BOSTON – More than fifteen thousand people of various ages and of every nationality, religion, race, and educational level will enjoy a festive family Thanksgiving meal, thanks to The Manolis Family Foundation of Dracut, Massachusetts. They have distributed 2,500 turkeys and many other food items for the Thanksgiving meal.
Everything started twenty-six years ago when Nick and Voula Manolis cooked 8 to 10 turkeys and delivered them to needy families and today the number has skyrocketed to fifteen thousand people.
This philanthropic and sacred endeavor was gradually passed into the hands of their son Elias who continues in his parents’ footsteps. Elia’s wife Eleni is his dynamic partner who directed the preparation.
Speaking to TNH Elias said that “the Holidays are the best time of the year, and there is no better feeling than sitting down at my Thanksgiving table knowing over 15,000 people will be eating a Thanksgiving dinner because we are fortunate enough to be able to give back to the community.”
He said that “since I was a young boy my parents always instilled the importance of giving to those less fortunate. My dad always told me a saying that my Yiayia used to tell him “give with one hand and God will give back to you with both of his.”
He added, “it is encouraging indeed to see over 400 people that come volunteer and make our project a success.”
Elias is a very fine and promising young man, well educated, and good businessman – the pride of his parents. He likes to get involved in the affairs of the Greek-American Community, saying, “I love my heritage and I am very passionate about it. I am a new member of the National Hellenic Society. A few weeks ago we had a very successful conference in California and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Antonis Diamataris was the keynote speaker.”
Asked if he goes to church, he said “as often as I can. I belong to the St George Antiochian Orthodox parish in Lowell and St Constantine and Helen in Andover.”
Asked why he does not attend the Greek parish of the Transfiguration in Lowell, he said “I don’t go to the Transfiguration because ten years ago, the whole parish council was removed by Metropolitan Methodios. My dad was the president of the parish council.” It is noted here that the entire Manolis family attends the St. George Antiochian parish, as do many other Greek Orthodox families who were driven away by Methodios, who had even prohibited them from receiving Holy Communion because they declined to obey the demands of the parish priest to give him a raise.
Archbishop Elpidophoros is trying to close this wound as well. Three days after his election in May he received Elia’s parents Nick and Voula Manolis at the Ecumenical Patriarchate and spent time with them. When he liturgized at the Cathedral of Boston back in September the entire Manolis family received Holy Communion from the Archbishop’s hands.
Elias Manolis with his wife Eleni and his father Nick the evening of the preparation for the deliveries of the Thanksgiving food items to the needy.Photo:TNH/Theodore Kalmoukos.
Elias has a lot of love and respect for Archbishop Elpidophoros. He said, “I feel blessed to have met the Archbishop. The first thing I noticed about him was his smile – it was very refreshing to see someone in such a high position in the Church always smiling. His name says it all, Elpidophoros, the one who brings hope.” He added that “he is the type of an Archbishop my generation has been waiting for. Everywhere he goes, he goes out of his way to engage the children and the youth. That is the most important. He cannot fix decades’ worth of problems and mismanagement in one day, but we are here to support him in any way we can and make the Church grow. I deeply believe in His Eminence’s mission and I will support it to the best of my ability. As I tell him every time I see him, whatever you need, I’m here.”
When we asked him what would it take to return to the parish that he belonged to as a young boy, the Transfiguration in Lowell, he said “honestly, the parish I belonged to doesn’t exist anymore. As much as it pains me to say it, but the parish is not the building it is the people that came to church and unfortunately a majority of the parishioners left after the removal of my father and the parish council.”
Elias believes that “the Church needs to take a step back and formulate a strategic plan for the future and figure out a way to get people back into church. Also the Archdiocese needs to restructure itself because the Metropolises have created divisions. People want transparency from churches. We need to encourage people, especially the youth, to take action and start getting involved in the community and taking leadership positions in the churches and other Greek Organizations.”
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Two US military veterans who disappeared three months ago while fighting with Ukrainian forces against Russia arrived home to Alabama on Saturday, greeted by hugs, cheers and tears of joy at the state's main airport.
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