Anne Michals – Making Things Happen

Matthew 23:11 ‘But the greatest among you shall be your servant.’

New Jersey Metropolis President Anne Michals lives her faith. “To serve those less fortunate is the true test of our understanding of Christ’s teachings. We are given this opportunity to serve through Philoptochos and it should be our honor to do so,” Anne says.
 

In the beginning
 

Metropolis of New Jersey Philoptochos President Anastasia (Anne) Michals was born and raised in Jersey City, New Jersey. As a child she went to St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Jersey City with her family and attended Sunday School and Greek School with Bishop Andonios of Phasiane, Chancellor of the Archdiocese and former Spiritual Advisor to the National Philoptochos Board. Both of Anne’s parents were children of Pontian Greek immigrants who believed deeply in the educational opportunities that America provided. Her father, William Koles, was an Industrial Engineer who graduated from Yale University. Her mother, Stella Paskalides, holds several degrees from Jersey State University and spent her life as a devoted mother to five children and as a teacher in the Jersey City Public Schools. Anne credits her Pontian heritage for her work ethic and devotion to the Church. 

Anne’s love of children and her concern for the education of inner city kids drove her to the field of Urban Education.  She holds a Master’s Degree in Urban Education and Administration and a Bachelor’s Degree in English. She retired from her career as a school administrator and teacher to raise her children John and Anastasia (Bobbie) but has continued to be involved. She has a strong belief in the importance of education and its ability to lift people out of poverty. This belief led her to serve on the Manasquan Board of Education for nine years, four of which were as President. She is now the Vice President of the Manasquan High School Endowment Fund. 

Anne is married to Jeff Michals, recently retired from an executive position at a privately owned software company and a devoted supporter of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of New Jersey.  Anne told me that she feels truly blessed to have her daughter-in-law, Victoria Moutis, a woman of great faith and her extraordinary daughter who has spent the last eight years dedicated to the education of inner city children, currently in Brooklyn, NY. All the women closest to Anne, including the outstanding women in her family, are members of Philoptochos.



Faith and Philoptochos
 

After leaving her position as Board of Education President, Anne decided to actively live her faith through her Church, something she had wanted to do for many years. Although she had spent her life as a good Christian, she saw that the energy and love she brought to those around her and in her immediate family could be extended to others.  Anne recalls that it was her younger sister Daphne that led her to St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Anne recalls her sister saying ‘Christ expects all of us to love our families and do great things for them always. But the true test of our faith, the true meaning of love and sacrifice comes when we reach out to love and to sacrifice for someone we don’t know, someone not in our family circle, someone in need, someone who has no one to love.’
 

Anne was introduced to Philoptochos at St. George Church by Presvytera Angela Eugenis. One of the first parishioners Anne met was the Philoptochos Chapter President, Barbara Terlecsky, who invited her to join Philoptochos and who remains one of her best friends. A short time later Anne became a member of the Chapter Board. She also served as a Parish Council Secretary from 2007 to 2010 and became Philoptochos Chapter President in 2007, four years after she joined the organization.
 

Anne had a vision for her Chapter that included growth and the expansion of mission work.   She implemented a handbook that dealt with every single aspect of her Chapter’s management, from ministry commitments to projects and events and she encouraged committee chairs to be active, instilling the importance of teamwork and open communication. She emphasized how important it was for Board members to be ‘Ambassadors of Philoptochos’ and to strive to include all members on committees to expand the understanding of the Philoptochos mission. In her tenure as Chapter President, membership increased by 40%. She credits this success on a fresh perspective and true understanding of the need for philanthropy throughout the community and beyond. This fresh perspective coupled with her belief that all good leaders must truly own the responsibilities of their position, created an environment ripe for growth and positive change. Anne’s achievements as Chapter President have continued in her work as Metropolis President.




