National Philoptochos Society Commitments and Programs
- Academy of Saint Basil
- Autism Assistance Fund
- Children's Medical Fund
- Ecumenical Patriarchate
- National Philoptochos Emergency Fund
- General Medical Fund
- Hellenic College Holy Cross School of Theology
- International Orthodox Christian Charities
- Archdiocesan Presbyters Council and National Sisterhood of Presvyteres Joint Benevolent Fund
- Orhodox Christian Fellowship (OCF)
- Orthodox Christian Mission Center and Support a Mission Priest
- Retired Clergy and Widowed Presbyteras Benevolent Fund
- Saint Photios Shrine
- Seventy-Fifth Anniversary Founders Fund
- Social Services
- United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund
The National Philoptochos Commitments are adopted by the Chapter delegates at the National Philoptochos Biennial Conventions and approved by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios. Each local Chapter supports these commitments through various fundraising activities. Funds are collected in specified months.
In March 1944, then Archbishop Athenagoras requested Philoptochos to purchase the beautiful 250-acre estate of Jacob Ruppert in Garrison, NY, which is located on the shores of the Hudson River, directly opposite the U.S. Military Academy of West Point. With the purchase of this estate, Philoptochos had the enormous task of completely renovating the property, which included several buildings, the main administration building, a residence for the Director, classrooms and dormitories, a reception hall and building a Chapel. Today, the Philoptochos continues to be one of the main financial supporters of the Academy through two commitments: Vasilopita and Sisterhood. The Vasilopita event is conducted during the month of January across the United States by every Chapter in every parish. It is the main source of funding for the operating expenses of the Academy. The Sisterhood Fund is collected in April. This program provides for the ongoing physical needs of the children of the Academy, such as clothing, furniture, equipment and essentials for the dormitories, kitchen, etc. and for the graduation celebrations and special awards for graduating students.
Autism is a complex, life-long, neurologicial disorder that inhibits a person's ability to communicate and develop social relationships and this disorder is diagnosed in one out 88 children in the United States. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has called autism a national public health crisis. Only 29 states mandate that the costs associated with the treatment and therapy of autism spectrum disorders be covered by health care insurance, leaving families to individually address devastating financial burdens. This fund will heighten awareness of autism and provide assistance and support to persons within the autism spectrum.
The Children's Medical Fund was established in 1989 when Philoptochos expanded its Cardiac program to include all life-threatening illnesses, including AIDS, Cancer, kidney and liver ailments, juvenile diabetes, etc. A major luncheon is sponsored by a different Metropolis biennially to support this program. More than one million dollars has been contributed:
- To children's hospitals in the United States at the forefront of innovative programs to assist in the medical care of Orthodox children
- To provide financial assistance to pay for the medical care of critically ill Greek, Greek - American and Orthodox children
- To provide hospitals funding for research programs, which benefit all children with serious medical problems
The philanthropies of the Ecumenical Patriarchate such as Balukli Hospital and Nursing Home, schools, shrine and parishes are supported by this commitment.
In recent years, there have been an unprecedented number of natural disasters in the United States and throughout the world that have depleted the voluntarily supported Emergency Fund. This has required repeated, direct solicitations to Metropolis Philoptochos Boards and parish Chapters, delaying and interfering with the Society's ability to respond, expeditiously and efficiently. This discretionary commitment enables Philoptochos to respond immediately to those in need in times of national or international disasters.
The General Medical Fund was established in response to a need to provide a funding mechanism for persons seeking assistance in connection with illnesses not specifically covered by other, restricted National Philoptochos funds and programs. The Fund does not incorporate the kinds of restrictions commonly associated with other programs, thereby allowing its financial resources to be available for even the most unusual and uncommon medical conditions and resulting financial issues.
