Dozens of initiatives exist to help Greece out of her current crisis and support the vulnerable people impacted the most by the crisis.
The Greek Orthodox Church in the United States has led the way, sending millions of dollars in aid to help feed and clothe the poor. Ahepa, the newly formed Hellenic Initiative, the Hellenic Relief Foundation and other US-based charities have dome their part as well.
Even the Greek America Foundation has done its tiny part via Project Hope for Greece, an initiative aimed at supporting transparent and sustainable charities and long-term projects that aim at helping Greek youth break the cycle of unemployment and despair.
During my recent visit to Greece, I visited the offices of customedialabs, a Philadelphia-based digital marketing and media company founded by Manos Sifakis*, a Greek-born, UK-educated entrepreneur who emigrated to the USA a decade go.
The company manages marketing portfolios and projects for multi-billion-dollar companies like John & Johnson and Edwards Life Sciences and much of the work is done in… Larissa, Greece.
Yes, Larissa, a town of 150,000 people just outside Volos and about 4 hours north of Athens in a region called Thessaly. It’s a fertile valley known more for its dairy farms and cows, than for its tech start-ups.
When I arrived, Manos opened his arms and said “Welcome to Thessaly Valley”. It had a nice ring to it… Silicon Valley, Thessaly Valley… Why not, I thought? If anyone can do it, Manos can.
His Philadelphia-based company with 17 employees maintains a huge support operation in Larissa, with 37 employees working round the clock handling the needs of the global clients throughout the world. When I visited, I met a room full of spirited, enthusiastic and hard-working young people, eager to work and proud of what they were accomplishing in their tiny corner of the world.
One employee told me that this wasn’t a job to her, “It’s a movement we are a part of,” she said.
Imagine that– a global operation handling marketing, digital media project and communications efforts for some of the world’s biggest companies… headquartered NOT out of London, New York City or Hong Kong… but Larissa, Greece.
Manos isn’t your everyday Greek American community organizer. He’s never been a part of a local community or church– in fact, for the usual stereotypes, he has stayed far away and has lived a life in Philadelphia independent of the Greek community until very recently.
But I can say that Manos is an example for business owners and people of influence who are actually helping Greece more than anyone I have encountered thus far. By employing 37 people in Greece, a sort of “out-sourcing” of talent to Greece, rather than to Bangladesh or India…
Manos is helping 37 families survive the crisis in Greece with dignity and stability and providing these families with an important thing: hope.
If only other Greek American community leaders and entrepreneurs took note and considered Greece and Greeks as a viable option for creative collaborations like this.