 Anne’s election to the Metropolis of New Jersey Philoptochos seemed to have taken place by chance. She had no intention of running but was encouraged to run by delegates present at the Annual Metropolis of New Jersey Clergy Laity Assembly. Her fate was determined; she would be an influential part of Philoptochos from that day forward. Accepting the role of Treasurer of the New Jersey Metropolis Philoptochos Board in 2009 she restructured procedures which brought positive change, growing the Social Services Program. In 2011, after two years as the Metropolis Treasurer, Anne was elected President.
 

Anne’s appointment to the National Philoptochos Board by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios in 2010, led her to a greater understanding of the remarkable work that is done by Philoptochos throughout the country and the world, as well as the challenges that accompany the mission. Working with the outstanding members of the National Philoptochos Board, she feels, has enabled her to fulfill her desire to live her faith, while touching humanity through philanthropy. As a Metropolis President she believes in leading by example and instills this belief in Chapter Presidents.
 

Anne believes that a sound process and a solid structure help organizations such as Philoptochos not only create stronger foundations but allow for growth. This is one focus of her presidency. She has also seen that structure helps draw younger women in, focusing on the objectives at hand, taking steps to set and reach goals. Anne does not just talk the talk, she walks the walk. At her Metropolis meeting she stated “Many of you have taken advantage of our leadership development program, Leadership Now, as we strove last year to ignite a sense of purpose and direction throughout the Chapter membership. Good leadership is something that is so important to every Chapter, as Presidents and Board members must exhibit all the qualities they hope to see in each member of Philoptochos.” She also instituted ‘Circles of Interest’ throughout her Metropolis to help every member or prospective member find their place, their purpose, and help the Chapter use the skills and strengths of their members in the best way.
 

Anne has great love and respect for His Eminence Metropolitan Evangelos citing that he expresses his love for all things Philoptochos and is a great support to her. She praises her Metropolis Board and every Chapter within the Metropolis as she sees how all factors must come together for the mission of Philoptochos to be fulfilled. As Anne says, “The Metropolis of New Jersey Philoptochos Board is comprised of some of the most dynamic women in the Philoptochos. I am so privileged to know and to work with them.”
 

Anne has said, “The women of the Chapters in our Metropolis are the backbone of our Philoptochos. Their continued service to those in need and the Church move us to reflect on the female founders of Philoptochos who began the important work of helping the people of the Greek Orthodox faith who came to this country with little in their pockets, but enormous hope in their hearts.  Who was to be there to help them if not for Philoptochos?”
 


Hurricane Sandy – New Jersey
 

“Our Philoptochos saw conditions throughout the Metropolis of New Jersey that were heart wrenching and forced many of us to put aside what we were doing, what we had planned for, so that we were able to make a difference in the lives of those who were suffering. In the first few days after the storm, I received a call from His Eminence Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey, who uttered these simple words, as he tasked Philoptochos to take charge, he said, ‘Anne, help our people,’” Anne Michals said.
 


The Metropolis of New Jersey Philoptochos had various fundraisers that they held on their own and that other organizations held on their behalf in addition to funding received from the National Philoptochos Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund. Through His Eminence Metropolitan Evangelos’ leadership and the Metropolis of New Jersey Philoptochos’ energy and perseverance  a ground effort was launched and all Chapters responded by organizing and gathering supplies and funds immediately after the storm hit. Living in one of the hardest hit towns on the Jersey Shore, Anne saw first-hand the destruction and suffering in the storm’s wake.
 




Anne Michals credits the Metropolis Board’s 2nd Vice President and National Board Member Eleni Constantinides with one of the key areas of the successful organization of the Metropolis of New Jersey Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Program. The Program continues to review cases that come before the committee. Anne cites the extraordinary work of Metropolis Treasurer Stella Wacker who executed the tough task of keeping track of funding. These women were supported by all members of the Metropolis of New Jersey Philoptochos Board, especially 1st Vice President and National Board Member Alexis Limberakis who worked to distribute National Gift Cards, as well as shared in the visitation of chapters and Sandy victims. 
 

