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Culture

Caffeine to Concrete: Chicago’s Greek Nursing Home Journey (1982-2002)

CHICAGO, IL – Greek American Press on April 20 announced the release of ‘Breaking Ground: The Inside Story of Chicago’s Greek Nursing Home Movement’ by John Psiharis. This book, the second in the ‘Hellenism in the Heartland Series,’ chronicles the years-long effort to establish a Greek-American nursing home in Chicago.

In December 1982, a handful of Greek-Americans gathered for coffee in the back room of the Elysion Restaurant, located in Chicago’s Budlong Woods neighborhood, to discuss unmet needs within Chicago’s Greek community and set into motion an unprecedented movement that spanned the generations, involved all facets of the community, and culminated in the opening of the Greek American Rehabilitation and Care Centre in 2002.

More than 40 years after that first meeting, Psiharis, with the substantial involvement of Dr. Elaine Thomopoulos, the co-founders of Greek-American Community Services and the Greek-American Nursing Home Committee, where they served as board members from inception through 2006, provides a behind-the-scenes insider’s account about how this monumental achievement came to be.

Site selection, zoning, rallying the community behind these efforts, raising funds, financing, groundbreaking, construction, and grand opening activities are covered, as are setbacks that ranged from broken political promises by Chicago politicians, internal disagreements, opening pains, and crushing debt. Through good times and bad, progress and setbacks, this diligent group persevered and navigated these challenges to accomplish the dream many thought impossible.

Psiharis reflected: “The primary reason that I wanted to write this book is to celebrate this monumental community achievement. It was something the community had never seen before or since. Many from all walks of life came together to make this happen. In detail, the book explains how this small group went from having coffee in the backroom of a restaurant and envisioning accomplishing this lofty endeavor to opening the doors to a five-star, state-of-the-art nursing home, now in its 22nd year of operation and considered among the best in the state of Illinois. This was no small project either. It was a $12 million project at the time, which is about $30 million in today’s dollars.”

He continued: “I imagine that the Nursing Home will continue to grow and thrive in the years to come, but the backstory of how a project of this magnitude came to fruition will fade over time. Many who knew and played a part in this accomplishment have passed on. Others have misplaced or discarded their records and photos over the years. When walking through the nursing home, one sees many names on plaques throughout the building and campus in memory or honor of individuals, organizations, and churches. This book offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into many of them and the part they play in this story.”

Breaking Ground is the second entry in the ‘Hellenism in the Heartland Series’ published by Greek American Press, an imprint of Psihco, LLC. The first, ‘Working to Preserve Our Heritage: The Incredible Legacy of Greek-American Community Services,’ was released in 2023. The third installment, ‘Hellenes in the Windy City: The Greeks in Chicago – 1970-2000,’ co-authored by Psiharis and Thomopoulos, is planned for 2025.

Both books are available in hardcover and e-book formats. The print books feature a comprehensive index while the e-books have color photos.

The print books are available through Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, and Ingram Spark.

The e-books are available through Amazon, Apple Books, Baker and Taylor, Barnes and Nobel, Bibliotheca, Borrow Box, Everand, Fable, Gardners, Odilo, Overdrive, Palace Marketplace, Smashwords, Tolino, Vivlio, and other online retailers.

For further information, please visit https://www.greekamericanpress.com.

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