New York – Archbishop Demetrios announced that the Special Committee overseeing the Greek Fire Relief Fund of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America allocated $1,294,934 to assist those impacted by the 2007 wildfires in Greece.
This amount will fund two important projects to be coordinated by International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC). The first project will help build a Soil Laboratory in the affected region. The second will continue the Livelihood Recovery Project III, a program for farmers in the Prefecture of Ileia, the region that suffered the greatest destruction.
“We are grateful to the Almighty for the devoted faithful of our Archdiocese of America whose magnanimous generosity enabled us to respond in such a substantial way from the onset of this catastrophe,” wrote Archbishop Demetrios in a letter to IOCC, announcing the Committeeʼs decision to approve these two proposals.
Since its inception, the Fund has collected over $4.1 million. With these two latest allocations, the Archdiocese has distributed over $3,315,000 in assistance to farmers and firefighters in the Prefectures of Ileia and Arcadia. Immediately after the fires, in the Fall of 2007 the Archdiocese gave over $250,000 to provide 442 metric tons of feed to almost two thousand farmers and in January of this year, gave another $1,652,998 to continue this critical program which has greatly assisted hard-hit farmers with 2,685 metric tons of animal feed and forage seed. Last September the Fund donated $117,322 to supply the firefighters in Pyrgos with 215 fire shelters, which will improve their safety and enhance their ability to effectively combat wildfires. There are several proposals that the Committee will review in the New Year.
These latest endeavors will greatly assist the Prefecture of Ileia to recover its agricultural production following the devastation of 2007. The new Soil Laboratory will enable farmers to determine how best to revive production and rehabilitate the soil which has been impacted not only by the fires and the chemicals used to extinguish them, but also by years of haphazard use. Until now, farmers in the area have had to send soil samples to Athens and wait an average of three weeks for results. A local laboratory will facilitate those farmers as well as encourage many others to take advantage of this innovative program. The Livelihood Recovery Project III will assist those farmers whose lands have not recovered from the devastation and do not yet produce sufficient quantities of forage to sustain their animals especially during the winter months.
Archbishop Demetrios serves as Chairman of the committee overseeing the Greek Fire Relief Fund. Committee members are Michael Jaharis, vice-chair of the Archdiocesan Council; Aphrodite Skeadas, president of the National Philoptochos; Steven Yeonas, chairman of Leadership 100; Peter Kikis, president of the Faith Endowment; Anthony Limberakis, national commander of the Order of St. Andrew and Andrew Natsios, past administrator of USAID who has extensive experience in effectively coordinating international philanthropic assistance.