More Greek American relief efforts announced. Stelios Taketzis of the Hellenic Relief Foundation: “People wanted to kiss our hands”. Greek business people launch an international plea asking to “Give Greece a Chance”
New York.- By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
The first food aid packages for needy Greeks were delivered last week by members of the Hellenic Relief Foundation, a Greek American non-profit organization. Board members Prokopis Zervas and Stelios Taketzis visited on Saturday the City of Athens Homeless Shelter and delivered 145 food bags containing Flower, Sugar, toast (Fryganies), olive oil, canned tomatoes, Canned milk, rice, spaghetti, lentil, beans, garbanzos, coffee/tea, toilet paper and detergent. The provisions can help a four-member family for about a month. Yesterday the board members were expected to deliver 90 more food bags at Perama.
“I am sad to report that the first phase of food delivery was completed successfully. I say sad because I cannot use the word happy. Coming face to face with destitute is highly emotional and taxing. On the other hand I am glad that through our collective efforts we were able to help a little so I guess the right verb should be satisfied”, Stelios Taketzis said in a short preliminary briefing to his fellow board members.
People that received the aid were notified to be at the Center by 1 pm, but they started arriving at 10 am. City police was at the door to make sure there was order.
“The packing was done by volunteers the previous night and police guarded the place all night”, Taketzis says in his report. “The ladies of the Association of the Friends of the Homeless Foundation of the City of Athens (“Syllogos philon idrimatos astegon Dimou Athineon”) were checking the ID cards and crosschecking with the list of the people who were notified. All the people notified are certified low income unemployed (with tax paper etc) who used to get food from the city (Koinoniko Pantopoleio). The “koinoniko pantopoleio” (social grocery store) can give food to 360 families for 6 months. After the 6 months expire they cannot receive more food since they have about 5000 applications and the number is growing.”
More graphic and emotional is his description of the aid recipients reactions.
“I m glad we use a system of verification which is important for our accountability but for me the strongest verification was the eyes of these people who grabbed the bag and left in a hurry trying to find a balance between their need and their dignity.
The people were very appreciative, some of them wanted to kiss our hands. The bags were closed. One gentleman went home, opened the bag and when he realized the amount of the provisions and heard people from the Hellenic Relief Foundation were there, he came back to personally thank us.”
Stelios Taketzis expressed the hope, after the Greek American Community seeing and hearing
the results of this pilot program will support the foundation, so that the next operation will be much bigger.”
You can assist Hellenic Relief Foundation’s efforts by depositing your donation directly to:
Alma Bank- Hellenic Relief Foundation -Account #1020001011
Marathon Bank – Hellenic Relief Foundation – Account #1000072657
You may also send your checks to the Hellenic Relief Foundation – PO Box 735 – Mineola, NY 11501.
For further information, call (347) 201-1821 or visit their web page www.hellenicrelief.org. email : firstname.lastname@example.org
The Hellenic Medical Societies of USA and Canada has established Greek Relief Fund, to support various charities in Greece. (More information on page 40) You may send your tax deductible contribution payable to:
Federation of Hellenic Medical Societies of North America
PO Box 2432
Lenox Hill Station
New York, NY 10021
or Pay by credit card at Federation Website: www.Hellenicmedical.com
The Pan-Cretan Association of America made last week an appeal to all its member associations and all Cretans in America to provide financial aid to Cretans in Greece. In a public plea for help, the President of the Pancretan Association of America (PAA), Giannis Manos, announced the formation of a special Charity Committee. The funds raised will be sent to the Archbishop of Crete, Irinaios, to be distributed to homeless Cretans and families in need. A part of the funds will be given to Volunteering Doctors in Crete.
The goal is to send the raised funds by the end of February and in April.
International Orthodox Christian Charities’ (IOCC) executive director, Constantine Triantafilou, was in Athens last weekend for meetings with relief partners. He is returning today to the U.S.
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese has launched its biggest fundraising effort of the last 35 years using besides direct donations, social media and sms. Although there is not an official progress report, based on some large donations offered to the Archbishop the amount of the donations is close to a million dollars.
Archbishop Demetrios is also considering other ways to help Greek people, by mobilizing business and civic leaders of the community.
GIVE GREECE A CHANCE
Greek business leaders launched ad campaigns – including the website www.greeceischanging.com – to trumpet the need for international support. The gist: “All we are saying is give Greece a chance.”
“Greece is Changing” is an one-off public service initiative funded by a group of leading Greek business people. Their aim is to ensure that the sacrifices made by every Greek under the toughest austerity package in modern history do not go in vain.
In a full page ad published on Saturday in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Give Greece a Chance” they say:
“Greece has committed to the toughest austerity program in modern history. Hefty tax hikes, pension and wage cuts have reduced the primary budget deficit from €24.7 billion to €5.2 billion in just two years… but with a dramatic impact on the life of every Greek.
A new set of measures was recently voted in by the Greek Parliament. With a focus on structural reform, we have a chance to create a new Greece. A modern, productive and creative Greece with a sustainable future in Europe.
Further hardship is inevitable. Unemployment has already reached 21pc. This is a high price to pay and it should not go in vain.
We are entering the fifth year of recession. Our European partners have stood by us. But we need continued support and the breathing space to get out of this vicious cycle. And we deserve to know that there is a fair chance of success.
We are hardworking, taxpaying citizens unfairly labelled with stereotypes so easily handed out to Greeks today. We are Europeans who aspire to a constructive role within Europe. We will deliver on our commitment. We have already made sacrifices. We are ready to do more. We are betting our future on this. All we are saying is give Greece a chance.”