As Anne said, “No one can truly know one’s faith until you stand with those who are suffering and witness in their eyes their abounding faith.  Christ is present in those who believe and this is the core of their ability to be grateful for any and all of life’s blessings. The blows of circumstance do not hinder their faith.” 
 

During one of the Board’s visitations to the hard-hit community of Atlantic City, Anne wrote to Chapter Presidents, “We went to restore their faith and they restored ours.”
 

Onwards and Upwards
 

The 2014 National Clergy/Laity and Philoptochos Convention will take place in the city of Philadelphia within the New Jersey Metropolis. Plans are in the early stages but Anne reports that the energy level and commitment are high in the Metropolis of New Jersey. During the recent 2013 Annual Metropolis of New Jersey Clergy Laity Assembly and Philoptochos Convention, Anne said to the delegates, “We will show the entire country the true meaning of Jersey hospitality.”
 

“Service is the essence of philanthropy and charity. Help others find it within themselves and embrace the idea.”
                                  -Anne Michals

 









-Vivian Siempos

Social Media – Best Practices & Tips

As a continuation from the previous week's post defining social media and its importance in staying connected not only as a Chapter but also to National Philoptochos through the Philoptochos Facebook page, this post focuses on best practices and tips to help as you launch and develop your social media:
 

When creating your Facebook page or overall Social Media Strategy it is always good to start with a goal – what is the purpose of your page(s) and what are you going to accomplish. If you have an existing Facebook page, it may be to increase followers, if you are just starting out, it may be to inform members of events and meetings and encourage questions online to keep the discussion in one place.
 

Other goals to consider:

•    Enhance existing communication
•    Increase membership participation – give members a voice – allow for collaboration
•    New initiatives through discussion – ask questions
•    Motivate members
•    Strengthen your relationships
•    Create a larger community of supporters
•    Raise awareness of the Philoptochos mission
 

By creating a Facebook page for your Chapter, you will be establishing a presence where people spend most of their time. You will be able to educate your local community about your philanthropic endeavors, encourage them to participate at events or fundraisers and garner greater supporter overall.
 

You will have an avenue by which to connect to prospective members by giving them a way to learn about your Chapter. We live in a world where people can and do educate themselves and proactively seek out information, Google is certainly evidence of this.
 

Facebook offers you the ability to create event pages so that you can offer all information needed for your events, invite members and friends, spread awareness and also get a feel for how many people will be attending. If you need exact numbers or require ticket sales prior, then make that clear in the message. An event page is an efficient way to increase turn-out and build excitement leading up to the big day.
 

Share photos and videos of recent events or volunteer activities on your Chapter’s Facebook wall to engage your audience and show what you are doing, as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Through your pictures and posts you will be telling your Chapter’s story. The list of possibilities is endless as far as how a message can be delivered but the message remains the same, the Philoptochos mission is at the heart of everything that is posted.
 
Some items to keep in mind as you begin, all the posts and comments on your Philoptochos Chapter page should align with the Philoptochos identity and mission. Content should add value to your members experience. Keep information relevant, timely and accurate. Comments, questions and discussions are benefits of a Facebook page. It is best to respond in a timely manner to keep the discussion going. If you encounter a negative comment and you feel comfortable commenting on your Facebook wall and believe it will benefit others, then you certainly can do that. If it is something you believe is better dealt with privately or you feel more comfortable dealing with it privately then send a private Facebook message. You are a representative of Philoptochos so everything you post directly reflects not only your own Chapter but the organization as a whole. It is important to remember that once a message is on your wall, it is owned by the audience, you must consider how your message will be perceived and know that it may be shared. Above all, have fun!
 

Please share your news and events, pictures and videos with me at vsiempos@philoptochos.org so I may share them on the National Philoptochos page: https://www.facebook.com/philoptochos.




