It was all about good works and helping feed and clothe the homeless at the Holy Cross Brooklyn Outreach Center’s (HCBOC) fourth annual fundraiser.
The event was held on Monday, Feb. 25 at Leo’s Casa Calamari in Bay Ridge. The organization was founded in 2013 to provide holistic care for the less fortunate, including physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
Since March 2008, Orthodox Christians in communities throughout the borough have been conducting midnight runs to bring food, clothing and toiletries to New York City’s homeless. These community efforts inspired a group of Orthodox philanthropists to become involved and help fund the effort.
In 2013, HCBOC was established as a charitable organization open to all communities in order to promote philanthropy throughout the borough and New York City.
Board members include the Rev. Gerasimos Makris of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church in Bay Ridge and community leaders Maria Vasaka-Monioudis, Zoe Koutsoupakis, Ioannis Pavlakos, Peter Kontopirakis, Angela Athineos and Claudia Zain.
“From day one of the Midnight Run, Father Gerasimos has been our leader and our role model,” said Koutsoupakis. “We have a lot of young people who joined our organization who go out every month. We encourage anyone to join us and volunteer, especially young people. We need help to keep doing the work that we do. It’s a great feeling helping the needy and homeless, and that’s what we’re here for.”
Current HCBOC programs include the Homeless Midnight Run and Outreach on the Go. For the Homeless Midnight Run, the organization prepares sandwiches and food packages along with clothing and toiletries to distribute to the homeless. For Outreach on the Go, HCBOC volunteers prepare home-cooked meals for home delivery.
The event was hosted by Makris and Vasaka-Monioudis. This year’s honorees were Foodtown of Bay Ridge, represented by Assistant Manager John Colberg, for its help with Outreach on the Go; William Stoddard for being a driver on the Midnight Run since 2008; Katherine Madimenos for baking cookies every month for the Midnight Run and St. Mary’s Antiochian Orthodox Church Deacon Farid Farkouh for his spiritual guidance and participating in almost every Midnight Run.
“It’s my honor to be here to accept this award and recognition on behalf of Foodtown,” said Colberg. “We are a community-based store and we are delighted to help out this organization always any way we can.”
Vasaka-Monioudis thanked all the volunteers and everyone in the room for their efforts before inviting the organization’s board members to come up and be recognized.
“I’m proud to report that next month is our 11th anniversary,” said Vasaka-Monioudis. “In 11 years, we’re prepared and distributed 45,000 meals to the homeless, countless bags of clothes, hats, scarves, blankets, toiletries, shoes and supplies. Our On the Go program is in its fifth year and it provides food to the elderly and shut-ins in our community. We’ve served over 5,000 bags of groceries to our neighbors in need right in our own Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst neighborhoods.”
The Very Rev. Fr. Michael Ellias, pastor of St. Mary’s Antiochian Orthodox Church, praised the organization for doing God’s work. “This coming Sunday is Judgment Sunday in the Orthodox church and the gospel reading is all about feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty and visiting the sick and imprisoned. This organization embodies all of those goals and objectives,” said Ellias.