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Get set for CMF!
Anastasia Michals, General Luncheon Chair

The 16th Children’s Medical Fund Luncheon, hosted by the Metropolis of New Jersey, will be held on Saturday, November 11, 2017 at The Venetian in Garfield, NJ. The Children’s Medical Fund is National Philoptochos’ major fundraising event.

Since its inception, the National Philoptochos has raised  approximately $3.3 million for the Children's Medical Fund and has awarded over $2.8 million  in grants to hospitals and organizations.  The remaining funds have been disbursed for children in need through grants handled by the Social Services department at the National Philoptochos office. Metropolis of New Jersey Philoptochos President and General Luncheon Chair, Anastasia Michals, has assembled a dedicated and talented group of Philoptochos members to begin the planning process of this important event.  With the goal of raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for area hospitals and health organizations, Mrs. Michals invites all to be a part of the this wonderful day, stating,  “It is our hope to reach a significant level of giving from all over the country, which will offer the opportunity to grant substantial awards to children's hospitals, research and special programs to benefit children throughout the Metropolis of New Jersey and the country."  
 
The majority of the funds raised in conjunction with the Children's Medical Fund Luncheon in 2017 will go towards the benefit of hospitals and programs that help children with medical needs in New Jersey, Delaware, Greater Philadelphia, Maryland and Virginia.   Women from all over the country will attend and participate in the Children's Medical Fund Luncheon.  Please mark your calendars and join us!
National Ministry Commitment- January
Vasilopita!
Joanne Stavrakas and Kaliope Tsitsipas, Co-Chairs

Philoptochos chapters across the Archdiocese (like Annunciation Cathedral Philoptochos in Houston, above) in the month of January will be hosting traditional and inspiring Vasilopita events in honor of Saint Basil the Great to benefit our Saint Basil Academy in Garrison New York.

A most wise and compassionate clergyman, Saint Basil was the first person in history to establish a home for children.  His feast day combines the cheer and happiness of the New Year with the glory of the birth of Christ and the Epiphany into what is known in our Orthodox Church as the traditional Vasilopita Observance, symbolizing the joy of life everlasting. 

For over 72 years Philoptochos has helped to nurture the children of the Academy by providing a warm, loving and secure “home” environment under the guidance of our Archdiocese.  Your generous contributions to this January Ministry Commitment provide for the care of precious lives and the maintenance of the entire facility that belongs to the Philoptochos.

Each of the residents is cared for, loved and made to feel part of a family.  The children have accessible a nurse, a learning center, counseling, music and animal therapy.  They thrive spiritually and academically, gain maturity and grow to be responsible adults.  Visit and you will witness the love and nurturing provided by Fr. Costas Sitaras and the staff, on the face of every child.
 
Children can be confidentially referred to Saint Basil Academy by contacting your Priest or calling Saint Basil Academy at (845) 424-3500.  It is our moral responsibility to help children who need help.

Philoptochos sisters and gracious donors across the Archdiocese contributed $400,000 in 2016 and for the last 10 years, over $3,500,000, from Vasilopita events to assist Saint Basil Academy.  We thank you for helping to provide the children with the comforts that every child deserves.
Ionian Village Rebuilding Fund

On September 8, 2016, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America announced that the campus of the Ionian Village had sustained extensive damage from tornadoes that hit the area in the western Peloponnese region of Greece, that morning.  No one was injured, as the summer camping programs of the Ionian Village had concluded in August.  Though the buildings were left standing, massive destruction was sustained from more than 600 felled trees and their root systems ripped from the ground.  Electrical, plumbing, heating, air conditioning and telecommunications systems were damaged.  Walkways and driveways were destroyed, as well as the exterior of the Chapel and the cross on top of the dome.

To come to the aid of the camp, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese created the Ionian Village Rebuilding Fund. With these monies, work has already begun to repair and re-landscape, and will continue throughout the winter and spring to ensure that the camp will be fully operational by June for the 2017 program.

National Philoptochos responded to the need to help repair the campus that is familiar to many Greek Orthodox families.  At the recent Executive Board Meeting National Philoptochos President Maria Logus, accompanied by His Grace Bishop Sevastianos of Zela, presented a check for $20,000 for the Ionian Village Rebuilding Fund to representative Mariana Floratos, and expressed the importance of the Christ-centered youth ministry.
National Ministry Commitment- January
Social Services Fund/Cancer and Other Major Illness Fund 
Paulette Geanacopoulos, LMSW, Director, Department of Social Work, National Philoptochos
 
Since 1987, the National Philoptochos Office has assisted members of the Orthodox Christian community in the United States through its Department of Social Services.  A vital component of the Society, our mission is to improve the quality of life of those in need in a way that maintains their dignity and self-respect.  Through confidential and professional services provided by a New York State licensed Social Worker (the state in which Philoptochos is incorporated), we provide direct services including outreach, education and information; interim case management and supportive counseling; referrals to local and broader resources, and advocacy to ensure persons obtain what is rightfully theirs; and, training and technical assistance services to strengthen the ability of our affiliates to provide social services locally within their own communities. 
 
