The creation of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), 25 years ago, is one of the greatest events in our recent history. It is not a historical event in the usual sense of the word, marking crises, disasters, wars. It is a positive historical event. An event that contributed to the upgrading of our cultural life, to the improvement of health services, to the relief of the weakest among us. It is an unprecedented institution in many ways. An institution that has nothing to do with the state or government. An institution that asks for nothing in return – all it wants to do is contribute.
The Foundation’s establishment was the wish of renowned businessman Stavros Niarchos, who generously financed it, which is now run by his nephew, Andreas K. Dracopoulos.
Mr. Dracopoulos had worked alongside Niarchos for a number of years. Niarchos, a highly intelligent man, realized that his nephew was no ordinary person. He appreciated his character, hard work-ethic, dedication, and intelligence, and when the time came, he chose him to head the institution that bears his name. It was one of the best decisions of his life.
The SNF was founded in 1996, after the death of Stavros Niarchos, and within a few years, jumped to the top of the list of international charities. It has the necessary capital, but also, if not more important, the inspiring, dynamic leadership of Andreas Dracopoulos, who made it stand out among the most important charities in the United States, and therefore, in the world.
Innovative, visionary donations based on meritocratic criteria in an atmosphere of full transparency made the SNF an example to be imitated and one that other major institutions seek to work with. The scope of its donations is international; however, the largest percentage of donations have been made in Greece. The largest donation made so far, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Athens, is the most important public project in Greek history after the Parthenon. It is a national treasure, the jewel in the cultural crown of modern Greece.
It is a project that SNF continues to fund, even after it was turned over to the State, as it continues to finance pioneering events, whose attendance in 2019 reached 6.3 million people!
SNF’s donations in the field of health have been revolutionary: establishing hospitals - which were desperately needed - that possess the latest technology and present unrivaled aesthetics in places such as Komotini, Thessaloniki, Sparta.
Think of the international honor and recognition that the Foundation brings to Hellenism and Greece. Think of the vitally needed mindsets of excellence, transparency, meritocracy that it teaches.
For all these reasons, and many more, the 25th anniversary of its founding offers the opportunity to Greece and Hellenism to perform an act that honors it. To establish ‘SNF Day.’ A day when the Foundation will be recognized with events and speeches in schools, with visits to the places to which it has donated. A day that culminates with a grand finale in Athens. A day that will present examples to be imitated by our youth.
The 25th anniversary of its foundation is an opportunity for the SNF to be honored by the Municipality of Athens with a statue in the city centre, expressing the gratitude of the people to their greatest modern benefactor. ‘SNF Day,’ along with a statue, are not needed by the modest Andreas Dracopoulos and the SNF. The rest of us need them to remind us of their hard work and how lucky Greece is to have them. Of course, the fact that both Niarchos and Dracopoulos are expatriates gives them even greater importance, at least to us. They are the successors, in a new, unmatched form, of the great benefactors of our Nation whose names grace avenues, squares and buildings all over Greece. They are the people and patriots who earned their fortunes abroad, but who never forgot their national origin and Greece. Nor their debt to their fellow human beings.