Olympic ‘dowry’ welcomed at state foundations in need of new fittings

Thousands of people living at welfare foundations around the country are benefiting from a legacy left by the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Hundreds of foundations now boast new furniture used in accommodation for athletes at the Olympic Village. The Ministry for Health and Social Solidarity managed to acquire the lion’s share of the furnishings and equipment to provide a better standard of accommodation at state institutions. According to the ministry’s general secretary for social solidarity, Ioanna Despotopoulou, the value of Olympic Village furnishings is over 30 million euros. Olympic Properties SA, by order of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and following a proposal submitted by the general secretariat, decided to distribute most of the furnishings to improve living conditions at the foundations. Last September, the ministry set up a register of the foundations’ needs. «At most of the foundations, beds were of a very basic standard, the mattresses old and the sheets worn. Many of the buildings themselves are substandard. A major request was for cupboards.» Distribution was completed in December to 212 foundations. Furnishings included 12,000 beds, 11,500 mattresses, 15,000 pillows, 4,000 cupboards, 11,000 dressing tables, 1,000 desks, 4,000 mirrors, 11,800 lights, 80,000 sheets, another 80,000 towels and 27,000 blankets. Electrical appliances included 210 washing machines, 250 driers, 950 refrigerators, 40 freezers, 250 air-conditioning units, 1,000 electric kettles,125 ice machines and 1,600 television sets. Foundations for the disabled received 270 wheelchairs and 200 physiotherapy beds. «Last December, we visited the Ioannina Center for Girls, home to 37 girls aged 10-17 who have either been abandoned by their parents, abused or else removed from homes where their welfare was considered to be in danger. They were all ecstatic about their new furniture and wanted to know which Olympic champions had been sleeping in their beds,» said Despotopoulou. Naturally, these children’s needs are not restricted to home furnishings. According to Despotopoulou, there is a need for clothing and contact with the outside world so that when they leave the foundation at the age of 18, they know how to protect themselves. «Society has a role to play here, for example in the form of associations that undertake to accompany them out for a drive, to the cinema, shopping or to visit them at the foundation,» she suggested. Meanwhile, the distribution of the Olympic dowry continues with the delivery of furniture to refugee centers. The general secretariat has also requested about 120 vehicles used during the Games to be handed over to foundations and to municipalities for the «Home Help» program.