As US Ambassador Daniel V. Speckhard said while congratulating the American Women?s Organization in Greece on its 60-year anniversary in 2008, AWOG plays a ?significant role in serving as a bridge between the United States and Greece.?
US Secretary of State General George Marshall himself saw the same in the organization six decades earlier. AWOG founder Mrs Henry F. Grady, wife of the then-US ambassador to Greece, had informed Marshall of her plan to begin a study group for American women when the US secretary of state was in Greece the summer of 1948. According to the AWOG 1954 yearbook, General Marshall ?was quick to realize the tremendous possibilities that existed for American women living overseas to act as ?ambassadors of good will?? specifically in uniting ?the women of the American community for the purpose of supporting the nonpolitical, nonprofit organizations working for the benefit of Greece.?
The wife of each serving US ambassador to Greece continues to hold the title of AWOG honorary president. While offering a wider set of benefits to members today, AWOG?s mission remains the same. Its central aims are to be both a resource for Greek-based American women as well as a channel for them to donate time and effort to Greek charitable causes.
Community service is an integral part of AWOG. Just a few of the many institutions and organizations to receive donations from AWOG include the Aetoi Association of Greek Wheelchair Basketball Players in Elefsina, the Friends of the Aghioi Anargyroi Cancer Hospital, the American Farm School of Thessaloniki, the Girokomeio Moschatou home for the elderly and the Pammakaristos School for Special Education.
AWOG, open to any woman in Greece who is an American citizen or married to an American citizen, currently has around 320 members. Women of other nationalities can also be welcomed into AWOG as affiliates.
AWOG ?can be different things to different people,? as one member, Grace, puts it. The organization?s president in 2007-8, Nora, wrote that ?there?s something for everyone… groups for mothers and working women, community needs assessment and service funding, fundraising, even organization, fine arts tours, trips and coffee mornings.?
Location-wise, AWOG has subgroups in different areas of Athens. Being part of AWOG also means membership in a global network: the Federation of American Women?s Clubs Overseas (FAWCO), founded in 1931 and recognized as an NGO with special consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council.
FAWCO gives member clubs an ?international network,? says Grace, who has been AWOG?s FAWCO rep since 2003. AWOG, for instance, has been involved in FAWCO?s Global Concerns Fund: Malaria Project.
If members see a Greek philanthropic project that is in need of funds, FAWCO is able to give grants to programs suggested by its member clubs. (In 2008, AWOG proposed the Caritas Athens? Food for Refugees Program, resulting in a $3,500 development grant.) FAWCO also grants academic scholarships to both members and their children.
?Many children of AWOG members go to Greek schools,? explained Grace when she highlighted the American Culture