Greek America Foundation launches relief drive

Project Hope for Greece is a new initiative launched by the Chicago-based Greek America Foundation in response to the hardship faced by crisis-hit Greeks.

The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness and funds in support of charities and nonprofit groups on the front line of the crisis in Greece. The funding is to be directed toward groups working with the homeless – it is estimated that there are 20,000 people without a permanent residence in Greece right now – as well as with the unemployed, whose percentage has soared near 26 percent, according to recent data.

Gregory Pappas, founder and chairman of the Greek America Foundation, as well as of The Pappas Post, stresses the need for the diaspora to contribute to social relief in Greece.

“Greece is under threat. And by extension, anything Greek is too – including our own Greekness,” says Pappas. “No matter how safe we feel and how comfortable our existence is in our churches, our communities and our various organizations and causes – we cannot be Greek by convenience. We shouldn't ‘use’ our Greekness just to sell a souvlaki or a piece of moussaka at a festival.”

The goal is to enlist 300 people or organizations to become Ambassadors of Hope and host small dinners, cocktail parties or receptions that will raise a minimum of $1,000 apiece.

“Our parents and grandparents came to the New World in search of a better life, in search of education, for something better,” says Pappas.

“It was hope that was their driving force and it is because they believed in hope that we are here today, living successful lives and doing what we do. We owe it to our family and friends in our ancestral homeland to give back some of that hope now, more than ever.”

This year's fundraising effort will culminate at the 2013 Gabby Awards in Hollywood, which will be branded the “Gabby Awards for Greece.” The Gabby Awards are an annual event organized by the Greek America Foundation to honor outstanding achievements among the Greek-American community.