The then Archbishop Athenagoras established the Holy Cross Theological School in June 1937, in Pomfret, CT. The Archbishop directed a special appeal to the Philoptochos to "devote" themselves to the School, "where your sons will be educated as priests and teachers" and urged the ladies to "prove once again your strong faith." In the ensuing years, the Philoptochos was, and over seventy years later continues to be, actively involved in offering financial support to Holy Cross. There are two programs for Hellenic College Holy Cross: Scholarships and the Lenten Event. For more than 20 years, Scholarships have been awarded to worthy and dedicated students at both schools to assist them with their tuition expenses. The Lenten Event is celebrated on the Third Sunday of Lent, observing the Veneration of the Holy Cross. The Chapters are requested to arrange a Lenten Event following the Divine Liturgy. Donations raised are used for the operational expenses of the school.
The IOCC is the official humanitarian aid agency of Orthodox Christians, which provides food, shelter, economic self-sufficiency and hope to those in need around the world. This is an ongoing financial commitment of the Philoptochos Society.
The National Sisterhood of Presvyteres was formally established in 1982, and consists of all Presvyteres of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. The monies raised through this commitment will be donated to the NSP Benevolent Fund, which was established to provide short-term support for clergy and/or their families in a time of crisis.
The Orthodox Christian Fellowship was organized under the auspices of the Standing Conference of Orthodox Christian Bishops of America, in order to support Orthodox Christian fellowship on college campuses throughout the United States. The OCF affords Orthodox Christian young adults the opportunity to meet, experience and witness the Orthodox Christian faith and church, through community life, prayer and service to others.
The Philoptochos Society provides financial support to the OCMC missionary teams, strengthening their ability to empower the Orthodox Church worldwide to carry its message to those who have yet to hear it and bring them within its fold. The Philoptochos, through the Support a Mission Priest program, provides financial support enabling Orthodox bishops and priests in mission areas to build and restore churches, community centers, school and medical facilities as well as to participate in training, teaching and field management, therefore increasing productivity.
The Retired Clergy Association (RCA) of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America was founded and established by the late Fr. John Zanetos on April 26, 1988. The monies raised through this commitment will be donated to the RCA Benevolent Fund which provides support and guidance for retired clergy who are facing financial difficulties.
In 1965, the Archdiocese purchased the Avero House in historic Saint Augustine, Florida to commemorate the arrival of the first Greek settlers to the New World in 1768. The Philoptochos has continued to provide financial assistance towards the preservation of the National Shrine.
2006 marked the 75th Anniversary of the Society's founding. This historic milestone offered all Philoptochos members, and our entire Greek Orthodox community in America, an opportunity to reflect on our history, our founders and the generation of women who have selflessly worked to fulfill the mission of the Society. To commemorate the lasting contributions and memory of the founding members, this discretionary commitment will provide financial support to existing continuing care facilities serving the aging Greek Orthodox population in the United States and the establishment of similar facilities.
Since the late 1950's, upon the recommendation of Archbishop Iakovos, Philoptochos has placed an increased emphasis on the implementation of important programs to benefit the Greek Orthodox community, including, but not limited to, institutions of the Church, the philanthropies of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and assistance to Greek and Greek Orthodox families. Involvement in social and moral issues encouraged the establishment of several committees to address topics such as child abuse prevention, domestic violence, homelessness, pornography, drug and alcohol abuse, and aging. Since 1987, the National Philoptochos office has employed a professional Social Worker, engaged in assisting the Greek Orthodox community in the United States as well as Greek and Cypriot nationals. The Department of Social Services is a very important, vital element of our organization. The mission of the department is to improve the quality of life of those in need, in a way that maintains the dignity and self-respect of the individuals. Through confidential and professional services, the office provides outreach, education, information, support, intervention, motivation, advocacy, financial assistance and referral to local and broader resources. At the 2010 National Conference, the membership approved the merging of the Cancer Fund into the Social Services Fund, thereby reducing the total number of national commitments.
In 1979, to commemorate the United Nation's "International Year of the Child", Philoptochos became an NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) with the United Nations and UNICEF. Through the commitment for UNICEF, Philoptochos donations help this global organization to protect the rights, health and well being of all children.