Below are some fabulous examples of Chapter Facebook pages:







*I am always looking for Guest Bloggers so please reach out if you enjoy writing and love Philoptochos – you can write about something wonderful happening in your own Chapter or about a topic that you believe will interest and educate all of us. If you are interested or know of someone who is interested in writing or would be a good resource please contact me: vsiempos@philoptochos.org
 

*A Philoptochos Linkedin page has been created, please follow and link to it. It’s another way to show you belong to this wonderful organization and a great way to let others in your network know you belong to a philanthropic non-profit that does such good works in the community, nationwide and worldwide. Here is the Philoptochos Linkedin page: http://www.linkedin.com/company/greek-orthodox-ladies-philoptochos-society


- Vivian Siempos

An Introduction to Social Media

Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing.

-Rollo May
 
As you read the title of this post, you may be thinking, “I’m on Facebook, I already know about social media.” If you are already on Facebook, that is wonderful and you probably see the community that exists within. If you are not on Facebook, I encourage you to make a profile and see it for yourself. The great thing about it is you choose your level of involvement, some people post about their every move while others have a profile just to keep up with the latest happenings of their friends and the organizations they support. I encourage you, if you are on Facebook or if you are new to it, to “Like” the Philoptochos page on Facebook and encourage your friends, family, neighbors, and other organizations to “Like” us. The Philoptochos Facebook page is our community page and it is a way for us all to engage in conversation, to be a family and to share ideas.




This post is about taking social media further and making it work for your Philoptochos Chapter.
 

I encourage your Chapter to create their own Philoptochos Chapter page where you can post information about meetings and events or reach out to garner support or volunteers. It is a way for the members of your Chapter to always feel connected. Introducing social media will engage existing members and attract new members. Since social media is a form of two-way communication, it encourages conversation.
 

You may have heard the term, viral reach. Facebook pages of friends are interconnected. If your friend posts something, you will see the post on your own news feed as will their other friends. If you like the post, comment on the post, or share the post, it will appear on your wall and now not only do their Facebook friends see the post but now your Facebook friends also see the post. If others share that same post on their page, it causes a wider and wider reach. Basically, your audience has its own audience.  Viral reach is the number of unique people who see a post.
 

This is the reason it is so important for you as an individual to not only “Like” the Philoptochos page but also to like, share, and comment on posts, you will be helping the Philoptochos message and mission reach more people ~ much like a kindness begetting kindness ~ likes beget likes.





For your Philoptochos Chapter, which may have little or no budget for marketing an event, program, or recruitment, social media is really the way to go as there is a low barrier to entry. Facebook is free to use and does not require any special skills other than the ability to use a computer, that’s it!
 

To create your Philoptochos Chapter page, go to www.facebook.com/page and follow the step by step instructions offered. You will need to have a name ready which can be, as examples, your Philoptochos Chapter:
  • St. Sophia Philoptochos
  • St. Sophia Philoptochos Chapter
  • St. Sophia Philoptochos – Melbourne, FL
Or your Parish:
  • Philoptochos Society of St. Dionysios Greek Orthodox Church
  • St. Dionysios Greek Orthodox Church Philoptochos
You can use the Philoptochos logo as your profile picture or another picture that reflects your Chapter. The Philoptochos logo can be found here: http://www.philoptochos.org/resources/logo. If you are unable to retrieve it from this page, please contact me at vsiempos@philoptochos.org and I will send it to you.
 

Once you have set up your page, then it is time to invite friends from your own Facebook network. Encourage all your Philoptochos sisters to “Like” your page and encourage them to also invite their friends. This will create a community where you can post information about upcoming meetings, pose questions about upcoming events, and spread the word about Philoptochos in your community.
 

Social media is not a fad, it is here to stay. Now is the time to embrace it, invite others to join and engage the women in your Chapter and in your greater community to participate.
I’m here for any questions you have along the way, don’t hesitate to contact me: vsiempos@philoptochos.org.
 

