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Greek America Corps Thessaloniki 2022

by gafoundation1

Serving Vulnerable Communities in Thessaloniki

Why this program?

From Gregory C. Pappas, President & Founder

After four summers of hosting successful volunteer programs in Athens and Chios, we’re expanding Greek America Corps in 2022 with our first-ever program in Thessaloniki — the capital of northern Greece. This program one of the most innovative charities in Greece which serves vulnerable people including hundreds of refugee children and their families. Initiatives like these help develop the strong interpersonal ties between the people of North America and Greece, all while promoting the values of philanthropy, volunteerism and service.

Program dates:

June 25, 2022 - July 17, 2022

Application closed

DEADLINE: JANUARY 28, 2022. The application deadline has passed, but if you are interested in future programs please subscribe to our email list.

Watch the recap of our 2021 programs

Program overview

This is a three-week Greek America Corps prograwhich entails serving vulnerable populations in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki in a structured environment and in partnership with respected non-profit organizations and institutions.

For applicants with financial need, we offer scholarships that cover accommodations and program expenses such as excursions, transportation and most meals. Alternatively, if applicants do not require financial aid, they can opt to purchase the package after they have been accepted. These programs are ideal for participants between 18-25 years old. This age range is strongly preferred by not a strict requirement. 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

Our primary partner is Elpida Home, a non-profit organization which aims to provide a humane, dignified and empowered living experience for refugees and other vulnerable groups. “Elpida” means “hope” in Greek and Elpida Home hopes to better the world by providing sustainable solutions to ensure successful integration into society. Since the peak of the refugee crisis in 2015,  the organization has provided vulnerable people with shelter and safety, essential items, healthcare, education, psychosocial support and legal assistance. For nearly three years, Elpida Home has operated a community center in downtown Thessaloniki to offer services to those in need. 

Additional partnerships are being developed to ensure that participants will have a holistic, enriching experience. 

Our program will take place within the center and surrounding areas of Thessaloniki based on the activities of our partners.

Program dates & description

This program runs from June 25, 2022 to July 17, 2022. The program begins with an informal arrival, meet-and-greet and check-in at our hotel (exact location TBA). No official activities will be scheduled in order to allow for all participants to rest and settle in following presumably long travels. Volunteers MUST be present on the listed start dates. The first day after arrival day will consist of brief orientations and meetings with our charity partners followed by a Greek America Foundation welcome dinner in the evening. The program will conclude on the final evening with a farewell dinner. Participants will be responsible for their own travel arrangements after checking out from the hotel on departure day.

Volunteers will work closely with and under the supervision of the Greek America Foundation staff and our partners. Our volunteer locations include the Elpida Home community center, various open-air farmer’s markets and the facilities of the American Farm School on the city’s outskirts.

The Greek America Foundation and Elpida Home will co-develop the organization’s first-ever summer camp program for its child beneficiaries with a target age between 5-10 years old. Activities will include art, music therapy and other creative exercises intended to give the children opportunity to express themselves. Our work with Elpida Home will occupy the majority of our volunteering itinerary.

Greek America Corps

Ordinarily, volunteers will work weekdays for 4-6 hours per day with a lunch break. In the evenings and at times during the day, volunteers will either have free time to explore the city or attend meal-inclusive excursions arranged by the Greek America Foundation. Such excursions may include visiting museums and historical sites or attending cultural events and other happenings

Program specifics

Accommodation will be provided a location (TBA) in the center of Thessaloniki. Daily breakfast is included. Several group lunches and dinners will also be provided. 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 either via public or privately arranged transportation, depending on the day’s activities. Excursions/activities are included in the price of the program. Airfare to Greece and/or Thessaloniki 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 require all participants to have travel medical insurance for emergency and routine medical needs during program dates. The approximate cost ranges from $30-50 USD, depending on your age. We will provide further information on where to purchase insurance after you are accepted into the program. If you currently own a health insurance policy, we suggest that you check whether coverage is available abroad. On-site staff will be available 24/7 to support volunteers should emergencies arise.

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 at times we will be outside 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 accessible 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 costs including accommodation; local transportation; cultural meals and excursions and administrative fees. Airfare to Greece and/or Thessaloniki is not covered by scholarship funds. You can also opt to pay for the program if you do not require financial aid. The cost for participation is $3,900 (plus airfare). It is not necessary for you to complete a separate application or provide additional materials to receive a scholarship; instead, you will specify this detail in your application by selecting “Pay” or “Scholarship.”

College credit

For an additional fee (price available by request), participants have the option to accrue college credits 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 are interested in receiving these credits and our Greece-based program director, Eleni Anagnostopoulos, will contact you to provide information on pricing.

COVID-19

The Greek America Foundation staff is actively monitoring 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. At any given time, the foundation may adjust plans for this program depending on health guidelines and travel restrictions.

Greek America Corps

Frequently asked questions

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.

Only U.S. and Canadian nationals or lawful permanent residents are eligible to participate.

This is not a “strict” requirement; however, the ideal and most common age of participants is between 18-25.

No, volunteers do not need to be enrolled in college, nor in possession of a college degree.

No extra materials are required. You simply must specify on your application whether you are requesting a scholarship — which is based on financial need — or offering to pay for the cost of your participation.

Accommodation, local transportation, most meals, excursions, miscellaneous supplies and administrative fees.

This largely depends on your personal preferences and spending habits; however, you can safely anticipate spending between 80-100 euros per week on your own food and beverages.

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.

The Greek America Foundation vets all volunteer locations for safety and suitability for our volunteers. Likewise, our charity partners are also vetted for accountability and ability to handle our volunteer group. The city of Thessaloniki is generally quite safe. Reasonable precautions will be taken at all times and volunteers will be instructed on safety for a variety of contexts.

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

Volunteers will work weekdays for 4-6 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 schedules tend to vary depending on the circumstances presented each day. A more detailed schedule will be shared with volunteers in the weeks leading up to their program’s start date.

Yes. Our programs are structured to give volunteers ample free time to explore and experience Greece independently; however, volunteers should not make arrangements that directly conflict with our daily schedule.

Volunteers are generally placed in double or triple rooms on a male vs. female basis. Under extentuating circumstances, the Greek America Foundation may offer to accommodate single room requests, provided that our hotel has availability.

After being accepted, volunteers will be required to participate in preparatory Zoom meetings organized by the Greek America Foundation staff. These meetings will provide volunteers with information about finer details and logistics.

If you are accepted into the program, you are required to purchase your own travel health insurance in order to participate. The approximate cost ranges from $30-50 USD, depending on your age and chosen provider. The Greek America Foundation will provide further information about where and how to purchase travel health insurance after your acceptance into the program.

The Greek America Foundation requires all accepted volunteers to share emergency contact information prior to the program’s start date. In the event of an emergency, Greek America Foundation staff will always be available to help volunteers and facilitate their access to medical care; however, volunteers and/or their families are fully responsible for covering the upfront cost of any emergency medical care and filing health insurance claims for reimbursements (if necessary) thereafter.

Is your question not included above?

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