By Fotis Kaliampakos – Special to the Hellenic News of America
In a glamorous event held at the luxurious Teaneck Marriott at Glenpointe, the Greek Children’s Fund celebrated its 40-year journey since its establishment. This philanthropic initiative stands as one of the most significant and touching endeavors within the Greek community. It is a foundation that assists children facing rare diseases, helping them come to New York to find the appropriate medical support in their battle.
It is not easy to imagine, for those who have not been in this situation, how challenging it is for both the children and their families. The mere mention of such a disease, especially when it concerns children, sends shivers down one’s spine. It was precisely for supporting these battles that this organization was created 40 years ago, a time when the gap between medical advancements for treating the disease in the United States and other countries, including Greece, was perhaps much wider than it is today. Coming to New York was a matter of life and death. Over the years, the fund has collected and spent over $10,000,000, with the goal of reaching $100 million!
Thousands of families have been helped, and some of these children were present at the event. Together with the children of the now-adult patients, they overcame the disease, continued their lives, and formed their own families, all thanks to the fund’s assistance. One of them, in the most touching speech of the evening, shared her personal story. She recounted the tale of a child who came to New York during the holiday season, thanks to the fund’s help. Her story, which was in stark contrast to the festive atmosphere of the illuminated metropolis, left a lasting impression. Her journey had a happy ending, and grateful for the fund’s support, she spoke at the event, alongside her child, expressing her gratitude and the need to support the organization’s work.
The event’s host, the current president of the organization, Sam Matthews, thanked the attendees for their presence and donations. He spoke proudly about the organization’s history and its work, with his two children assisting in the presentation, as the event had a strong family presence. The fund was established in 1983 by his father, Stanley Matthews (1931-2023), who passed away last March. The program also included his final message about the organization’s future.
Two companions of the founder, who stood by his side and dedicated themselves to the children over the years, were also honored: Ismini Michael and Marina Tsotsou. Honorary distinctions were also presented to Eirini Kechagia-Drakopoulos and Tina Anastas.
Emotions ran high in the room, especially during the speech of one of the children’s fathers, who narrated his struggle and how the organization helped him withstand the tremendous pressure, allowing him and his child to emerge victorious in the battle for life.
Among the distinguished Greek community members who attended the event were Dr. Panos Stavrianidis, President of the Federation of Greek Societies of New Jersey, and Paul Kotrotsios, publisher of the Hellenic News of America, who was thanked by the fund’s president for his contribution to the organization’s goals. Representatives of the well-known Greek restaurant organization “PAN GREGORIAN” also attended, including former New Jersey president George Siampoulis, as well as Dimitris Kafchitsas and Nikolaos Bardis from the New York “PAN GREGORIAN.”
His Grace Metropolitan of New Jersey, represented by Father Nektarios Kotrotsios, also attended the event.