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Volume 12, No. 1 Spring 2009
Orthodox Volunteers Make
A Difference in the U.S.
In 2008, over 200 IOCC volunteers from 55 Orthodox parishes helped to complete 50 new homes on Louisiana’s Gulf Coast. IOCC is leading an effort to recruit more Orthodox volunteers for a variety of service opportunities in the U.S. (Photo credit: IOCC Baltimore)
IOCC Gulf Coast New Orleans, LA — In 2008, IOCC and a corps of 235 volunteers provided $3.5 million in community development and emergency relief programs throughout the U.S. IOCC efforts were focused on supporting initiatives to build homes on the Gulf Coast, provide new books and educational equipment to inner city schools and train volunteers to respond to their community’s long term needs. While the US Program focused on long-term development efforts, IOCC also responded with emergency programs for last year’s Iowa floods and Hurricane Ike in Texas.

“We are in the vanguard of a national effort to engage Orthodox volunteers in a variety of opportunities right here in the U.S.,” says Pascalis Papouras, IOCC’s US Program Coordinator. According to Papouras, in 2008, IOCC volunteers represented 85 Orthodox parishes from eight different jurisdictions.

IOCC’s largest volunteer program, “Volunteer in the Gulf Coast,” mobilized 204 volunteers to build new homes for communities that are still rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina. Participants put in over 8,000 volunteer hours, worth a total of $160,000, towards the completion of 50 new homes in Louisiana. Now in its third year, the program is recruiting volunteers for the 2009 season. [see below]

In the hurricane-battered Gulf Coast, IOCC is working to expand the capacity of local organizations to serve their community’s long term needs by providing books and educational materials to schools serving low income students, and by supporting initiatives that help families who have suffered from domestic abuse. “We chose to support key local partners because funding for vital outreach activities has been overlooked in the general relief and recovery of the major agencies on the Gulf Coast,” says Papouras.

Desire Street Academy, a New Orleans high school for African-American boys, received over $1 million in new books and audio/visual equipment through IOCC. In Alabama, Penelope House, which provides shelter and advocacy for battered women and their children, received a $19,000 grant for a pilot project to educate primary schools in Mobile County to reach out to families suffering from domestic abuse. Also in Alabama, IOCC partnered with the National Head Start Association to provide more than $800,000 in new books and classroom instructional materials to children in eight counties. In New Orleans and surrounding parishes, IOCC partnered with the Peja Stojakovic Children’s Foundation to distribute an additional $800,000 worth of books to youth organizations. IOCC received valuable assistance for these projects from Brother’s Brother Foundation.

The latest IOCC volunteer initiative is the “Frontline”, a group of Orthodox clergy and lay people trained by IOCC in Critical Incident Stress Management, a form of trauma evaluation and counseling. The Frontline, now 40 members strong, represents five different Orthodox jurisdictions.

In 2008, the Frontline provided pastoral care to victims of the Iowa floods and Hurricane Ike in the Gulf Coast. “We practiced a kind of ‘commando ministry,’“ says Frontline volunteer and seminarian David Hostetler who counseled those staying in shelters in Galveston, Texas. “We were able to move from case to case filling in where needs were not being met. The lack of a bureaucracy made us more responsive to immediate needs on the ground.”

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In This Issue

IOCC Extends A Healing Hand to Africa

Message from the Executive Director

Families in Gaza Endure, Struggle to Rebuild

Orthodox Volunteers Make A Difference in the U.S.

Trauma of War Lingers for Children in Georgia

Seeds of Hope Take Root for Greek Farmers

The Will To Help

IOCC Foundation

Become an IOCC Parish Representative

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