The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese announced on August 24 that, following the launch of the Greece Fires Relief Fund, more than $750,000 has been raised to provide support and long-term assistance in the aftermath of the devastating fires, meeting the $200,000 matching grant, which was approved by the Leadership 100 Executive Committee on August 18.
More than $300,000 has been collected from individuals and parishes, including the online fundraising efforts. In addition, the Order of Saint Andrew Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate $50,000 matching gift was also met, and the Archdiocese is contributing $200,000 from available restricted funds.
His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros commented, “These past weeks have been filled with sorrow and pain as we have watched the fires in Greece consume so much of our beloved Motherland, and yet at the same time, the faithful of the Archdiocese have responded in an overwhelming measure. Today, as we are made aware of our current fundraising efforts, I call upon the entire Omogenia, the faithful, the parishes, the Philoptochos chapters, the youth groups, the schools, the regional federations and all our brothers and sisters to continue donating whatever you can, to help us reach at least $1 million, so that we can offer impactful assistance.”
In addition, IOCC, which has partnered with the Archdiocese to identify specific needs and distribute the funds collected, has deployed staff, following proper COVID-19 protocols, to begin the “needs assessment” in Attica and Evia, starting in Evia. IOCC staff are scheduling meetings with community leaders, impacted population, shelters, Church and government officials and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that are present in the effected regions, as well as several others.
The “needs assessment” process is expected to take approximately two weeks and is a critical part of the response, as it identifies vulnerable populations and points of contact for coordination, access and procurement. If the team discovers urgent needs during the assessment process, that will be prioritized for immediate review and consideration.
This crucial “needs assessment” will allow the Archdiocese and IOCC to better understand the context of the fires. The team will look at issues including, but not limited to categories and number of vulnerable groups impacted (elderly, persons with disabilities and others); existing assistance being provided by the government or other NGOs; security and safety issues that may impact access to service delivery; emergency shelter and transitional housing issues; and other basic needs related to agriculture, water, sanitation and nutrition.
Once finalized, the “needs assessment” results will shape Archdiocese and IOCC’s short-, medium- and long-term response to ensure quality programming and compliance with local and international humanitarian standards. In addition, the Archdiocese will continue to provide the faithful with updates both regarding the fundraising efforts as well as how the funds are being distributed.