National Philoptochos Projects
The Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society announces the National Philoptochos "Hits the Streets" nationwide HIV/AIDS 5 K Walkathon to be organized by Philoptochos Chapters by May 30, 2009.
At the 2008 National Philoptochos Biennial Convention held in Washington, D.C., the delegates overwhelmingly endorsed holding a nationwide HIV/AIDS Walkathon under the sponsorship of the National Philoptochos Society. Philoptochos Chapters nationwide will organize the HIV/AIDS Walkathon in cooperation with their Parishes and ministries.
The National Philoptochos Society provided immediate response and assistance to the victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, assisting a number of our Orthodox brothers and sisters with temporary housing expenses, as well as the purchasing of major necessary appliances, through our donation of $98,000 towards the Archdiocese Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief Fund. In the months following the disaster, additional funds in the amount of $45,000 were also forwarded to the Archdiocese Fund.
Despite this, entire families remained homeless, jobless and devoid of all their household possessions. The Adopt A Family project was instituted in response to this ongoing crisis in the Gulf Coast to provide assistance and renewed hope to the affected families. This voluntary project addressed the immediate, short, and long-term needs of primarily the Orthodox victims of the Gulf Coast tragedy. Eighty-nine participating Chapters from across the United States sponsored a family and a total of $173,964.00 was raised and disbursed in gift cards and checks to 146 families to cover the purchase of clothing, bedding, furniture, appliances, household items and books.
As a result of this effort, many Chapters developed ongoing relationships with their families and continue to assist them in rebuilding their lives.
At the 2004 National Convention, the Chapter Challenge was implemented as a way for Chapters to have the opportunity to develop a project from their initiative that would provide assistance, nuturing, and care to the recipents of their work. Two such projects were the Afghan Project and the Nouna Project.
The Afghan Project was initiated in support of the Warm Up America!(WUA!) organization. WUA! is comprised of volunteers who create afghan blankets to provide warmth and comfort to people who have lost their homes, fled abusive relationships, or who are being cared for in hospices, shelters, hospitals, and nursing homes. Volunteers knit and crochet 7" x 9" sections to be joined into afghans. These afghans are then donated to victims of natural disasters, battered women's shelters, the homeless, and others in need.
The Afghan Project is inclusive of the entire local Philoptochos membership. It is an opportunity to give back to the community-at-large with a "hands-on" approach. Members who are unable to attend Chapter meetings or serve on committees can contribute to the mission of Philoptochos through this effort. There are numerous ways to become involved. This is a wonderful and worthy way to involve a large portion of the Chapter membership.
November is recognized across the United States as National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month. The National Philoptochos Society encourages all local Chapters to provide educational programs within their parishes to raise awareness of Alzheimer's Disease. Recommendations for programs include hosting guest speakers, sponsoring a health fair, and distributing information to the community.
In November 2009, the National Philoptochos renewed its commitment to supporting our troops overseas. The New Philanthropic Initiatives committee continually researches organizations that provide assistance to those in the service, veterans, and their families here in the United States and abroad. We encourage Philoptochos Chapters to embrace one or more of these projects and exhibit support for our US troops and veterans.
In 2005, National Philoptochos presented a $35,000 donation from the Children's Medical Fund to International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) for a Children's Medical Clinic in Africa that was completed in July 2007 in Woliso, Ethiopia in the Western Highlands.
The construction was funded by the Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society and a group of private donors. The residents of Woliso now receive modern medical care along with preventive medicine. IOCC Head of Office, Thomas Kivlan, stated, "We are expecting this clinic to receive hundreds of patients every day because the clinic will mean access to medical assistance for people - particularly children - who have no acess to basic medical problems.
Bishop Andonios of Phasiane, who serves as advisor to the National Philoptochos and Director of the Department of Philanthropy at the Archdiocese, traveled to Ethiopia in 2005 and saw firsthand IOCC's extensive USAID-funded program to educate Ethopians in the prevention of HIV/AIDS. His Grace inspired the Philoptochos to extend its good works to the African continent to meet the great need that exists there for education and prevention. At the completion of the new clinic, His Grace stated, "I hope that this will be the first of many projects we do on the African continent."
