The Greek America Foundation is expanding its successful summer volunteer program in Greece to a new location: Thessaloniki, the second largest Greek city. The program currently operates in Athens and on the island of Chios.
Our team will work alongside Elpida Home, an innovative non-profit organization that provides a humane, dignified and empowered living experience for refugees and other vulnerable groups through various services.
Although Elpida Home will be our main partner, we will also partner with other non-profit organizations and institutions in the city to offer our volunteers a fulfilling experience of service, while supporting the needs of these established organizations.
The volunteer program’s main objective is to collaborate with Elpida Home to create and implement an urban summer camp program for young people from refugee families served by the organization. It’s the first time Elpida Home will establish such a program for the children in their network and the Greek America Foundation team members will be integral in bringing it to fruition.
A Message from Gregory Pappas:
Thessaloniki came into our sphere of activities because of the perfect aligning of the stars. It was first suggested to me that we look at the city as a place to bring our volunteer work during a meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Greece, Geoffrey Pyatt, who believed we could do a lot of good work there and encouraged me to look northward during a discussion about our expansion plans.
After a meeting with Elizabeth Lee, the U.S. consul general, and a visit to Elpida Home, which was founded by Amed Khan, a personal friend of mine, the stars had all aligned; therefore, I felt it was a good move for the Greek America Foundation’s expansion plans, which were already mandated by our board of directors.
We are fortunate to have the support and encouragement of the U.S. Mission in Greece, as well as a great relationship with a solid anchor partner in Elpida Home. I’m excited to expand into this thriving city, which is home to hundreds of thousands of university students, not to mention a rich and diverse history.
Add to this mix of aligning stars: Our longtime supporters, Julie and Tim Tsirambidis, enthusiastically embraced our Thessaloniki plans and offered to help us raise the necessary $40,000 to operate the program and send eight volunteers next summer. The Cleveland natives and their family, who have roots in northern Greece where their own refugee grandparents settled when they fled Pontos, are longtime supporters of the Greek America Foundation.
Applications for the Thessaloniki program, as well as programs in Athens and Chios, are currently being received here.