Operation Housewarming - Boston

This week our guest blogger is Metropolis of Boston Philoptochos Board member Eleni Stamboulis who writes about the wonderful work being done in the Metropolis to help provide basic necessities for our veterans. It is something she hopes will be adopted nationwide as the need is great and our thelisi (want) to help those who need it most is in abundance. Our veterans have shown courage and strength and Eleni explains how we can show compassion, respect, and support.
As the philanthropic arm of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, outreach continues to be a major component of the Philoptochos mission.   Under the guidance and counseling of His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios, the Metropolis of Boston Philoptochos together with all the Philoptochos Chapters and in collaboration with our clergy, we have adopted a new and on-going project to provide support to homeless veterans in the VA New England Healthcare System.  The project is called “Operation Housewarming” and involves providing housewarming baskets to veterans transitioning to independent living. 

This initiative began over Christmas 2012 when His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios and several members of the Metropolis Philoptochos Board visited the Bedford, MA facility and delivered care packages for each of the residents preparing for transition.  Subsequently representatives of the Veterans Administration (VA) attended a meeting of the clergy at the Metropolis to introduce the needs of the veterans.  More recently, VA representatives attended the 2013 Biennial Metropolis of Boston Philoptochos Conference to educate the Philoptochos community regarding the veteran’s needs.  

In New England, the largest program is based at the VA Medical Center in Bedford, MA and the second largest is located at the VA Medical Center in Brockton, MA.  In understanding the enormity/complexity of the homeless program, we are beginning this project in coordination with VA Leadership to assist the veteran population at the Bedford and Brockton locations with a goal to expand the project throughout New England.

Similarly, our parishes are spread throughout New England.  We felt it prudent therefore that the implementation process be made incrementally beginning with all the Chapters in Massachusetts followed with New Hampshire; Connecticut; Rhode Island; Vermont and Maine.     

As you may know, the needs of our veterans are significant and unfortunately all cannot be fulfilled by the VA System.  It is heart-wrenching to watch our men and women leave to defend and protect our country only to return home and be lost.   The scars of battle are not always visible and often lead individuals down a dark and lonely path.  We owe our veterans a debt of gratitude for their sacrifice so that we may enjoy the liberties that we have.  It is in this spirit that I ask you to join the Metropolis of Boston in extending a helping hand to our nation’s homeless veterans. 

Want to know how your Chapter can participate? 

The Veterans Health Administration is comprised of 23 VA Integrated Service Networks of care nationwide.  Although Chapters can contact their local VA facility it is best to work with the respective VA Network Leadership in your area.  Initial contact should be coordinated by the respective Metropolis Philoptochos with the Office of the Network Director for the particular VA Network.  The appropriate network resources and other information are available via this website:  http://www.va.gov/directory/guide/division_flsh.asp?dnum=1.

The office of the Network Director will then designate the appropriate office within their organization to facilitate the effort.  Such programs/projects are typically coordinated via the VA Voluntary Service Program Director for the respective VA Network who in turn will help to promote the project with the appropriate individuals at the local VA facility(s) levels.  

If you embark on this project, let us know. We welcome questions and news of your progress and want to support you along the way. You can contact Vivian at the National Philoptochos office at vsiempos@philoptochos.org.  

-Eleni Stamboulis
Metropolis of Boston Philoptochos Board Member