Project HOPE (Humanitarian Outreach and Philanthropic Engagement) is a program launched by Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago with the goal of feeding the city’s most vulnerable residents. The aim is to reach out to Chicago’s greater community.
Project HOPE also aids in providing shelter for the homeless by collaborating with partners who can offer them a short-term solution. In addition, it aids them with their transition to various programs to get permanent housing on their own. Vicki Pappas Karl, Executive Director of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago, had the following to say:
“In two years, Project HOPE has gone from a long-planned ministry that launched in the throes of the pandemic to a thriving institution that soon will celebrate its 500,000-meal milestone in November. The Metropolis of Chicago is truly humbled and overjoyed by the outpouring of support we’ve witnessed and see the response as proof of grace and compassion among the Greek Orthodox faithful, in good and hard times and for all people regardless of who they are or where they come from.”
Chair of Project Hope, Yiani Sianis, honored
Calamos Investments honored Yanni Sianis for being recognized for his humanitarian efforts as Chair of Project HOPE. Speaking of Project HOPE’s accomplishments, Sianis said, “The ministry first began when I went to the Metropolis of Chicago and told them I’d like to start a humanitarian project.”
He added, “This month, we just crossed the 500,000 meals served milestone, since we started in May 2020. That’s on average 20,000 meals served per month.”
Sianis is also the Chief of Staff at Chicago-based Calamos Investments, which he joined in 2010.
Future Goals of Philanthropic Program HOPE
As the program grows, the aim would be to encourage philanthropic engagement from parishioners of the churches to reach a greater amount of people in need.
In the near future, project HOPE will be serving regular hot meals, their own food pantry, and providing a continued shelter for the homeless.
Sianis stated, “We would also like to teach by action the younger generations what it means to give back on a simple platform.”
He added that “the model we built is scalable so we can keep building upon it. We’re reaching out to not just Greek Orthodox, but to everyone, as 95 per cent of the meals that we serve are non-Orthodox. We want to help all those in need, that’s the message.”
Karl also spoke about the program’s future saying, “Looking ahead, the Metropolis has big dreams for Project HOPE and has full confidence it will reach them thanks to tireless and devoted lay leaders, volunteers, and community partners.”
More on Project HOPE
The project was designed prior to the pandemic. However, HOPE effectively started its major distribution in the midst of COVID-19. The program was set up to be a lasting ministry for years to come. In fact, it gained even greater speed after the COVID-19 peak. The model the committee built is also scalable, so they can keep building upon it.
Part of the Project HOPE Committee is John Koudounis. He also serves as the president and chief executive officer for Calamos Investments.
“Koudounis and I did a big fundraiser when COVID-19 hit and we were able to give $150,000 to the Metropolis to start the ministry.”
The beneficiaries of HOPE’s efforts are children, families and individuals. They all live within the parishes. Likewise, the members of the community striving to achieve food security and stable housing. HOPE maintains the anonymity of all beneficiaries and does not share information about them without their prior consent.