In 2007, from the highly successful Children's Medical Fund Luncheon, a donation earmarked for the Parktown Medical Clinic was made to IOCC, for its work with the Clinic in the Archdiocese of Zimbabwe, which provides medical services for children.
Philoptochos Chapters across the country are encouraged to particiapate in the Dress for Success effort. Dress for Success is a not-for-profit organization that helps low-income women make tailored tranisitions to the workforce. Each Dress for Success client receives one suit when she has a job interview and a secon suit when she obtains a job. Women are referred to Dress for Success by government agencies, shelters, immigration services, and job training programs. Dress for Success accepts donations of interview-appropriate suits, blazers, blouses, and shoes. Donations can be forwarded to any of the 60 Dress for Success affiliates throughout the United States.
Inspired by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew who is known as the Green Patriarch throughout the world, the National Philoptochos Environment Responsibility Committee was established in January of 2010 to promote awareness of our members to their relationship with their environment. The environment is a work of God, and we must act responsibly to protect the Earth’s natural resources. To promote our Patriarch’s message, the committee sends a bimonthly communication of “Green Tips” which help sustain the environment to the chapter presidents and members by email.
Along with the bimonthly communication of “Green Tips”, the committee continues to challenge each chapter to initiate and implement the recycling project, Be Responsible, Go Green and Get Green which was introduced at the Atlanta Convention in 2010. The committee recommends the company, Recycling Fundraiser at www.recyclingfundraiser.com. The company recycles small electronics such as cell phones and ink jet printer cartridges. There is no cost to the chapter, and the recommended company even pays for postage for you to send the recyclable items to them for reimbursement. Let us work together to sustain the environment, and at the same time earn money for those in need.
Click here for the guidelines to implement the initiative Be Responsible, Go Green and Get Green.
In November 2005, Philoptochos Chapters throughout the United States participated in Family Outreach Sunday, a program of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Department of Outreach and Evangelism. This noteworthy program was wholeheartedly endorsed and supported by the National Philoptochos, as a means to encourage inactive family members and Orthodox friends to participate in a special day of Orthodox fellowship. Family Outreach Sunday takes place each year in November.
The National Philoptochos Cardiac Committee established the National Philoptochos Heart Health Awareness Program to promote awareness of the American Heart Association's GO RED CAMPAIGN. Across America, the red dress is instantly recognized as a symbol of women's empowerment to improve their heart health. The first Sunday in February has been designated nationally as "GO RED SUNDAY". All Philoptochos members across the country are encouraged to wear red to church as a symbol of support for this program and to promote awareness of heart disease in women.
September is National Preparedness Month. In keeping with this initiative, the National Philoptochos Society encourages all local Chapters to distribute within their parishes the Emergency Preparedness Kits prepared by IOCC and FEMA. The Emergency Kits address both physical needs and financial issues. In addition to a list of emergeny supplies to keep on hand (food, water, flashlights, etc.), the kits provide a list of personal financial information and legal documents to keep on hand in a safe place in case of emergency. All information and documents in this Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK) should be copied and maintained off-site in a safety deposit box.
In 2005, the National Philoptochos Society initiated the "Gifts of the Heart" project in cooperation with International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) to aid the people devastated by the Asian earthquake and tsunami catastrophes.
Philoptochos Chapters throughout the United States packaged basic necessities in one-gallon plastic zip-lock bags. The items included a hand towel and washcloth, comb, nail file, or clippers, bar of soap, toothpaste and toothbrush, band-aids, paper, pencils, etc. These Health Kits make a tremendous difference to the victimes of the disaster. The Chapters packed the kits in shipping boxes and forwarded them to IOCC/Church World Service for distribution to the victims.
