The New York-based Greek America Foundation is seeking applicants to participate in a volunteer program supporting underprivileged youth in Thessaloniki, Greece from June 28 – July 4, 2020.
Participants will serve children who come from disadvantaged families and who are in need of friendship, mentorship and encouragement. The group will work in a structured environment and in partnership with a respected Greek non-profit organization with years of experience in this field.
Growing middle-class poverty has left an average of one in four Greek children living in poverty — according to UNICEF. The statistic gives Greece one of the highest child poverty rates in the EU.
As a result, thousands of children in Greece lack access to beneficial educational experiences such as summer camps and similar programs. They also suffer from unstable and at times unsafe family environments.
The Greek partner non-profit organization SOS Children’s Villages directly addresses this issue. SOS focuses on helping families to cultivate a nurturing home environment for their children. They also provide alternative care once the children can no longer live with their own families.
With facilities throughout Greece, SOS also operates urban summer camps which offer recreational activities, educational projects and life-skills coaching for youth.
SOS’s specific programs include the Family Strengthening Program, which works directly with families, many of which are single parents looking after children alone. The organization provides family services such as parental counseling as well as material, social and emotional support.
For the week-long volunteer program, SOS’s staff will host and supervise the Greek America Foundation team, which comes from the foundation’s volunteer division — called Greek America Corps. The two groups will work together at the SOS facility near Thessaloniki.
In addition to volunteer duties at the camp, participants will have some free evenings to either explore or attend dinner-inclusive excursions arranged by the Greek America Foundation. Excursions will include local happenings and cultural events taking place in Thessaloniki.
Financial aid is available. Students with need may apply for scholarships that cover the cost of housing, program expenses such as cultural excursions, local transportation and various group meals. Airfare to Greece is not included.
Applicants who do not require financial aid may also opt to pay for themselves. Regardless of application type (scholarship/paid), participants must first apply and be accepted into the program to participate.