More tips to come in the coming weeks, check back every Thursday for the newest Philanthropy by Philoptochos post and share, share, share!!




-Vivian Siempos



If you haven't already, click on the link to "Like" Philoptochos on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/philoptochos





Jeannie Ranglas ~ A Mother to Many

Christos Anesti!
I want to begin this post by wishing all the mothers, grandmothers, aunts, Godmothers, and friends a Happy Mother’s Day! Thank you for touching lives and making a difference, every day.


Following this theme, we are featuring a woman who we touched on in the previous post, whose kindness, love, and belief in the mission of Philoptochos makes her not only a devoted mother to her two children but a mother to the masses. 



Jeannie Ranglas became a member of Philoptochos in her early twenties, shortly after she was married and moved from Chicago, IL to San Diego, CA. She married in 1978, in a Greek Orthodox Church that is celebrating its 75th Anniversary this year. She loved the priest  so much that when he said they needed another church to accommodate all the faithful in the community, she jumped at the opportunity to not only help build the church as a benefactor but also to join him in establishing the new church.


When the church was built, her priest invited six women from his parish to his home; he hand-picked them to be the leaders of their new Philoptochos Chapter. Jeannie became a board member and from that day on, she was immersed in the good works of Philoptochos. She became Chapter President in a growing parish before the age of 30. Jeannie was President for eight years and when she left the post to allow for someone new to take the reins, she became Parish Council President.


Jeannie’s daughter has been on her own Philoptochos Chapter Board for the past two years, she is 27 years old. She plans to run again. 


His Eminence Metropolitan Anthony of San Francisco, of blessed memory, insisted that Jeannie become President of the Metropolis Philoptochos. When he first mentioned it, Jeannie’s daughter was a junior in high school and Jeannie felt that she needed to be available for her for at least two more years before she could devote herself fully to the position. She had also never been on the Metropolis Philoptochos board which made her hesitate as she had no idea what the position entailed.


As Jeannie reflects on her tenure, she realizes that she has now been on the Metropolis board, in some capacity, for over ten years. She has never looked back. Before his death, His Eminence Metropolitan Anthony made Jeannie promise him that she would be the next Metropolis President and Jeannie kept her word, becoming Metropolis Philoptochos President under His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos, the present Metropolitan of San Francisco.
Jeannie loves Philoptochos. She knows that she makes a difference in people’s lives. She wants her members, especially her board members to love Philoptochos as much as she does. She feels that every member of her board is in synch which she appreciates and since they are from different regions within the Metropolis, she knows she can trust them to oversee each region since she can’t be everywhere at once, although she does make an effort to be in most places, jetting off from one place to the next. One of her goals as Metropolis President is to empower all members of Philoptochos to do something to help others.
 

She has instilled a good work ethic and a philanthropic mind set in her children as well. Her daughter is a member of Philoptochos and has been for several years and her son has always offered a helping hand. Her yiayia and mother, members of Philoptochos, instilled these values in Jeannie as a young child.  She believes that there is something for everyone in Philoptochos and that one just needs to find their niche or needs to be helped to find it and then everything comes together.
 

Jeannie was at Children’s Hospital near Fresno, CA ten years ago when she looked up and read something on the wall that would change the way she thought forever, it spoke of how one would be remembered, not for the things they owned but for the difference they made in the world. This wall post reminded Jeannie to be thankful. Every morning when she wakes up, she says to herself, “I’m going to help somebody today.”
 

When she speaks about her Philoptochos sisters she says, “I am blessed to get to know these women.” Philoptochos is a core in Jeannie’s life. Her belief is that the legacy of the Philoptochos women is their constant good works. “There are so many dynamic women in Philoptochos,” Jeannie said. Her best friends have come from Philoptochos and the church.
Many times all it takes is acceptance and support to gain new members, a warm embrace, a kind ear, or a positive outlook. She remembers seeing a woman in church who seemed lost; she was going through a divorce and had three children to take care of. Jeannie embraced her, “You never know whose life you will change,” she said. The woman found her place in the church and continues to serve.