The Literacy Outreach Program is designed to be an ongoing project that will promote literacy for children and adults through a "hands-on" program appropriate for all Philoptochos chapters. Goals of the Literacy Outreach Program:
- To promote motivation, success and enjoyment of reading and oral communication for school age children.
- To increase the self-esteem of students participating in the program
- To offer meaningful volunteer opportunities for Philoptochos members and others within our Greek Orthodox church communities
- To strengthen the ties between generations by providing opportunities for adult tutors and young children to bond through additional instruction, support and encouragement
National Philoptochos launched the Philoptochos Literacy Outreach Program in 2005 with the objective to promote literacy through a hands-on approach targeting both children and adults. National Philoptochos President Aphrodite Skeadas and Literacy Co-Chairmen Pam Argyris and Irene Arsoniadis are pleased to announce a new literacy awareness initiative, “Make A Difference with Loukoumi & Philoptochos.”
The Nouna Project is the second project that was implemented as a result of the Chapter Challenge. The Nouna Project was initiated in support of the Fairygodmother Foundation, which grants wishes to terminally ill adults, with less than a year to live. The Fairygodmother Foundation helps patients and their families create important memories that will ease the pain of their loss.
All Philoptochos Chapters are encouraged to contribute to this worthy cause. The Fairygodmother Foundation accepts monetary donations, as well as in-kind donations of goods and services, for example, air miles.
In the spirit of the mission of the Philoptochos Society, which encourages the perpetuation and the promotion of our Orthodox faith and traditions, the National Philoptochos supports the Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF), which was established through the Department of Youth Ministry of the Archdiocese. Orthodox Christian Fellowship is a group of people on a university or college campus who come together for fellowship, to learn more about the Orthodox faith, and to maintain their bonds to the Church. OCF has been called a "lifeline" for students, providing them with opportunities to stay connected with, and to grow in, the faith. The OCF is partnering with the National Philoptochos to help our students stay connected to the Church by utilizing the "Connect Kit."
This collection of essentials includes a New Testament, icons, Orthodox prayer books, books on the Orthodox faith, and other resources. The National Philoptochos has been instrumental in raising awareness of this resource, through promotion and sponsorship within our Chapters
In January 2011, the National Philoptochos Board proposed a new program for adoption by Chapters throughout the United States, the Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry. OCPM (a 501(C) (3) non-profit organization) was chartered in 2005 and is one of seven official agencies of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America (formerly SCOBA). OCPM explains, “If the Church is the hospital of the soul, people in prison are very often the critical cases. Each year thousands of families are scarred and torn apart by the incarceration of a parent, spouse or child. These families need the love of Christ just as much as the person incarcerated. OCPM has ministered to approximately 1,000 men and women, who are currently in prison or are former prisoners, many of whom have embraced the Orthodox faith. Many of these men and women have been released from prison and are now living productive, Christ-centered lives.
Many Philoptochos Chapters have initiated prison visitation programs in their local areas. Chapters that are unable to start such a program can also assist this worthy ministry by making a donation to support the work of OCPM.
Click here for more information on the Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry.
As we embarked on the twenty-first century, the National Philoptochos established a goal to extend the outreach of Philoptochos beyond the boundaries of the Greek Orthodox community, by incorporating new programs that have a further global reach and which will serve humankind in a greater and broader scope. In keeping with this goal, the National Philoptochos established the Wheelchair Project. Through the generosity of our Chapters, the Society produced two containers, each with 280 wheelchairs. These containers were delivered to 280 people in the Republic of Georgia and 280 people in Thessaloniki, Greece. In addition, funds collected from the Chapters provided vocational training for the 560 individuals who received these wheelchairs. In 2007, Philoptochos provided funding for the transportation from the U.S.A. to Zimbabwe of pediatric wheelchairs, mobility devices, and other durable medical equipment for over 200 children. This project provided the gift of mobility, restoring dignity, hope and quality of life to the recipients.
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