Humanitarian Agency Expands Programs Aimed at Boosting Economic Opportunity

Baltimore, Md. (July 16, 2019) – With an eye to expanding its successful initiatives of recent years, International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) has renewed its far-reaching Give for Greece program, including a pilot program in vocational training.

Since 2013, Give for Greece has been IOCC’s flagship initiative in that country, addressing both immediate and longer-term needs brought on by Greece’s slow-moving economic crisis, which has affected livelihoods, pensions, and employment levels. In partnership with Apostoli, the philanthropic organization of the Archdiocese of Athens under the Church of Greece, IOCC has reached tens of thousands of people affected by the economic downturn and the simultaneous refugee crisis. Response has comprised in-kind support (e.g., medical supplies to hospitals) worth over $30 million since 2012, which helped leverage additional monetary backing worth over $13 million from individuals and institutions—including generous gifts to IOCC from the Jaharis Family Foundation Inc.; the John L. Santikos Foundation, a fund of the San Antonio Area Foundation; the Order of AHEPA; and the Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society.

Boosting the productivity and profitability of agricultural associations and small businesses throughout Greece has been an important focus of IOCC’s work. Since 2015, more than 80 associations and microbusinesses (over 3,000 families) have participated in Give for Greece and received equipment and training. IOCC has provided more than 265 pieces of new production equipment valued at more than $1.3 million and technical services worth $40,000 to help recipients scale up production and improve economic viability.

In 2017, IOCC added business mentoring to the program, connecting participants with experienced professionals who volunteer through KEMEL, a Greek nonprofit dedicated to supporting businesses. The mentors help small enterprises create stronger business plans, improve productivity and marketing, and increase the businesses’ sustainability.

“You woke us up from dreaming about success and helped us … take real actions,” said Athina, a small-business owner in Athens who participated in the business-mentoring program.

The newest phase of Give for Greece adds a pilot program in vocational training to prepare Greek and asylum-seeker participants who meet certain language criteria to work in the growing caregiving sector. Participants will complete train in both theory and practice with a certified trainer in this field, learning skills they need to enter the caregiving profession. Once they’ve completed the curriculum, trainees will be placed in workplaces and matched with healthcare professionals who will also receive training in how to work with novices (“training of trainers”). In all, the project offers training and practical experience in an in-demand profession.

IOCC’s history in Greece begins with the Athens field office, a regional hub 1993–2009. Since 2012, IOCC has worked closely with Apostoli, responding to the extensive financial crisis with more than $43 million in monetary and in-kind support. Other IOCC assistance to Greece includes prepaid grocery cards so families can shop for Greek-produced food, including vegetables, fruit, dairy, and chicken. IOCC has also offered aid to refugees and migrants arriving in Greece since 2015, addressing emergency needs in shelters on islands and the mainland. In addition to Give for Greece, IOCC responded with emergency assistance after the wildfires of July 2018, helping families who lost their only home.

To support IOCC’s work in Greece with a financial gift, please contact IOCC online ( or by phone (877.803.4622).


International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) is the humanitarian and development agency of the Assembly of Canonical Bishops of the United States of America. Since its inception in 1992, IOCC has provided more than $692 million in humanitarian relief and sustainable development programs in over 60 countries worldwide. Today, IOCC applies its expertise in humanitarian response to human-caused and natural crises in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and the United States, offering assistance based solely on need. Learn more at and follow us @IOCCRelief on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

Photo Caption:  Since 2015, more than 80 associations and microbusinesses (over 3,000 families) have participated in Give for Greece and received equipment and training. Photo: IOCC / Konstantinos Tsakalidis.