FLUSHING, NY – Saints work not only through miracles but by inspiring others through their example. In the year 2000 the Sts. Cosmas and Damianos, known as the Agioi Anargyroi, physicians who healed the sick without charge, inspired some member of the Washington Heights parish by that name to establish the Hope for Life organization that is dedicated to helping sick people in need.
On November 16 they held their annual fundraiser at Terrace on the Park, which was titled A Hug Full of Love. The organization’s founder and president, Irene Dracopoulos told The National Herald that the event was “dedicated to two little angels, four year old Niki Frangou, and Eleni-Barbara Manolis of Greece, a 27 year-old single mother of a three-and-a-half year old girl.
Rosa Pappas, the assistant treasurer, welcomed the members, friends and supporters and invited Fr. Ierotheos Markopoulos, the pastor of Sts. Anargyroi, to offer the invocation. He told TNH that “when the ladies wanted to create their association, which was something, missing from our community, they came to and asked me to be their spiritual father. “
Since then, he said the members and officer of Hope for Life, who come from all over the New York area, “have created a very active organization. The try to do their best and they have helped many people who have serious illnesses.” He noted that the St. Anargyroi parish – he himself, the parish council and the Philoptochos – strongly support them.
St. Anargyroi also raises funds for Hope for Life through its annual Palm Sunday fish luncheon.
Fr. Ierotheos emphasized that no matter how well covered someone is with health insurance, when there is a serious illness it is not enough. “But we have this association, and these women are like honeybees, gathering money to help, not with small amounts, but substantially, the sick in the community and some who come from Greece. “
People mainly hear about the group by word of mouth according the vice president, Soula Dimitropoulos , who told TNH “When we learn about people who need help we immediately try to see what we can do. “
Hristina Tsatsaron has been a member from the very beginning. Olga Spyrou, the secretary, was introduced to Drakopoulos through the latter’s sister.
Drakopoulos told TNH that during the past 13 years “we have received much love and we have given much love, in the form of hope that we have given to the sick and their families, and the love we have received comes from those who stand by us and attend our events.”
And she is not referring only to New Yorkers. Dracopoulos said that “We thank The National Herald, which has supported us from the beginning….it is distributed everywhere and we are now widely known.
Eleni Manoli suffers from Recklinghausen Neurofibromitosis Type 1, which took her father George’s life. She was diagnosed when she was 16 and has undergone three operations. Last June she was diagnosed with eight tumors. Doctors in Greece acknowledged that she needed to go abroad for treatment, specifically the Comprehensive Neurofibromitosis Center of NYU Langone Medical Center in Manhattan.
Hope for Life helped make it possible.
Her sister Angie-Joan Manolis attended the event. She offered her family’s deepest thanks and said her sister looks forward to thanking them personally. She told THH and was very thankful for being there and for the people she met that night. “I think God is everywhere.”
Angie told TNH story of how the links in the chain of miracles were fashioned.
In May 2011, she was invited to attend the Greek America Foundation’s Gabby Award’s in New York. There, she learned about Dr. John Golfinos, the renowned physician and researcher who helped establish the Center at NYU. With that in mind, two months ago she bought her sister’s MRI to Dr. Golfinos, and she was accepted by the clinic.
Angie learned about Hope for Life through friend and they offered to help.
Drakopoulos said the group’s purpose is to” gather members of the community together to help our fellow human beings who are a little less blessed in life than we are.”
The most touching moment was the gift made by 5 and-a-half year old Panagioti Patras. He broke his piggy bank and donated its $32 dollars in contents.