The Hellenic Initiative
In March 2020, our Foundation made a grant to The Hellenic Initiative. THI is an organization dedicated to helping Greeks living in Greece. Its mission and vision is to answer the call on crisis while helping the country move forward via job creation and fostering the overall economic development. As the COVID-19 pandemic unfold, its current main concern was the potential repercussions on families and communities and the re-evaluation and adjustment of its overall programmatic focus.
Utilization of donation
The grant was distributed to several Greek non-profit organizations that are in great need of support. More specifically:
· Psychological support to vulnerable families: Together for Children
The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown is placing a lot of families under extreme stress conditions. TfC launched its 11525 Helpline in 2009. In total over 5,000 families per year reach out for support by calling this number. In return they receive much needed counselling and psychological support through a team of professionals working alongside a large number of volunteers. There has been a spike in the numbers the last few weeks and the teams are now working from home having all the calls being diverted to their landlines. This service is still at 100% capacity and is needed now more than ever. We funded the same request a year ago. The grant will cover the salaries and other operations expenses associated with the Helpline keeping people at work while helping thousands of others find the help they ask for.
· Helping people with weak immune systems: Agigma Zois
Being immunocompromised is defined as having a weak or impaired immune system which reduces your ability to fight infections and other diseases including COVID-19. Agigma Zois is a small nonprofit working with cancer patients, supporting them and their families. It is the only nonprofit in Greece dealing with cancer patients that has been granted access through an official office in a Greek public hospital. That allows it to have better access to the incidents that require special attention and care. Agigma Zois is helping patients go through their treatments even in times were travelling is not safe, as with the case of this pandemic. It connects patients with doctors and it allows them to go through their chemo without travelling long distances. It also offers psychological support to them and their families through phone and Skype, group or 1-to-1, conferences. The grant will cover expense items associated with operations and salaries and it will allow the organization to offer even more at these critical times. It currently helps around 150 patients on a daily basis.
· Helping the elderly and the chronically ill: Galilee
Galilee is the country’s only palliative care unit. It’s the brainchild of Metropolitan Nikolaos of Mesogaia. Its beneficiaries include people at their later stages in their lives. The main focus of the organization is to provide palliative care services not only to cancer patients but to other groups with life-threatening illnesses. When the public health system reaches its limits some people may be denied access and those will be the ones at their later stages. Galilee is offering comfort, dignity, in-kind and psychological support to them and their families. This is another organization that THI has worked with in the past and the grant will cover salaries associated with the operations.
· Equipping the Greek public health system: Online campaign matched by Board contributions
The Greek hospitals need our support now more than ever. The country is weeks/months away from what many predict to be the peak. It is therefore important to purchase equipment that the hospitals currently lack. The equipment in need is either associated with the treatment of the patients (e.g.respirators, ICU beds/monitors) or with the personal safety of the medical professionals (e.g. face masks, sanitizers). THI has partnered internationally -Pfizer / Albert Bourlas or others in the Greek Diaspora in the pharma sector -or locally with companies like Motor Oil led by Marianna Vardinoyannis and her family. Doing so can guarantee we equip the hospitals at the right time and pricing.
· Virtually mentoring cash strapped Greek startups
COVID-19 is moving from a health crisis to an economic concern. No one can predict with certainty what the overall impact on the Greek economy will be, especially on the small businesses, the cafes, the restaurants and the ones working in hospitality. For the Greek startups this will be a particularly difficult time.Most of them are cash strapped and others are finding it even more challenging to raise the money they need to keep them going. To make things worse the majority of them are expected to see their revenues curtailed. At the same time THI is cancelling plans for the Athens Digital 2020 / Venture Fair event this summer which offered hope to many of them. To address this problem we could work on a mentorship program run and led by the New Leaders community. We could create a platform that will allow NLs to review and work with teams in Greece offering insights, connectivity and even access to the US market. This virtual bridging of the 2 worlds can be the first step for an even greater collaboration between the two communities.