- Adopt A Family
- Afghan Project
- Aid to Greece and Cyprus
- Alzheimer's Awareness Month
- Assistance for our Troops and Veterans
- Children's Medical Clinics in Africa
- Disaster Relief
- Dress for Success
- Educational Initiatives - [a] "Be Safe - Be Smart" - Investigating Technology Safety in the Computer Age [b] Inclusion Ministry [c] Stop Bullying in Your Community [d] Women's Health Initiative [e] Alzheimer’s Disease: Awareness, Understanding, Support and Care
- Environmental Responsibility
- Family Outreach Sunday
- Feed the Hungry
- HIV/AIDS Walkathon
- Human Trafficking
- IOCC Emergency Preparedness Kits
- IOCC Health Kits
- Literacy Outreach Program
- Make a Difference with Philoptochos
- Nouna Project
- One Warm Coat
- Orthodox Christian Fellowship Connect Kits
- The Wheelchair Project
- Wishing Trees
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.
The impact of the European economic crisis has severely affected Greece and now Cyprus. The crisis is expanding and deepening, affecting all sectors of society. Both countries require humanitarian aid and the need increases daily.
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 Summer 2016, National President Maria Logus met a young soldier who had just returned from overseas. After learning about his experiences, she inquired about the needs of active service members. His response was immediate and simple – prepaid phone cards.
One of the greatest gifts you can give a service man or woman far from home is the ability to say, “I love you” to a spouse, child or parent. The United Service Operation (USO) delivers pre-paid phone cards to deployed troops free of charge.
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. Please click on “additional information” below for details on the Phone Calls Home project, as well as additional suggestions for helping our troops overseas and our veterans who have returned home.
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.
The National Philoptochos Society provides first response assistance to victims throughout the world. Victims of Hurricane Katrina, 911, the Asian Tsunami, the earthquake in Haiti, the fires in California, the floods in the Midwest, the typhoon in the Philippines and more have benefited from assistance provided through the National Philoptochos Emergency Fund.
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.
"Be Safe - Be Smart" -
Investigating Technology Safety in the Computer Age
Telephone scammers, computer hackers, internet predators, identity theft and social media misuse have unfortunately become rampant problems. According to Bankrate.com, in a recent survey, about 41 million Americans have been victims of identity theft. These issues cannot to be taken lightly. All ages are vulnerable, but seniors living alone are especially so.
Many parishioners may have experienced these problems. How do you respond to a frightening telephone call or prevent a terrible experience? How can loved ones be prepared? As Philoptochos leaders, we can provide valuable services to members and parishioners by inviting a professional in the field to present a program for a chapter meeting or community event.
A few credible organizations that provide speakers at no cost include your local Better Business Bureau or local police department. One chapter had a safety instructor from their local police department come and speak early in the holiday shopping season. The room was packed with Philoptochos members, parishioners & guests.
Children with special needs hold a special place in our hearts. They must be protected and cherished, encouraged and included. Yet having them in a church community presents challenges. The Metropolis of Chicago, with the blessing and support of His Eminence Metopolitan Iakovos, of Blessed Memory, and under the leadership of Presvytera Toni Mihalopoulos, developed “Pick Up Your Cross and Follow Me,” a ministry of programs for children with special needs and their families.
Stop Bullying in Your Community
It can happen anywhere, cities, suburbs or rural towns depending on the environment.
Repetitive actions, power imbalance and intentional acts are the three main components causing verbal, physical and relational types of harmful behavior among our youth.
It is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated over time. Both children who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.
Some people dismiss bullying among children as a normal part of growing up, but bullying is harmful. It can lead children and teenagers to feel tense and afraid. It may lead them to avoid school, and in severe cases, teens who are bullied may feel they need to take drastic measures, react violently, or even consider suicide. The effects of bullying last a lifetime.
Parents, school staff, youth advisors and other adults in the community can help GOYAns, teens in the 7th through 12th grades, prevent bullying by talking about it, building a safe school and church environment, and creating a community-wide bullying prevention strategy.
The Stop Bullying In Your Community program and curriculum is a collection of videos and PowerPoint presentations. They are provided below and are designed to be used in chronological order. The Activities under Resources can be used, as desired, to reinforce the PowerPoint presentation. The curriculum culminates with the video I See That and It’s NOT Okay where students can upload anti-bullying emojis to their smart phones in order to send them to offenders via text messaging. We hope that this program will be of benefit and will help to eradicate bullying in your community.