We provide limited financial assistance to individuals and families, regardless of their immigration status, as long as the services rendered – housing, medical, etc. – are provided in the United States.  Our financial grants prevent evictions, foreclosures, and utility shut-offs; assist victims of intimate partner abuse and their children to relocate to safe environments; authorize emergency fuel deliveries to ensure families who have exhausted other resources have heat and hot water; offer relief towards food and other daily living needs; and contribute to funeral arrangements to guarantee that our indigent neighbors receive an Orthodox Christian burial. 
 
As uncovered health care costs continue to be a major issue for Americans, and through its Cancer and Other Major Medical Fund, Philoptochos contributes to out-of-pocket medical expenses including but not limited to health insurance premiums, co-payments and deductibles.  Through these grants, we enable those with life-threatening illnesses to focus on their health rather than their many financial challenges. 
 
With referrals from a broad network including hospitals and other institutions, medical professionals and social service agencies, as well as from those within our Church network, our services reach nearly 200 different individuals and families each year from every Metropolis in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.  It is significant to point out that only 25% - 30% of the annual number of cases we assist request or require financial assistance. Awarded within the parameters of Philoptochos guidelines, the Department of Social Services has awarded over $853,000 in financial grants over the past five years on behalf of our clients.  Many of these grants supplement assistance provided at the local and Metropolis levels. 
 
Because of each chapter’s generosity, understanding of and commitment to the mission of the Department of Social Services, we are able to give Orthodox Christians in need relief while we help them develop the skills and resources to manage on their own.  As a result, our work builds and rebuilds futures, and, perhaps most importantly, our work provides spiritual support that lets members of our community know they are not alone. 

Thank you for contributing to these National Ministry Commitments for the month of January.
January 1 - December 31, 2016 Social Services Statistics
Paulette Geanacopoulos with Lilly Katos and Stella Pantelides, Committee Co-chairs
 
Financial Grants Awarded: $189,724         Unduplicated Count of Clients Served: 176 
Presented Problems/Stated Need for Social Services Assistance:
Housing/Homelessness - 34
Inadequate Income/Employment-Underemployment - 34
Cancer/Other Major Medical/Medical - 32
Funeral - 25
Mental Illness - 19
Domestic Violence - 14
Disaster (Floods) - 11
Substance Abuse - 4
Adoption - 3


Program Facts-at-a-Glance
Schedule GO RED SUNDAY on February 5 or another convenient day in Febrary to wear red and mark Go Red for Women (February 3) for heart health awareness (like Annunciation Philoptochos of Buffalo, above).

Why Go Red? Heart disease and stroke cause 1 in 3 deaths among women each year, killing approximately one woman every 80 seconds. Fortunately, we have the power to change that because 80 percent of cardiac and stroke events may be prevented with education and action.  Click here for more information. 
National Ministry Commitments- December
General Medical Fund

The December Ministry Commitment of the General Medical Fund (GMF) was established in response to the need to provide assistance in connection with illnesses not specifically covered by other restricted National Philoptochos funds or programs.

A total of $17,623 was distributed through the General Medical Fund in 2016: a donation of $5,000 to Treehouse in Wichita, Kansas for children's formula and $12,623 to assist individuals through Social Services. 

Since its inception in 2007, almost $283,000 has been donated through the GMF to various organizations and assistance to individuals through Social Services.

None of this assistance would have been possible without your chapter’s generosity. Thank you for your donation, as your contribution is a significant way for us to respond to those in need.
UNICEF Fund
Ourania Soumas and Irene Steffas, Co-Chairs

In 1979, under the auspices of the late Archbishop Iakovos, in order to commemorate the United Nation’s “International Year of the Child”, National Philoptochos became affiliated with the United Nations and UNICEF. 
 
Philoptochos recognizes the valuable work of UNICEF and is committed to protecting the rights and well-being of all children.  December is the Philoptochos Ministry Commitment month for UNICEF. Through the benevolence of our chapters, in the last ten years, we have proudly contributed $240,000 to UNICEF.
 
Thank you to our Philoptochos sisters for your support and dedication to our efforts.

