NEW YORK – Philanthropic aid has flowed to needy people in Greece from within and from the Diaspora, but the leader in the efforts to help Greece and its people to survive and move forward is the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF).
On October 15 the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce (HACC), which presented SNF Co-President Andreas Dracopoulos with its person of the Year Award the following evening, hosted a screening of a the documentary “OUT HERE (Edo Exo)” depicting the Foundation’s contributions to the cause of Greek recovery on multiple levels.
SNF Director of Programs and Strategic Initiatives Stelios Vasilakis made a presentation and participated in a Q&A after the film, and the evening concluded with a catered reception.
Vasilakis summed up SNF’s efforts: “We try to help those most in need who are affected by the crisis,” adding the crucial caveat “our role is not to replace the State, but to complement it.”
Nancy Papaioannou, the president of HACC and of Atlantic Bank, told the audience “on behalf of the officers, the Board, and the members, I feel priviledged to welcome you,” and said Dracopoulos was “recognized for his distinguished and inspired leadership, especially in regard to his support of relief efforts during the crisis that has afflicted our beloved Greece.”
SNF’s Program and Public Affairs Officer Amalia Delicari introduced the movie. After thanking Papaioannou, HACC, and the guests she provided an overview of SNF and its work. “It is an international foundation that to date has made more than 3000 grants of more than 1.5 billion euro” in over 100 countries. “As part of our founders wishes, much of our work focuses on Greece,” she said.
As the toll on Greece’s people became severe, she said, “In 2012 the Board felt compelled to act, and acted in a significant way with an initiative of $100 million euro…to programs addressing shelter, hunger, medical care, and educational opportunities, among others.”
The documentary, which is as moving and inspiring as it was informative, was created after the completion of those activities at the initiative of SNF employees. “We wanted to show the program’s achievement by presenting the beneficiaries directly,” Ioanna Kiosse, who works in Athens and was very involved in the film, told TNH. Avion Films was the producer.
“Our efforts did not end with the completion of this initiative,” Delicari said. “In October 2013 an initiative of 100 million euro was begun to combat youth unemployment and in July of 2105…the Foundation’s Board approved another 100 million euro program, to be implemented within a year, which will continue to provide relief support in Greece.
The movie included information not only about the recipient organizations and the money they received, but also about extraordinary programs like the Mobile Medical Units that bring comprehensive medical care to 34 remote islands.
It was also emphasized that SNF seeks partners that prioritize both effectiveness and the dignity of the people it helps, especially the schoolchildren who receive food aid.
The expressions of appreciation from parents of children whose futures are being protected were especially touching, and viewers also heard from leaders and employees of the organizations that are providing vital relief, as well as SNF employees who shared their admiration for the people involved in the groups they carefully vet.
Vasilakis noted that while SNF always emphasized resourcefulness and cooperation of its grant recipients with other groups to make the most of the grants. In Greece, such cooperation is also valuable as model behavior that can stimulate further changes in mindsets that will enable Greece to move forward socially and economically.
It was also noted that groups SNF supports are also part of the phenomenon of the rise of volunteerism in Greece that is important for maintaining social solidarity.
One of the most striking initiatives involves Organization Earth, which provides basic farming and business knowledge to Greeks of all backgrounds who have returned to the countryside.
The segment on the assistance provided the Benaki Museum emphasized the importance of the cultural dimension, noting, “Culture is not a luxury, but a necessity,” for a healthy society and its future.
The Center for Talented Youth program of John’s Hopkins University enhances the education of Greece’s most gifted students, and SNF’s youth unemployment initiatives provides young adults with very valuable mentoring, coaching, and networking tips.
Vasilakis explained that unlike similar foundations, SNFs’ grant application process is open to all organizations that meet 501 c 3 criteria and that they can apply on line. SNF does not burden them with demands for lengthy reports that take time away from their philanthropic efforts.
SNF asks two basic questions: 1) does the project offer valuable service to society by helping other people, 2) are those involved the right people , morally, ethically and pragmatically.
Organizations around the world that meet 501 c 3 criteria are asked to submit short summaries of their projects and receive timely assessments. Only then are those likely to receive grants asked for more substantial documentation.
The For more information visit: www.snf.org.