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Greek CommunityEventsGreek Children's Fund Celebrates 40th Anniversary with Gala in November

Greek Children’s Fund Celebrates 40th Anniversary with Gala in November

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By Leslie Krowchenko, Special to the Hellenic News of America

When a child is ill, families refocus their lives from everyday issues to ensuring the youngster receives the best care.

Stanley Matthews understood the costs involved with lodging, transportation and daily necessities must still be paid.

Matthews, a Greek-American businessperson, established the Greek Children’s Fund (GCF) in 1983 to provide financial assistance toward the daily, non-medical needs of children of Hellenic descent and their families who suffer from cancer and life-threatening illnesses. The organization will celebrate 40 years of saving lives and attending to the moms, dads and siblings of those being treated with a gala Nov. 24 at the Teaneck (New Jersey) Marriott at Glenpointe.

sam-matthews-greek-childrens-fund 4“GCF provides a maximum of $10,000 to help defray ongoing expenses which families incur and we have almost never said no,” said Sam Matthews, Stanley’s son, who has served as the fund’s president for the past 20+ years. “The cost of healthcare is tremendously large and we are there to assist with other items.”

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sam-matthews-greek-childrens-fund-stanley-matthewsBased on the values of philanthropy, kindness and collaboration, GCF is an all-volunteer association built on Stanley Matthews’ altruism. His initial $1,000 donation provided the basis to aid more than 50 families in the first year; by the end of 1986, the fund had raised and disseminated in excess of $50,000 to help defray the cost of treating Greek children and assist and support families with some of their non-medical needs while at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. To date, GCF has raised more than $10 million and helped more than 10,000 families and their children be treated in the United States.

GCF is modelled on Matthews’ example. Volunteers, businesses, community groups and churches willingly share their time and talent and the Greek American community provides monetary and moral support. All involved realize the stress and vulnerability faced by families and their efforts strive to nourish them during challenging times.

“Every family has different needs and we are designed to accommodate them however we can,” said Matthews. “We have assisted families where one parent has had to take time off from work and are on the verge of losing their home to those who do not speak fluent English and need help with communication skills or navigating the health care system.”

The fund also relies on medical institutions to provide resources and knowledge. GCF maintains partnerships with Memorial Sloan Kettering; Schneider Children’s Hospital (SCH), New Hyde Park, New York; All Children’s Hospital, St. Petersburg, Florida and the Joseph Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack (New Jersey) University Medical Center. In addition to non-medical financial assistance, GCF provided the Greek-American community at SCH with professional bilingual/bicultural social services through a part-time social worker/program coordinator.

sam-matthews-greek-childrens-fund 2Just as Matthews has expanded upon his late father’s ideas, he looks to GCF’s board and committee members to implement new ways of magnifying the fund’s effectiveness. It has partnered with Greek entertainers, collaborated with National Greek Television (NGTV) to host several telethons and participated in the first Greek Night at Shea Stadium (now Citi Field), home of the New York Mets. During the pandemic, GCF assisted people of any age to combat the difficulties of COVID-19 and is working to educate individuals on the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle with programs and partners surrounding health, fitness and nutrition.

Maintaining its all-volunteer status allows GCF to encourage and incorporate the gifts and talents of everyone willing to help. Lawyers provide pro bono services; doctors and dentists offer treatment for all family members. Teachers tutor children and their siblings; families loan an extra vehicle and apartment owners with units near major children’s hospitals provide them for short-term use.

“We invite people to come to a meeting and learn about the fund,” said Matthews. “We are open-minded and respond to all ideas that are presented – people are willing to help and we are there to support them.”

GCF, which has built a multi-generational network of those aged 20-90, realizes the importance of encouraging individuals on the younger end of the age scale. High school students fulfill community service by mowing lawns, raking leaves or sheltering pets. New Gen: Hope for Life was established by a group of young members whose goal is to continue to build a strong vision and raise public awareness. Their enthusiasm reflects the tenets which Stanley Matthews embodied and his contemporaries have been practicing for years.

“It is so important to encourage our youth and young adults to become involved,” said Matthews. “Introducing them to philanthropy and promoting Hellenism at this stage hopefully means they will continue it all their lives.”

The gala will reflect that youthful spirit, as Gen Z volunteers will serve as the evening’s emcees. The night, featuring a cocktail hour, dinner, Greek music and dancing, is also a time for volunteers to meet and discuss GCF’s future.

“My wife, Anastasia, and I met at a GCF event,” said Sam. “We have come full circle – she is serving on the gala committee and our kids are now involved.”

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  • The Greek Children’s Fund 40th Anniversary Gala will be held Nov. 24 at the Teaneck (New Jersey) Marriott at Glenpointe. For information about event sponsorships or tickets, visit https://greekchildrensfund.org/.  Contact, [email protected], to join and learn more about the GCF
  • GCF is a Tax-Exempt Organization: 501(c)(3) | EIN: 31-1485731
  • Follow GCF on Social Media: Facebook.com/greekchildrendsfund | Instagram.com/greekchildrensfund | Linkedin.com/company/greekchildrensfund/

The copyrights for these articles are owned by the Hellenic News of America. They may not be redistributed without the permission of the owner. The opinions expressed by our authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Hellenic News of America and its representatives.

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