TARPON SPRINGS – It’s no secret Tarpon Springs shares deep ties with Greece, beginning with the many Greek immigrants who settled in the North Pinellas community in the late 1800s through the current Sister Cities program, which included a recent trip by Tarpon officials to Kalymnos, Symi and Halki.
Then there is the current mayor, Chris Alahouzos, who was born on the island of Kalymnos.
So naturally, after a string of wildfires devasted several areas near Athens earlier this summer, killing more than 90 people and destroying more than 3,000 homes, Tarpon Springs, along with executives with Florida Hospital, decided to help.
“The connection we have with the country of Greece, we felt it was the right thing to do for the people of Greece,” Alahouzos said after the city donated $500.00, via the Sister Cities program, to the country’s relief efforts last month.
The city’s donation was made in collaboration with Florida Hospital’s effort to send medical-supply care packages to the burn victims of the more than a dozen wildfires that started in late July.
On Thursday, Aug. 23, Alahouzos worked with Florida Hospital North Pinellas president and CEO Jason Dunkel to pack boxes filled with gauze, bandages, ibuprofen and other supplies for the hundreds of men, women and children injured in the blazes.
“Florida Hospital is more than a hospital, we are an active partner in the community,” Dunkel said via email. “And in Tarpon Springs, many of our employees, family and friends know someone affected by the devastation in Greece, so it was a natural fit for us to find a way to help heal our neighbors as they start the journey to recovery.”
While there was no word on the receipt of the shipment prior to press time, Alahouzos said he sent a letter to Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos to let him know the city of Tarpon Springs wanted to help with the relief efforts.
“We sent word to the office of the president when we were planning what we wanted to do, and we received a reply from his excellency saying they were very thankful for the help,” he said. “I told my contacts in his office that it was the least Tarpon Springs could do for all the Greeks who are suffering from these devastation fires.”