Global Volunteers’ Country Managers and Team Leaders are the heart and soul of this organization. They are volunteers’ resource and guide while serving in the community. They are our community partners’ connection to valuable volunteer resources. They are the glue that hold Global Volunteers’ service programs together.
One of the very best ways to get to know a Service Program is to get to know the Country Manager. And, one of the very best sources of that information is volunteers who have served in that country with that Country Manager.
The following are all direct quotes from volunteer alumni who have served with Sam Pinakoulaki, Global Volunteers’ valued and priceless Country Manager in Greece.
Jim Gorski and Mary Lou Rice
Sam has a knowledge of and respect for Greek people and culture and she shares that with volunteers. She quickly and quietly assesses the talents and needs of the wide range of volunteers who show up on her doorstep.
“We can sum up by saying that our volunteer experience in Greece was a rich and fun experience and Sam was a big part of the reason for that.”– Jim Gorski and ML Rice
Sam brings humor, and a sense of fun to the work. She works with joy and love – love for the work, for her partners, for the students, for the volunteers. She is creative in her approach to solving problems, dealing with partners, and helping volunteers. She is always available for the volunteers, from early morning to late evening. Sam was light and fun to work with, and she was always clearly in charge. We can sum up by saying that our volunteer experience in Greece was a rich and fun experience and Sam was a big part of the reason for that.
Sam has outstanding leadership qualities. Sam is one of very few people who can combine purposeful leadership with kindness and sensitivity. Sam has the ability to meld people of different ages and backgrounds into a real team in a short space of time. She is much appreciated by her team members and the community she serves. She has been an inspiration to me and I look forward to working with her again.
“Sam is one of very few people who can combine purposeful leadership with kindness and sensitivity.”– Sophie Hughes
Sam is a true gem. Sam became a friend, a mentor, a mother, a comedian, and a true leader within the first 30 minutes of meeting her. Our three children (21, 19, and 12), my husband, and I were pretty frazzled emotionally when we arrived at Crete our first day. It had been a long trip, but an even longer year for our family and poor Sam had NO idea who we were or what we were about. We had all experienced and suffered quite a bit over the last year or so and we believed a trip to Greece and an opportunity to heal our hearts and our minds while we gave to others was the way forward. So, when we arrived after a long day of travel and a conflict between my two older kids that felt like WW3, I was mortified and terrified at the decision to embark on serving others when I was watching my family fall apart. Sam took no notice. She smiled. She said she had five kids of her own, similar ages, that she “understood, totally”. She continued to give us space to deal with our “stuff” all the while developing relationships with all of us.
“Sam became a friend, a mentor, a mother, a comedian, and a true leader within the first 30 minutes of meeting her.”– Peggy Cope
When we taught in the classrooms, she was instrumental in supporting us with our lessons, laughing with us as we played “freeze dance,” interpreting what our new, young friends were saying, and becoming a true friend to all of us. We were completely out of our comfort zone some days and she made us feel like we were the best volunteers she’d ever had. She was there when we woke up and she left as we all headed to bed.
Sam introduced us to her children, who some days taught alongside us and gave my kids an opportunity to ask questions and swap stories about life as a teenager. We felt like we were a part of her family, and she ours. We swore we would be back, and we will. We healed our hearts and our family, as sticky and messy as it was at times and Sam never judged us, she just loved us. She is an angel to all of those who live in that community and to all of us that come from afar. She is the conduit between us all and it isn’t anything but pure light, pure love, pure grace. We all feel blessed to have had our experience with Global Volunteers (our best family trip EVER) and truly believe it was all because of Sam Pinakoulaki!
Sam is the absolute best! Sam is skilled at leading groups with diverse personalities and makes sure everyone is well looked after. Sam is fun, upbeat, and always encouraging. She shares her passion and enthusiasm for Global Volunteers’ program in Greece and ensures one’s time teaching in Crete is truly a memorable experience.
“Sam is skilled at leading groups with diverse personalities and makes sure everyone is well looked after.“– Susan Brandler
Sam with volunteers Donna and Maggie Sam with volunteers Melody, Kathy, and Linn Sam with volunteers Maria and Judy
Sam is a treasure — warm, welcoming, sensitive. She makes a team come together in harmony and fun. Sam’s spirit enriches each team and the whole Global Volunteers program in Greece. We wish we could join her more often.
“Sam’s spirit enriches each team and the whole Global Volunteers program in Greece.”– Suzanne Popp