The Motivational Power of Boroume # 15

Thu 16 December 2021
Boroume's driving force is its volunteers. People who may even come from the other side of the world to help, even for a while. Volunteers for whom giving is so embedded as a concept in their lives that they explore every opportunity to help.

Athan Manuel is a first generation Greek-American born in Fayetteville, North Carolina. His father, Chrysostomos, is an Orthodox priest born in Thessaloniki. His grandparents were from Proussa in Asia Minor. His mother, Amfitriti, a teacher and amateur poet, was born in Spilia, Messinia. He is the eldest of 4 brothers and has 2 children Ariadne (24 years old) and Evan (21 years old) with his wife Alison. Apart from his family (and his Greek origin) he loves baseball, basketball, cycling and climbing (usually in national parks) and listens to music. He has been a liberal all his life, having worked for 37 years - since graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in 1984 - in activist and environmental organizations. He considers himself lucky enough to have managed to make his personal and political beliefs a professional career.

In addition to his professional involvement with environmental organizations, he strives to be an active citizen. For him, one of the most important things about being a citizen of a democracy like America is that he has rights AND obligations. One of these obligations is to be an active member of society, so he is a volunteer. He is a board member of local NGOs and his children’s school, helps at St. Sophia Cathedral where he goes to church, has coached youth sports teams, and before the pandemic volunteered for organizations in Washington such as Martha's Table, an organization that offers food to the homeless and vulnerable social groups. In addition to being a good and worthy citizen, helping his community and feeling good about what he offers, his volunteerism is a good example for his children.

In America, volunteering is part of the culture of the people. There are hundreds of thousands of organizations out there for which on can volunteer. Ever since the financial crisis in Greece began in 2011, Athan has been looking for organizations and sending donations to several organizations. When he decided to get his leave from the Sierra Club, he knew that he wanted to come to Greece and offer voluntarily, in parallel with the visit to his family and the vacation he had planned. So he started sending messages to the organizations he had sent donations to, or to other organizations that help either refugees or those affected by the financial crisis, about which he had learned from various sources. He hopes to be able to inform more Greek-Americans about volunteering in Greece when he returns to America.

The biggest challenge was to find an organization that would allow him to volunteer for a short period of time, for 2 weeks in his case. His initial plan was, before the pandemic, to spend 2 weeks in Athens, then 2 weeks on an island helping an organization supporting refugees (he had already made some arrangements with a group in Chios) and then take a two-week vacation, in April and May 2020.

Boroume makes it easy to save food and not throw it away, by addressing the seller directly (in his case the sellers in the farmers’ markets). This is also a big issue in America, where many restaurants and grocery stores throw away tons of food, as it is more convenient to throw them away than to find some way to save it. He likes the operating model of Boroume, which is addressed directly to the seller and then the food is transported directly to the means of transport of the recipient charity, so that the food can be reused very quickly.

It is difficult for him to describe the team of Boroume in only 3 words. As a Greek he is talkative! But he will say that the team is dedicated, pleasant and welcomes volunteers.

He believes that it is an act of genius that Boroume has connected producers, those who produce exceptional and highly nutritious food, with vulnerable groups in Greece who need help. His grandparents came to Greece from Asia Minor as refugees 100 years ago, after the Asia Minor catastrophe. Being a grandson of refugees and being able to help refugees in Greece, people who hope for a better life, has very deep roots in him. He’s thankful to everyone at Boroume who made him feel so welcome as a volunteer. He is looking forward to including volunteering in Boroume part of all his next trips to Greece and to include his children next time!