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Politics

Chicagoans’ X-Mas Meal of Love in Athens

 

Dimitrious and Eleni Bousis were the generous benefactors of the Christmas Day meal enjoyed by 1300 homeless and poverty-stricken people in Athens.

Dimitrious and Eleni are two businesspeople and philanthropists who are long-time benefactors in the Greek-American community, especially in Chicago and the state of Illinois.

The Christmas donation, as was pointed out by Dimitrious, is but one of a number of charitable actions that Eleni Bousis has undertaken in Greece. Her donations have a multiplier effect, as the money that she offers does not only help the poor also commercial providers there.

Eleni has opened a bank account in Greece which she manages with her brother, attorney George Palyvos, who resides in Athens. George orders the food and all of the other goods and pays by debit card; this way every dollar they offer is maximally utilized.

The meals of love and all of the other donations are implemented in cooperation with the Municipality of Athens, as in the case with the Christmas meal in Athens, organized by the Municipality of Athens Center of Reception and Solidarity (KYADA).

The meal included dinner, kourambiedes (powdered sugar-covered almond-filled cookies), melomakarona (honey-dipped Christmas cookies) and a warm hospitality and fellowship for more than 1000 homeless and needy people.

The meal was served by KYADA employees and volunteers. There were 700 participants at the facility and about 600 of the poor and senior citizens chose to take the food and sweets home.

Dimitrious “Jimmy” Bousis was born in 1953 in Prosymni, Argos, where he spent his childhood. In 1961, his parents, the late Michalis and Eleni Bousis, decided to come to the United States for the purpose of earning $10,000 and returning to Prosymni, but even today, as Dimitrious quipped, “we have not managed to get the money together so as to repatriate ourselves.”

Dimitrious and Eleni, whose maiden name Palyvos, met in high school and fell in love. In 1973, with their parents set against their getting married, they eloped and went to Greece and had their wedding with only seven people in attendance.
They returned to Chicago and had four children: Michalis, Victoria, Evangelos, and George, and two grandchildren, Dimitrious, and Michalis.

Dimitrious studied to become an industrial engineer and in 1981 he decided to return to Greece to work for Olympic Airways. However, conditions were not favorable. A year later he returned to Chicago and began to build his own business empire, stone by stone.

In 1986 he decided to partner with another prominent Greek, Pantelis “Pandelo” Tzotzolis and they opened their first store with a total area of 2500 square feet under the name “Central Park Produce.”

Seven years later, they were successful in opening their second store, “Cermak Produce.” There were subsequent supermarkets that followed and this way, they ended up with a chain of 15 stores under the name “Cermak Fresh Market.”

The chain is one of the Midwest’s up-and-coming businesses. After Illinois, he started conquering Wisconsin.

Although each one of the stores has its own character and the next one is always bigger and more modern than the previous one, the chain maintains its family character intact.

What distinguishes Dimitrious and Eleni Bousis is not only their generosity, but also their love for Greece, Hellenism, the Greek-American community and the Church; and there are several Greek-American organizations in Chicago, as well as the Hellenic National Museum, that have benefited from their generosity.

The president of the Cypriot Brotherhood of Chicago, Stavros Theofanus, in speaking to TNH, expressed his admiration for the Bousises’ generosity and among other things he emphasized that “Eleni is one of the greatest philanthropists of the Chicago community. She has made numerous and in fact, large donations, which are not widely known to the public, because whatever she does, she does it with love and respect for her fellow man.”

Palyvos pointed out that “Eleni is a big-hearted, brave soul, and generous lady. She is charismatic…a gift of God to mankind.”

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