For better or for church…local family donates wedding reception for a good cause

BAY RIDGE — The saying, “When one door closes, another opens” couldn’t be truer for a remarkable act of kindness that occurred this week. When a Bay Ridge bride’s wedding plans fell through at the last minute, she and her family decided to do something positive with the wedding reception that was already booked and paid for, to be held on Saturday, Dec. 7 at Russo’s on the Bay

The family contacted Maria Vasaka-Monioudis, president of the Holy Cross Brooklyn Outreach Center, and offered the entire evening for a Christmas party to help raise funds for a number of local charities.

“She is related to one of our board members and the fiancé just canceled everything on her on Monday,” Vasaka-Monioudis told this paper.

“She knows the Holy Cross Outreach Center does so much to help those in need, and also donated all the wedding favors which are blankets and gift bags, to the homeless.”

Vasaka-Monioudis explained the evening will include a cocktail hour, full Viennese hour and an open bar — all free with a donation.

“We have selected Holy Cross Brooklyn Outreach Center, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church Fund, St. Mary’s Antiochian Nativity Set Fund and St. Nicholas Antiochian Cathedral Elevator Fund to benefit from the donations,” said Vasaka-Monioudis.

She said that she was immensely grateful for the family’s bravery and compassion. “This way, all is not lost and folks can help out our local charities and churches. In life, things don’t always go as we plan. Sometimes things happen and we are devastated and distraught. How we handle these difficult situations is a true test of human character,” said Vasaka-Monioudis. “The ability to rise above something painful and turn it into something beautiful is truly magnificent,” she added. 

According to Vasaka-Monioudis, over the past 11 years, the Outreach Center has been able to serve over 52,000 meals to the homeless of New York City, and delivered over 8,000 bags of groceries to elderly and homebound members of the community.

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. 

Regarding the upcoming fundraiser, HCBOC board member Claudia Zain asked for prayers for the bride and her family, and said the hope was to make something good out of a terrible situation.

“The board will be inviting all their family and friends. It is a full wedding reception. I am inviting all the people I would invite if I had a big house and were having a Christmas party,” Zain told this paper. “Please come and let’s celebrate the holidays together for a good cause.”

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