insurance to cover emergency and routine medical needs only for the dates of the program. Please make sure to hold your own health insurance policy as well and check whether coverage is available abroad. On-site staff will be available 24/7 to support volunteers.

Desired qualities in a volunteer

The Greek America Foundation seeks volunteers who are able to handle quickly changing environments, encountering people from different cultures and the emotional ups and downs that come with working in challenging conditions. Our volunteer work may at times be physically demanding: summer temperatures in Greece can reach 100 degrees and we will be outside at times engaging in physical activity. Please note that we will always be mindful of putting everyone’s health first during hot weather. Staff from the Greek America Foundation and our partner organizations will be on hand at all times. We encourage all volunteers to take down time, practice self-care and use their own coping strategies while engaged in this work. Having strong boundaries, knowing your limits and when to take a break are important skills while volunteering.

Scholarships/program fees

If you need financial aid, you may opt for a full scholarship covering all program fees mentioned above. Airfare to Greece is not covered by scholarship funds. You can also opt to pay for the program if you do not need financial aid. The cost for participation is $3,799.00 (plus airfare to Greece). This cost includes accommodations, multiple meals and all cultural activities/excursions. It is not necessary for you to complete a separate application to receive a scholarship; instead, you will specify this detail in your application by selecting “Paid” or “Scholarship” when prompted.

College credit

For an additional fee, participants have the option to accrue college credit that can be applied to their studies at their home institution via our partnership with the Hellenic American University, a U.S.-accredited institution of higher education in Athens. Students are responsible for checking with their home institutions about transfer of credits. A counselor at Hellenic American University will be made available to assist, as will a curriculum and coursework. Please mention in your application if you wish to receive this credit. 


The Greek America Foundation staff is actively monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic both globally and in Greece. Our programs will adhere to all guidelines as specified by US, Canadian and Greek health officials. At any given time, the foundation may adjust plans for these programs depending on health guidelines and travel restrictions.

Greek America Corps


Click here to submit your application. DEADLINE: FEBRUARY 14, 2021.
Late submissions (no more than one week) will be accepted under special circumstances. If you’d like to request an extension, please contact our program director, Eleni Anagnostopoulos, via email.

Watch the wrap-up from our 2020 program

Frequently asked questions

Is it safe to travel during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Our program will adhere to all guidelines as specified by relevant health authorities. Applicants are solely responsible for determining whether or not they feel comfortable to travel.

How will we enter Greece if U.S. citizens are still banned from entering the EU?

The Greek America Foundation will make special arrangements for our volunteers to enter Greece as humanitarian volunteers, which are exempt from the EU’s restrictions.

Is it safe to be in Athens?

The Greek America Foundation vets all volunteer locations for safety and suitability for our volunteers. Likewise, NGO partners are also vetted for accountability and ability to handle our volunteer group. The city of Athens is generally quite safe. Reasonable precautions will be taken to ensure safety at all times. Volunteers will receive safety training and guidance on behavior best practices for a variety of contexts.

I’d like to attend another program/conference/family celebration. Can I join the program late or leave at any time?

Participants are expected to be present for the duration of the program as detailed above and not attend other events.

What’s a typical day like?

Volunteers will work weekdays for 6-8 hours per day (with a lunch break). Our group will complete tasks as specified above (see “Program dates & description”). During evenings, volunteers will either have free time to explore or participate in excursions arranged by the Greek America Foundation. Group meetings will also take place when appropriate. Please note that daily schedules tend to vary depending on the circumstances presented each day.

Do I need to speak Greek to participate?

English and Greek will be the main languages spoken in the volunteer program. Knowledge of Greek is not required, but knowledge of the language is a definite plus for our volunteers. Interpreters will be available at times.

Is your question not included above?

Please email our program director, Eleni Anagnostopoulos, to receive further information.