Maria Konti-Galinou was born in Mytilini. She studied and worked as a kindergarten teacher in Athens. There, as a volunteer, she became involved in helping children with special needs and participating in summer camps. With her husband Polis Pantelidis, in 1993 she moved to England where she began working on programs of the Christian international non-profit organization, The Salvation Army, one of the largest organizations providing emotional, physical and spiritual social aid to vulnerable groups in the world.
Maria trained at The William Booth Training College and also studied counseling at the University of Bristol. For the next eight years, she worked as an “officer” of the Salvation Army in Bristol, England (the organization maintains a military-like structure and names for its employees), where she worked with addicts, high-security prison inmates and in street programmers and the rehabilitation of trafficking victims.
Armed with The Salvation Army training – its philosophy and aim being to empower those in need to be able to claim back their lives – and over a decade of experience in outreach in the UK, with her husband, in 2007 they opened a Salvation Army branch for the first time in Greece, in Thessaloniki.
There they distribute and organize food and drink delivery to the homeless during the night and hundreds of families, offering practical and emotional support to families with children, as well as victims of trafficking. Two more officers were added to the Thessaloniki office in 2012 when the program grew, with Maria and her husband opening a Salvation Army branch in Athens. Maria and Polis have twin daughters.