Kyparissi, Laconia: a small village is revived thanks to the Tony Julius Fund
Tony Julius, a.k.a. Antonis Giouzelis, left his small village of Kyparissi, Laconia (Peloponnese) in the early 20th century, in search of a better future in the United States, yet he never forgot his roots. Today, thanks to a bequest managed by the King Baudouin Foundation United States (KBFUS) in partnership with the Bodossaki Foundation, his memory remains very much alive among the residents of his native village, as a number of interventions and initiatives keep improving their life.
Kyparissi is a small, secluded village on the slopes of Mount Parnon, overlooking the Myrtoan Sea. It is also a location of stunning natural beauty. The village’s 400 inhabitants are active primarily in agriculture, fishing, olive oil production, beekeeping and tourism. Until the 1970s, Kyparissi was accessible only by sea or on foot, via a steep mountain trail. It was there that Tony Julius was born and raised. Although he spent most of his adult life in California, USA, his love of this place was so great that he left most of his fortune to a bequest established for the purpose of supporting, after his death, the lives of the village’s residents.
Since 2011, the Tony Julius Fund is managed by KBFUS, in partnership with the Bodossaki Foundation, to ensure that money is channeled in a transparent manner to initiatives that benefit the local community.
In line with the above, the following activities have been financed so far:
- The infrastructure of the village’s primary school, built in late 19th century to architectural drawings by the German architect Ernst Ziller, was upgraded. In particular, the school’s lavatories, boiler room and roof were repaired and electronic equipment (one PC per student), together with an interactive whiteboard, were delivered.
- A new playground was installed in the village centre, together with new benches.
- The roof of the church of the Holy Trinity underwent maintenance and was painted.
- The footpaths to the bay of Saint George and the Acropolis of Kyphanta were opened up and maintained.
- Financial assistance was granted to local residents in need, in accordance with the provisions of Tony Julius’ will.
The most important development project, however, was the upgrading of the climbing routes around the village, attracting dozens of climbers from all over the world during the low-season months, extending thus the tourism period from April to November and boosting the village’s economy.
To watch a video dedicated to the village’s climbing routes, click here.
The technical and financial report for 2018 is available here.
All projects are carried out in consultation with the village’s residents and authorities. The Bodossaki Foundation’s management team visits Kyparissi at regular intervals, in order to obtain a clear picture of the projects’ progress as well as of their acceptance by the local community and the latter’s current needs.