Women's Health Initiative
The mission of the Women’s Health Initiative is to focus on critical health issues facing women today. As such, the first educational initiative focuses on the leading cause of death among women in the US – heart disease. The committee has gathered educational information from premier health organizations, including the CDC, American Heart Association, Mayo Clinic, and educational institutions. These articles will provide our membership and chapters with health and educational information to assist them in becoming more informed and aware health care consumers.
Alzheimer’s Disease: Awareness, Understanding, Support and Care
The mission of our Philanthropic Initiative for Alzheimer’s Disease is to promote awareness regarding the many facets of this disease as well as to help those individuals afflicted by this terrifying disease and those that love and care for them. Of the top 10 causes of death in America, Alzheimer’s is the only disease without any effective treatment or cure. The committee has gathered educational information from organizations, such as the Alzheimer’s Association, the Bright Focus Foundation, and the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement founded by Maria Shriver, as well as collected materials from books, videos, and websites. It is our goal that all of this information will assist our community in caring for their loved ones with Alzheimer’s Disease, who cannot advocate for themselves. We hope a cure will soon be found for this tragic disease.
Inspired by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew who is known as the Green Patriarch throughout the world, the National Philoptochos Environment Responsibility Committee promotes awareness of its members to their relationship with the environment. The environment is a work of God, and we must act responsibly to protect the Earth’s natural resources. To promote the Patriarch’s message, the committee features a bimonthly communication of “Green Tips” which help sustain the environment on the Philoptochos website. The Philanthropy Witness provides a direct link to all communications and a permanent link is housed on the Philoptochos Facebook page.
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.
National Philoptochos President, Maria Logus, challenged all chapters across the United States to provide a total of 250,000 meals in the months leading up to the July 2016 National Convention. Working as a team, the women of Philoptochos tripled the original goal! Now President Logus has set the challenge to one million meals by July 2018!
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.
For the past several years, our National Philoptochos has been very interested in helping victims of human trafficking, as well as those who are homeless that are often part of the same group. Now we are taking all the knowledge that we have obtained and will be putting our motivation and ideas into action. Our National Philoptochos New Philanthropic Initiatives Committee has obtained information about various agencies, within each Metropolis, which assist these vulnerable youth and placed this information here on our website. By utilizing our website, Philoptochos members will obtain information regarding specific agencies, along with their contact information, and recommendations as to how chapters and members can assist these agencies in having an impact on helping these victims. So far, we have found that many of these agencies feel that we can offer them assistance by providing these youth with basic necessities such as toiletry kits, clothing, backpacks, school kits, holiday gifts, and food. When these youth come to an agency, they usually have nothing or very little. Our gifts can offer them a hopeful, new beginning.
For Links to Agency Information by Metropolis, Agency Form and information from the 2014 and 2016 National Philoptochos Biennial Conventions, click here
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
At its May 2015 meeting, the National Board adopted a cross-generational initiative to honor His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios on the occasion of his Nameday on October 26. In conjunction with Make a Difference Day, which occurs each year in late October, chapters across the US were encouraged to sponsor projects involving the children in their parishes in “acts of kindness” in order to teach our youth about giving back to their communities and to directly involve them in philanthropy.
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.
One Warm Coat
The One Warm Coat campaign is a project for the holidays and throughout the winter season. National Philoptochos has partnered with One Warm Coat, a San Francisco based organization that facilitates the distribution of coats to the needy and unfortunate. Chapters conduct a coat drive to collect gently used and cleaned coats and jackets and then take them to a drop off location in their local area for distribution.
One Warm Coat will help chapters organize a coat drive. Free tools including banners, flyers, a thermometer for your goal, thank you letters, etc. are available once the chapter registers at onewarmcoat.org. Finally, they will provide a list of distribution centers within a specific zip code where chapters can drop off the coats.
Click here for the announcement letter of the project with more details.
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.
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.
The Philoptochos Wishing Tree Initiative is a way we can remember those in need and offer them a tangible gift of our love at Christmastime, much as the Magi did with the Christ child. Homeless shelters, nursing homes, and foster care programs are just a few of the agencies that could benefit from a “Wishing Tree.”
Philoptochos Chapters are encouraged to choose an organization or charity within your community and “adopt” it for Christmas. This may be a new charity or one you already have a relationship with. Once you have chosen the agency and developed a list, of needs and wants, make ornaments with the “wishes” listed and decorate a tree with them for your church. This is a wonderful opportunity to involve the youth groups, Sunday school and even the entire parish to participate and learn that it is better to give than to receive.