We are blessed, we have been empowered to serve. 
-Jeannie Ranglas

There are two ministries that are close to Jeannie’s heart and that solidify her role as a mother to many. The Bishop Anthony Philoptochos Student Aid Endowment Fund (BAPSAEF) was established over 25 years ago.  It was established through the spiritual vision and foresight of His Eminence Metropolitan Anthony and the support of the Metropolis of San Francisco Philoptochos. The mission of the Fund is to provide financial assistance for seminarians and students from the Metropolis of San Francisco attending Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology and Hellenic College, in Brookline, Massachusetts. The San Francisco Metropolis Philoptochos gives approximately $150,000 a year to help students pay down their debt. Jeannie goes to graduation every year and takes the students and their families out to lunch and then attends the BBQ. The Fund’s goal is to help students graduate from school as debt free as possible. They also have an Adopt-a-Student program for seminarians and students which is not a monetary commitment but a supportive one, sending notes and keeping the students and seminarians in touch with their community. Each seminarian or student that is helped by the Metropolis is also asked to contribute to the Metropolis in some way, whether that is being a counselor at Camp Agape or working on the website. They get to know the community and the community gets to know them.
 



The second ministry is Kids ‘n’ Cancer Camp Agape whose mission is to provide support for children afflicted with cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Camp Agape allows families the opportunity to enjoy four carefree summer days away from hospitals and doctor’s offices, providing opportunities for enjoyment, learning and bonding in a safe setting. Jeannie says that the experience for kids with cancer and their families is like going to Disneyland for the first time. They leave many of their cares behind and are able to enjoy themselves without the constant reminder of their illness. At present, there are five Camp Agape locations. This ministry is for underprivileged families who would be unable to take a trip otherwise.
Beyond the camps, the San Francisco Metropolis Philoptochos’ Kids ‘n’ Cancer ministry assists two oncology transportation companies that transport families from one hospital to another and assists families who have financial hardship. Last year they helped defray the cost of six children’s burials.
 

Jeannie Ranglas is truly a mother to all and similar to being a mother, being the Metropolis Philoptochos President is a huge commitment and a lot of work but Jeannie Ranglas loves what she does and that makes it all worth it.

-Vivian Siempos


As a reminder…
His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos and the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco Philoptochos Board cordially invite you to attend an Agape Celebration of Love to benefit Kids ‘n’ Cancer Ministry.

Sunday, May 26, 2013
4:00 to 7:00 pm
Big Canyon Country Club
One Big Canyon Drive
Newport Beach, CA
$75 per person



Please follow the link to view the e-vite: http://sfphiloptochos.org/assets/forms/2013KidsnCancerEvite.pdf

Camp Agape ~ Providing Love, Laughter and Respite

Jeannie Ranglas, Metropolis of San Francisco Philoptochos President is a true dynamo. She is petite, pretty, and polite, a true California girl (originally from Chicago) with an optimistic outlook. Although some may see her kind demeanor in conflict with success, Jeannie proves that kindness and success are not mutually exclusive but that kindness is a necessary element for success.

One of Jeannie’s recent achievements has been the Metropolis of San Francisco’s Inaugural Gala held on March 2nd at the Ritz Carlton of which Jeannie was a Co-chairman with George Marcus, church philanthropist and businessman.  Jeannie and George led a committee which planned the evening. The Gala was sold out and $1 million was raised for an endowment for the ministries of the Metropolis, no small feat.

One of the wonderful things Jeannie and the entire San Francisco Metropolis Philoptochos are involved in is the Kids ‘n’ Cancer Camp Agape Ministry. Jeannie is the President.