Philoptochos chapters and members helped service men and women say “I love you” to a spouse, child or parent at Christmas time with PREPAID PHONE CARDS delivered by the USO to deployed troops.  A total of 336 phone cards were purchased for $8,400.  Through December 31, 2016, Johnson & Johnson matched all donations dollar-for-dollar.  

Please continue to support this important ministry through 2017.  Click here to learn more.

To Chapter Presidents:

National Philoptochos Minstry Commitments
material has been mailed to each chapter. This is the last year these materials will be sent as hard copies.  In the future, we request that chapters use the online material.  You can even find the 2017 materials online right now. 

Please go to:
http://www.philoptochos.org/resources/commitmentprogram/ or follow this path: www.philoptochos.org > Resources > Commitment Program
 
Please use either the hard copy or downloaded online copy of the
National Philoptochos Ministry Commitments/Programs- Payment (Coupon) Book, to assist your chapter in sending in your commitment payments in a timely way.

Thank you for your continuous and generous support of the National Philoptochos Ministry Commitments/Programs. The impact of your support is immeasurable and through your faithful and dedicated service, the lives of so many have been, and will be, greatly improved.
Faith is Believing Without Seeing
Jennifer Constantin ~ Arlene Siavelis Kehl ~ Anastasia Michals, Co-Chairs
 
The Philoptochos of Holy Trinity Church in Westfield, New Jersey was the first chapter in the Metropolis of New Jersey to kick off the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at the World Trade Center Philoptochos Fundraising Initiative in October 2014, and remarkably, they completed their commitment only a few months later. Other chapters in the Metropolis of New Jersey were inspired by this early example of Holy Trinity to reach its goal of $22,000 by adopting a simple program that entailed personal appeals to all stewards. Other plans quickly began to take root.
 
The Metropolis of New Jersey Philoptochos fulfilled its commitment of over $310,000 by the time the National Philoptochos held its 2016 Biennial Convention in Nashville, Tennessee.  The last installment came from the Saint Irene Philoptochos of Saint Thomas Church in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. 
 
Saint Irene reached and exceeded its goal of $9,200 by adopting a program that involved two major luncheons, the final one taking place on February 28th, 2016.  Following Sunday Services, Saint Irene’s Philoptochos hosted over 180 guests in the parish community center.
 
The event titled, Our Women in Leadership, gave guests the opportunity to hear speakers Catherine Avgiris, Executive Vice President and CFO of Comcast Cable, and Eleni Kousoulis, Esq., an Assistant Federal Public Defender and the sister of Danielle Kousoulis, who lost her life at Ground Zero during the terrorist attack and had been a Vice President at the financial services firm of Cantor Fitzgerald.
 
During her presentation, Eleni credited her mother and father’s immigrant journey to America as being a guiding example, at home and in the family business, laying a path to success in her career as a public defender in Delaware.  Eleni’s sister and best friend Danielle, was the main focus of her presentation, as she sighted her sister’s life in the community of Saint Thomas and in her position at Cantor Fitzgerald.
 
The life of Danielle Kousoulis is one to be celebrated by all Greek Americans.  She was the youngest daughter in a close-knit family who delighted in treating her parents, natives of Greece, to things they thought they would never have. When Danielle was eulogized, a lifelong friend said about her, she cared more about the feelings and problems of others than those of her own.
 
So when chapters of the Metropolis of New Jersey Philoptochos completed their Saint Nicholas commitments, the task seemed relatively uncomplicated since it was driven by personal memories; stories such as Danielle’s and those told by others who knew people who lost their lives on that fateful day.  It was driven by women who could still imagine the devastation, as they drove the highway across from the Manhattan skyline, or remembering those who survived the falling towers getting off of ferries transporting them to safety across the river from lower Manhattan to New Jersey.   They heard horrific stories firsthand of what took place.
 
The task of raising funds for the building of Saint Nicholas may not be so easy for women in parishes far away from downtown Manhattan because many need to see to believe, and most of us have not seen.  For the women of the Metropolis of New Jersey, it was easy because we saw.  But if you remember the story of our own Danielle, who may not be known but should never be forgotten, the task will be uncomplicated for you, too, because Danielle grew up in Saint Thomas, a New Jersey parish much like your own.  And as the Bible says, faith is believing without seeing.
 
Please support the local Philoptochos chapter(s) in your area or your Metropolis Philoptochos with your donations.  For further information and resources, visit www.philoptochos.org/news/saintnicholas.    






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Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society · National Philoptochos Office · 126 East 37th Street · New York, NY 10016 · USA

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