Home Greek America Corps August 2020

Greek America Corps August 2020

by gafoundation1

Serving Vulnerable Communities in Athens and Chios (August 17-31, 2020)

Why this program?

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 financial crisis which has decimated homes and families. 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 in city squares. This particular program will support three of the most innovative charities in Greece, one supporting homeless individuals living in the streets, another supporting unaccompanied refugee minors — underage children who have arrived in Greece by themselves, and a third supporting abandoned children.

Important Note

This is an abridged program that we have launched due to COVID-19 (and related travel/health restrictions) forcing us to cancel our programs which we had originally planned for June and July.

Program overview

This is a two-week program which entails serving homeless individuals and 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 need financial aid, they can opt to purchase the package after they have been accepted. This program is 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, which was founded in 2013 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 METAdrasi, which was founded in 2010 to help facilitate the reception and integration of refugees and immigrants in Greece. METAdrasi focuses on services not covered by the public authorities or other non-governmental organizations in Greece and operates mainly in two sectors: interpretation services and the protection of unaccompanied refugee minors.
 
Finally, our third partner is Kivotos Tou Kosmou (Ark of the World), an organization founded in 1997 by Father Antonios Papanikolaou, a Greek Orthodox priest who realized the grave problems facing abandoned and unprotected children in inner-city Athens where he served his first parish. With facilities throughout Greece, Kivotos provides critical services for children who have been abandoned or who are abused at home and in need of a nurturing environment to heal. 
 
This program will take place within the center of Athens and includes an excursion to the island of Chios, where we will spend a weekend with the children of Kivotos Tou Kosmou offering them companionship through various activities.

Program dates & description

The program begins on Monday, August 17 with an informal arrival, registration and check-in at our accommodation location (TBA) in the center of Athens. Volunteers MUST be present on August 17 for our 5:00pm orientation, followed by a welcome dinner. Our group will visit the island of Chios during the program (Dates/details TBA). The program will conclude on Monday, August 31 with a farewell dinner. Participants will be responsible for their own arrangements beginning on Tuesday, September 1.

Volunteers will work closely with Greek America Foundation, Emfasis and METAdrasi staff and under their supervision. Ordinarily, volunteers will work weekdays for 6-8 hours per day (with lunch break) in various locations within the city center of Athens.

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

Our visit with Kivotos Tou Kosmou will take place during the excursion to Chios, where we will spend a weekend with children under the organization’s care and participate in various activities with them.

During some evenings, volunteers will either have free time to explore or attend dinner-inclusive excursions arranged by the Greek America Foundation. Excursions will include the brief trip to Chios (Dates/details TBA) — which in and of itself will include various cultural activities — as well as local happenings and cultural events taking place in Athens.

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 the two-week program 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 (including the Chios trip) are included in the price of the program. Airfare to Greece is not included. 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.

COVID-19

The Greek America Foundation staff has regularly monitored the COVID-19 pandemic both globally and in Greece. Our program will adhere to all guidelines as specified by US, Canadian and Greek health officials. 

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 $2,399.00 (plus airfare to Greece). This cost includes accommodations, some meals and 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.

Acknowledgements

We thank Ms. Patricia Kassis-Lambrecht of Palm Beach, FL for sponsoring our mission to Chios to serve unaccompanied refugee minors. She is doing this in memory of the Kazaglis family, her own family of refugees who fled from Smyrna in 1922 and arrived in Chios before emigrating to the United States.

We thank Dr. Spiro Macris of Wilmington, NC for his sponsorship of two students.

The Order of AHEPA will honor the organization’s century of service by sponsoring one student on the program.

Gregory C. Pappas donated his 52nd birthday to the cause and raised enough money from family and friends’ gifts to sponsor one student.

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 sharing viewpoints 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.

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. 

Application

Click below to open our application form. DEADLINE FRIDAY, JULY 3 AT 11:59pm EST

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 is making 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.