BAY RIDGE — Teens and adults from all across the Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights communities prepared sandwiches and collected clothes and essentials for their monthly midnight run to deliver meals and various items to the homeless as part of a monthly run sponsored by Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church and the Brooklyn Outreach Center.
This month’s run took place on Friday, Nov. 15. Then, on Monday, Nov. 18, the outreach center held its annual Thanksgiving fundraising event at Mussels & More, 8001 Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge.
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, and to provide holistic care for the less fortunate, including physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
Board members include Maria Vasaka-Monioudis, president of Holy Cross Outreach Center; Rev. Gerasimos Makris of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church in Bay Ridge; and community leaders Zoe Koutsoupakis, Ioannis Pavlakos, Peter Kontopirakis, Angela Athineos and Claudia Zain.
“Over the last 11 years, we have been able to serve over 52,000 meals to the homeless of New York City, and over 8,000 bags of groceries to the elderly and homebound of our community along with home visits to share a warm smile and show of support to our neighbors in need,” said Vasaka-Monioudis.
“We have been thankful to have the support of the Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, and many local schools and youth organizations as well their devoted community leaders,” she added.
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 fundraising event was hosted by Makris and Vasaka-Monioudis. “Today, the Holy Cross Brooklyn Outreach Center would like to honor one of our own dedicated volunteers, Lefteri Theodorakis, who has been volunteering on Homeless Midnight runs for years,” said Vasaka-Monioudis. “Lefteri goes above and beyond to always make sure to talk to the homeless people we meet. That means the world to someone who lives on the street.”
She went on to explain that last month Theodorakis came upon a homeless man hunched over in pain. He started talking to him and realized the man was having a heart attack.
“We quickly called for help and waited for the Fire Department and ambulance to arrive,” said Vasaka-Monioudis. “All this while hundreds of people walked right by this man. Thank God for volunteers like Lefteri, who saved this man from dying on the street.” Theodorakis was presented with a plaque for his heroic efforts.