Athens, Greece – In a special ceremony at the Archdiocese of Athens on October 11, 2018, His Beatitude Ieronymos II, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, awarded the archdiocese’s highest honor – the Medal of the Order of St. Dionysios Areopagitou – to the San Antonio Area Foundation in memory of Greek businessman John L. Santikos, whose generous bequest to IOCC assists people facing hardship in Greece and will continue to do so for years to come.

The John L. Santikos Charitable Foundation, a fund of the San Antonio Area Foundation, has granted funding to IOCC for relief programs in Greece, Santikos’ country of origin. Since 2015, Santikos funding has supported IOCC’s response to the ongoing economic and refugee crises facing the country.

Area Foundation President and COO Rebecca Brune accepted the medal on the foundation’s behalf. Brune said that the Area Foundation, which manages the Santikos estate, “is honored to be part of the impactful work and partnership between IOCC and Apostoli.” She continued, “We are merely the vessel in bringing your vision to life and will continue to serve to both deepen and honor the legacy of Mr. John L. Santikos.”

Brune was in the country, along with IOCC Chairman of the Board Mark Stavropoulos, IOCC Executive Director and CEO Constantine M. Triantafilou, and IOCC Director of Operations Stacey Mason, and to see firsthand IOCC programming implemented in cooperation with Apostoli, the humanitarian arm of the Archdiocese of Athens. It was the first official visit to project sites by an Area Foundation representative.

Throughout the nearly week-long trip, the executives were accompanied by program staff with intimate knowledge of the various projects and assistance IOCC is providing. They surveyed ongoing response to the July 2018 fires in the east Attica village of Mati, the archdiocese’s tutoring center for low-income students, and its community center offering language and integration assistance to refugees.

A generous bequest to IOCC from the John L. Santikos Charitable Foundation, a fund of the San Antonio Area Foundation, supports IOCC’s response in Greece to the economic and refugee crises—including equipment and training for microenterprises like Evge, a women’s association in Melissochori that produces and sells traditional pastas. Photo: International Orthodox Christian Charities / Konstantinos Tsakalidis.

The group also visited livelihood projects in the Thessaloniki area, where IOCC support for agriculture associations and small businesses – equipment, training, and business mentoring – is creating jobs and strengthening communities. The visitors spoke with people who have benefited from this programming, who spoke of the important difference it has made for their families and communities.

The John L. Santikos Charitable Foundation, a fund of the San Antonio Area Foundation, was created by John L. Santikos—entrepreneur, real estate developer, and movie theatre businessman—who passed away December 30, 2014. Mr. Santikos gifted the bulk of his estate to the San Antonio Area Foundation to establish his legacy, continue the successful operation of his businesses, and make significant annual donations beyond his lifetime. He directed his support for nonprofits in eight Texas counties who offer a wide range of charitable programs. The San Antonio Area Foundation has served as the sole, designated community foundation for the San Antonio area for over half a century, growing to become one of the Top 20 foundations in the nation based on asset size.

IOCC is the humanitarian and development agency of the Assembly of Canonical Bishops of the United States of America. Since its inception in 1992, IOCC has provided more than $661 million in humanitarian relief and sustainable development programs in over 60 countries worldwide. Today, IOCC applies its expertise in humanitarian response to man-made and natural crises in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the United States, offering assistance based solely on need.