News & Information – June 2009
It is always a great privilege for me to see young, talented Orthodox professionals devote their lives and their skills to the Church. At IOCC, we are seeing a new generation of such leaders rising to the occasion. Zachary O’Dell, who has been serving at headquarters as Program Assistant, will oversee pilot projects in Uganda under IOCC’s Africa Initiative. He will be based in our Ethiopia office where he will also assist Country Representative Sigurd Hanson. Jamie Helfer joins IOCC as Program Analyst taking over Zach’s duties and coordinating our overseas emergency response programs. Megan Carniewski joins IOCC as Assistant Outreach Coordinator working with the Metropolitan Committees to stage fundraising events around the country, a position that has been managed by Vasi Jankovich, who is off to Georgia on a one-year assignment in our Tbilisi office. Our summer interns are Ryan Erickson, also serving in Tbilisi, and Anya Thetford who is working with Iraqi refugees in Amman, Jordan. I am confident that each of these talented young professionals will make a unique contribution to our organization.

IOCC Romania has received a $1.6 million grant to increase the capacity of the Romanian Orthodox Church to help communities achieve economic sustainability and overcome severe social issues. The two-year program will help the Church become a key player in providing social services and in creating new jobs and improving education and health care. We are pleased to take our longstanding collaboration with the Orthodox Patriarchate to a new level with this initiative.

Finally, I want to thank the hundreds of IOCC volunteers toiling in the Louisiana sun to build new Habitat for Humanity homes for hurricane survivors. The “Volunteer in the Gulf Coast” program is in its third year and has provided new homes for those in need and invigorated the Orthodox faithful for volunteer service right here in the U.S.

The Gulf Coast is a reminder of the coming hurricane season and the need to be prepared for an emergency. The likelihood of surviving a natural or man-made disaster depends as much on our own readiness as that of the authorities. We have included this Emergency Preparedness Kit with practical steps for you and your family to make plans now for the unexpected.

In Christ,

Constantine M. Triantafilou
Executive Director and CEO
(left to right) Zachary O’Dell; Jamie Helfer; Vasi Jankovich; Megan Carniewski; (bottom row) Interns Ryan Erickson and Anya Thetford.

Medical Supplies Delivered to Gaza
IOCC has just delivered two major medical shipments to Gaza including a shipment of 30 boxes of medicines (aspirin, antibiotics, ibuprofen, Tylenol, and multivitamins) by Interchurch Medical Assistance (I.M.A.) and a 40 foot container of medical supplies including surgical packs, masks, gloves, needles, and syringes from Medical Teams International (MTI). IOCC is working in cooperation with American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) to distribute the shipments to hospitals and medical centers throughout Gaza. The shipments are part of IOCC’s $1.4 million Gifts-in-Kind pledge for assistance to Gaza. Church World Service (CWS) contributed towards the acquisition and transportation costs of the I.M.A. shipment.

Single Working Moms in Louisiana Realize Dream of Homeownership
Covington, Louisiana — At 43, tan, and muscular, Michelle bounds up a ladder and uses her shoulder to hoist a “truss,” a large wooden structure that will secure the roof of a new home. When she ducks as the team below her slides the truss into place, Michelle, a New Orleans native, reminds you of a pioneer woman. In fact, she is one. For the first time in her life, she will own a home, something that this landscape gardener and single mother never thought was possible. Michelle is working on a Habitat for Humanity home, putting in the 300 hours of sweat equity required towards the acquisition of her own house. Her American dream is about to come true thanks in part to the hundreds of IOCC volunteers who have toiled in the Louisiana sun since 2006 to build new Habitat homes for the survivors of Hurricane Katrina ... READ MORE

Iraqi Refugees in Jordan
IOCC recently launched a new program to address the economic and psychosocial needs of Iraqi refugee women and children who are living in Jordan. The project, funded by Action by Churches Together (ACT) International, will include art and drama therapy to reduce the lasting effects of displacement and migration. Vocational training will also be provided for computer literacy, hairstyling, sewing and handicrafts. Emphasis will be placed on providing training to female Iraqi refugees who are unemployed in Jordan. IOCC recently signed an agreement with Jordan’s National Center for Cultural & Performing Arts to implement the psychosocial part of the program. The program will provide art and drama therapy for 300 children. After finishing the therapy workshops, the children will perform interactive plays based on the training they received.

Ken Kasovac, Washington D.C.
Ken Kasovac proved himself to be a volunteer par excellence when he called our headquarters and offered to host a benefit concert. Kasovac, who has served as a choir director in Los Angeles, Phoenix, Washington, D.C., and Belgrade, had formed the Seraphim Chorale, a choir of friends from various Orthodox churches in the DC area who wanted to serve the community. On March 15, 2009, the Seraphim Chorale performed Lenten and Paschal hymns in English, Russian and Serbian church Slavonic at St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral in Washington D.C. The concert drew an audience of 100 and raised over $2,000 for IOCC. “What draws me to IOCC the most are the people who actually work with IOCC and are trying to make a difference with the Orthodox community in the United States and around the world,” said Ken. “It is our duty as U.S. citizens who are able to give in a capacity to help others around the world.” This fall, Kasovac will be starting seminary at St. Tikhon’s in Pennsylvania. Hear a sample of the Seraphim Chorale concert here.
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