SolidarityNow, tasked with the mission to support the most vulnerable members of our society without discrimination and with faith in the value and power of solidarity, celebrated on Monday 23-January, it’s 10-year continuous contribution to the Greek society, according to organization’s press release.
The event , “10 years of Solidarity in Action”, took place at the Athens Concert Hall, which was in full capacity. The organisation was honored by the presence of distinguished guests from the intellectual, political, and business world of Greece, as well as representatives of international and local organizations that are longstanding partners of SolidarityNow.
On an evening full of emotion and excitement, the story of SolidarityNow unfolded, an organization that took its first steps back in in 2013 with a vision to support the most vulnerable members of our society, and in ten years of operation counts more than 1,500 employees and 500 volunteers across the country who put solidarity into practice. Ten years afterward SolidarityNow has evolved into a living charity with measurable results for more than 350,000 people, vulnerable Greeks, unemployed, homeless, women, single-parent families, refugees, migrants, victims of gender-based violence, victims of torture, Roma children and youth, people from the LGBTI community and others. To date, 98,000 people have benefited from Solidarity Centers, 6,500 asylum seekers have temporarily settled in independent homes, buildings, structures, and families in Greece, 21,000 children have received child protection services, whilst last year alone, around 5,000 children were supported to reintegrate into education or received remedial teaching.
The event about SolidarityNow’s journey into this decade was coordinated by journalist Ms. Niki Lymperaki. In the beginning, Mr. Stelios Zavvos, Chairman and Founder of SolidarityNow, welcomed the audience and spoke about the vision and work of the organization since its establishment. Introducing the next day, he stressed: “SolidarityNow is not a static organization, it goes along with society, listens to its needs, and evolves accordingly. At the beginning of our second decade, we are starting a new course, dynamic, but with our values as a constant compass. Join us, so that together we can become a catalyst for a better Greek society. Let’s all come together to continue this wonderful human endeavor.” The speakers then presented SolidarityNow’s multifaceted work, implemented in collaboration with the State, international organizations, foundations, businesses, and private donors.
During the first panel titled “Facing the challenges of today”, the members of the Board of Directors of SolidarityNow, Mr. Nikos Alivizatos– Lawyer, Emeritus Professor of Constitutional Law at the Athens School of Law, Mr. Nikiforos Diamantouros-Academic and first Ombudsman of Greece, Mr. Christos Rozakis-Professor Emeritus of the University of Athens and Vice President of the European Court of Human Rights, set the theoretical background on which the 10-year course of the organization has been based, responding effectively and directly to the pressing social issues of our time.
This was followed by the speech of Mr. Efthymios Vidalis, Vice President of SolidarityNow, who spoke about transparency and proper management of resources, which lie at the heart of the organization’s operation.
In the second panel entitled “Civil Society and its role in addressing the needs of Greek society”, Ms. Sofia Voultepsi – Deputy Minister for Migration and Asylum, Ms. Domna Michailidou-Deputy Minister for Labour and Social Affairs, Mr. Kostas Bakoyannis, Mayor of Athens and Mr. Yiannis Boutaris, Member of the Board of Directors of SolidarityNow and former Mayor of Thessaloniki, highlighted the importance of Civil Society in strengthening the state’s efforts to provide tangible support to all those in need.
During the third panel titled “The importance of international cooperation in enhancing the impact of Civil Society interventions”, the following speakers participated,: Mr. Gianluca Rocco, IOM Greece Chief of Mission & Regional Response Coordinator, Lajla Brandt Jakhelln– Ambassador of Norway to Greece, Maria Clara Martin – UNHCR Representative in Greece, Dr. Jennifer Cavounidis -Member of the Board of Directors of SolidarityNow, Sociologist, Academic, and pointed out that the only way to have a substantial impact on the lives of people in need is the cooperation of international bodies with organizations, while they also spoke about the social and economic benefits of immigration for host countries, like Greece.
This was followed by a brief statement by Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, who congratulated SolidarityNow on their great work, emphasized the need to continue dynamically where systems fail, and apply practical wisdom to find solutions to social challenges.
The great celebration was enriched with images and video footage bearing the signature of SolidarityNow’s 10-year operation, reflecting the pride of its people, the dignity and strength of the soul of its beneficiaries, and the commitment to the continuity of the organization.
The event evolved into an evening full of music and emotion, through the songs of singer Eleni Arapoglou and Nova Opera, refugee musicians from the Ukraine.
In closing of the event, staff, volunteers and members of the board, sang in unity the song “Imagine” by John Lenon, providing an emotional close to the wonderful evening and setting off a promise to continue their efforts to provide for those in need, with solidarity nd strive for a better world.
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