Jim Hanson (left) is spending a sabbatical from the University of Maryland to examine 35 IOCC agricultural programs to determine which ones have had the most long term success. Dean, a student from Minneapolis, volunteered with IOCC to build new homes for Katrina survivors in Covington, Louisiana.
From the Executive Director
When war broke out in Georgia last summer, young students volunteered to assemble and deliver thousands of emergency food and hygiene kits to the families who had been displaced by the conflict. What is even more gratifying is that these were the same young people who were involved in IOCC’s Healthy Lifestyles program. Funded by the US government and in partnership with the Georgian Orthodox Church, the program helps students prevent drug abuse by promoting alternative activities such as the arts, sports and social service.
Those who give of themselves voluntarily have been the heroes of IOCC. Across our organization’s programs in 17 different countries, you will find volunteers leaving their mark in many different capacities. From those volunteering a week in the spring or summer to build homes on the Gulf Coast, to the Frontline Fathers providing trauma counseling and pastoral services in flood-stricken Iowa, to educators spending their sabbaticals in Kosovo, our volunteers know a timeless truth: giving yourself for the good of others is the essence of our Christian faith. When we volunteer to help others, we are touching something truly sacred and central.
As you prepare for the Feast of the Nativity, I invite you to meditate on the voluntary coming of our Savior who did not “cease to do everything” for us. Please consider making a tax-deductible year-end gift to IOCC. As always, we promise to do everything we can to touch those who need us the most.
Constantine M. Triantafilou
Executive Director and CEO
His Grace Bishop Irinej recently traveled to the U.S. from his diocese of Australia and New Zealand to rally support for IOCC with which he has had a long and special association. “I’m letting people know the daily reality for children in Kosovo is to go to school under armed escort,” said the Serbian American bishop who is originally from Ohio and who once served as Director of the Office of External Affairs for the Serbian Orthodox Church in Washington, DC. “We must be that ray of hope for those children even in the simplest provision of school books and school kits,” he told audiences in Seattle, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Detroit, and Steelton, Pennsylvania. IOCC announced recently that every gift made to Kosovo would be matched up to $100,000 through the generosity of Bishop Irinej and The John G. Rangos Sr. Family Charitable Foundation.
Having assisted Iraqi refugees in Syria with four very successful programs, IOCC recently launched a new program to assist Iraqi refugees who are living in Jordan. The goal of the project, funded by Action by Churches Together (ACT) International, is to address the psychosocial and economic needs of Iraqi refugee children and women living in Jordan. Activities will include art and drama therapy to reduce the lasting effects that displacement and migration will have on Iraqi refugee children. Vocational training will also be provided in the areas of computer literacy, hairstyling, sewing and handicrafts. Emphasis will be placed on providing training to female Iraqi refugees who are disproportionately underrepresented in the Jordanian workforce. These women also represent a large number of single-headed households.
U.S. Ambassador to Greece Daniel Speckhard (right) at a ceremony marking the delivery of 255 fire shelters that provide increased protection for fire fighters. Three Peloponnese fire fighters lost their lives last year due to entrapment situations. IOCC provided the fire shelters through a grant by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. (photo credit: D. Katsivelaki/IOCC Greece)
American Ambassador to Greece Daniel Speckhard was recently on hand for a special service marking the arrival of 255 fire shelters to the Fire Department of Pyrgos. Theodoros Kotsonis, the Commander of the Fire Department of Ilia, thanked the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and IOCC for providing the fire shelters that protect fire fighters from radiant and convective heat in entrapment situations. “If our firemen had fire shelters last year they might have been alive today,” said Kotsonis, referring to the three fire fighters from Pyrgos who perished during the 2007 wildfires. Others on hand for the ceremony included local clergy, members of Parliament, the Prefect of Ilia, mayors from throughout the Province of Ilia and a number of fire fighters. Since 2007, IOCC has assisted the Peloponnese with a variety of aid including 3,100 tons of animal feed as well as 60 tons of seed.
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