As stated in the Metropolis of San Francisco Philoptochos website:
The mission of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco Philoptochos  Kids ‘n’ Cancer Camp Agape Ministry is to provide support for children afflicted with cancer and other life-threatening diseases. The Ministry offers a life-changing experience for children and their families. It provides opportunities for enjoyment, learning, and building self-esteem and confidence in a safe setting. The kindness and caring that surrounds them offers an ideal environment for therapy and healing.

Camp Agape is a special place where families have the opportunity to enjoy four carefree summer days, away from the sights and sounds of doctors, laboratories, and hospitals, where they spend so much of their lives. Children and their families engage in hands-on group activities that provide a reprieve from their daily challenges. For children and their families, this is a truly therapeutic camp experience.
Kids ‘n’ Cancer Camp Agape is a Philoptochos ministry that began at the St. Nicholas Ranch in Dunlap, California and has expanded to camps in: Portland, Oregon; Seattle, Washington; San Diego, California; and Prescott, Arizona. The ministry supports the Emilio Nares Foundation, which provides oncology transportation programs in San Diego and Orange counties. Camp Agape offers an all-expense-paid summer camp experience to hundreds of cancer-affliected children and their families from less fortunate homes.

Kids’n’Cancer: What is a day worth?


by: Mary Peros

As I get older I often ask myself, "What exactly is one day of happiness worth?" I don't have a good answer. In the course of a lifetime, is only a second. Yet, I sense it is worth a lot. I saw what four happy days were worth to 25 young leukemia and lymphoma patients at the most recent Kids'n'Cancer Camp. I was amazed to find out that one of the biggest smiles I saw during the Grand Ball was on the face of the most critically ill child at camp. Lorena, who is terminal, came to the ball with purple sprayed hair and glamorous make-up. She was wearing a gown we fashioned out of satin fabric and draped around her a few hours before. I actually helped with her "gown."  She was not fussy. Everything we did to embellish it was fabulous to her. I remember that we made a flower out of scrap fabric and she proudly wanted it pinned on her shoulder. She was not thinking about her illness. She was not being poked and probed and biopsied. I was so afraid to pin the flower on her probably because I knew what she has been through and continues to go through each day. At that moment, however, and for those few days, she was laughing from the heart. What exactly is that worth?  And, are we ever assured of more than just today anyway?
 

This ministry of our Metropolis has a value that goes beyond the plastic water guns, the bingo games and the wonderful crafts. It offers the value of real quality time to families who deal with illness on a day-to-day basis. We hear about "quality time" a lot these days. Talk to your kids. Turn off the television. Eat a family meal together. And, yes, those are examples of some very positive alternatives for families. However, for these children and their families, quality was at a different level. A basketball game between the dads and kids was absolutely perfect. Quilts were made, moms were pampered, dads chatted, and life stories were shared. We visited the beautiful monastery and the children's eyes opened so wide when they entered the chapel. They marveled at the chandelier and that it swings in the presence of angels.
On the last day a tree was planted to commemorate the camp. We prayed for the health of the children and families leaving and we prayed for those we have lost. Each child and parent put a shovel full of dirt into the base of the tree. Many of these children were five or six years-old. Usually you put a shovel into a child's hand and you would see a sense of playfulness. There were no smiles on anyone's faces at that moment. Even though some of them were so young, they were all well aware of what could be. But for four magic days in the middle of summer, in a camp nestled in the foothills beside the mountains near Fresno, each day was priceless.

~These reflections were written on June 22, 2012 by Mary Peros, a Metropolis Philoptochos Board Member and first time attendee of Camp Agape.


His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos and the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco Philoptochos Board cordially invite you to attend an Agape Celebration of Love to benefit Kids ‘n’ Cancer Ministry.

Sunday, May 26, 2013 
4:00 to 7:00 pm 
Big Canyon Country Club
One Big Canyon Drive
Newport Beach, CA 

$75 per person

Please follow the link to view the e-vite: http://sfphiloptochos.org/assets/forms/2013KidsnCancerEvite.pdf


-Vivian Siempos