This article is from PRAXIS volume 16, issue 3: "Sacred Childhood" (Spring 2017).


Introduction by Sarah Parro:

In Luke 10, Jesus tells the familiar parable of the Good Samaritan: a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho is attacked, robbed and wounded by thieves, and ultimately left for dead. A priest and a Levite come along, but instead of helping the man, they ignore him and pass by on the other side of the road. Finally, a Samaritan approaches. “And when he saw him,” Jesus says, “he had compassion” (Luke 10:33).

The Samaritan cares for the man’s physical wounds, but he doesn’t stop there. He takes the man to an inn where he can rest, and he tells the innkeeper he will pay for any further care necessary for the man’s recovery. Perhaps this included meals, new clothing or additional medical attention.

When we think of how to help those suffering from illness and disease, contributing to their physical needs is a good place to start—but it doesn’t have to end there. The Children’s Medical Fund, the principle fundraiser and charity of the National Philoptochos Society, is devoted to providing aid to critically ill children and their families. It holds a biennial luncheon to raise funds for a broad range of programs. Each metropolis takes a turn hosting the luncheon, and major grants are given out to support programs within the geographic region of the hosting metropolis. In this issue of PRAXIS, as we explore various historical, scriptural and theological considerations of children through the lens of our Orthodox Faith, we have chosen to spotlight the Children’s Medical Fund as an important application of that faith.

In addition to research programs and hospital equipment, the Fund contributes to resources and expenses not typically covered by insurance. PRAXIS spoke to Barbara Pasalis, secretary of the National Philoptochos board, about the Fund and its mission to support diverse and comprehensive care for children and their families.

“[We’ve been] trying to consider the welfare of the entire family, which can suffer tremendously when you have a chronically ill child for years,” Barbara explained. In 2015, the Fund donated to the family sponsorship program at Camp Sunshine, a year-round program held along the shores of Maine’s Sebago Lake that offers recreation and respite to children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. In 2007, the Fund supported Ride With Emilio, a program of the Emilio Nares Foundation in Southern California that provides free transportation for underprivileged children and their parents to get to and from hospitals for cancer-related appointments. These are just two examples. “It’s a wide range of things always having to do with children, children’s medical causes and their families, and trying to support them in a holistic manner,” Barbara said. “We try to assist in all areas. And we just see it as our mission as mothers of the Church to help the children.”

Read on to learn more about the history of the Children’s Medical Fund and the details of this year’s luncheon.


2017 Children's Medical Fund Luncheon

The National Philoptochos Society’s sixteenth biennial Children’s Medical Fund Luncheon, held under the auspices of His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Geron of America, and the blessing of Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey, is being hosted by the Metropolis of New Jersey Philoptochos and will take place on November 11, 2017, at The Venetian in Garfield, New Jersey.

Since its inception in 1989, this event has raised and disbursed approximately $3.3 million for children’s hospitals and research programs, as well as special programs that serve the needs of ill and fragile children and their families throughout the United States and in other parts of the world.

Metropolis of New Jersey Philoptochos President and General Luncheon Chair Anastasia Michals and Co-Chairs Eleni Constantinides, Alexis Limberakis and Evellyn Tsiadis have assembled a dedicated and talented group of Philoptochos members to plan and execute this important event. With the goal of raising hundreds of thousands of dollars, Mrs. Michals invites all to be a part of this wonderful day. “It is our hope to reach a significant level of giving from all over the country,” Mrs. Michals said, “which will offer the opportunity to grant substantial awards to children’s hospitals, research and special programs to benefit children throughout the Metropolis of New Jersey and the country.”

At this year’s event, grants will be awarded to hospitals and programs located within the geographic boundaries of the Metropolis of New Jersey, which includes New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and areas in the state of Pennsylvania surrounding the cities of Broomall, Elkins Park, Jeffersonville, Media, Philadelphia and Upper Darby. The remaining funds will be disbursed to programs, individuals and their families across the country in the following two years leading up to the next Children’s Medical Fund Luncheon.

In addition, the Fund is pleased to announce that awardwinning journalist Laura Evans will be the emcee for the event. Ms. Evans spent eighteen years at Washington’s Fox News affiliate, most recently as the anchor of the 5:00 PM newscast. With her family, she is a member of St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Bethesda, Maryland. She and her husband, Greek American lobbyist Mike Manatos, served as chairs for the 2017 Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic gala and have offered their time and talents to numerous philanthropic activities and events.

“We are honored and pleased to welcome a devout Greek Orthodox Christian, philanthropist and true professional to the Children’s Medical Fund family,” Mrs. Michals said of Ms. Evans. “She has shown her compassion for all who need support and help, especially children. We know that Laura’s contribution to our luncheon will make this event memorable and will help to raise much-needed funds for children.”

The Metropolis of New Jersey Philoptochos looks forward to welcoming visitors from across the country to the sixteenth Children’s Medical Fund Luncheon. Please mark your calendars for November 11 and plan to join Philoptochos stewards as we gather to rejoice and embrace the children.

Tickets, Donations and More Information

Visit the National Philoptochos website for information about this year's luncheon and to purchase tickets or make a donation. Tickets must be purchased by October 16, 2017. 

The success of the Children's Medical Fund depends on support from members, chapters and friends of Philoptochos throughout the United States. Sponsorships and donations to the Fund can be mailed to the National Philoptochos office or submitted online by clicking here


Past Funding Recipients

As we look back on previous Children’s Medical Fund Luncheons, we are reminded of the many worthy organizations that have benefitted from the deep-rooted love and philanthropy present in Philoptochos chapters throughout America. The following are examples of the range of projects and programs that have received funding:

  • Children’s Hospital (Denver, Colorado) – Purchase of a transport incubator and transport monitor by the neonatal intensive care unit

  • Matthew’s Hearts of Hope (Sherman, Connecticut)  Research advancing the diagnosis and treatment of congenital heart defects

  • Children’s National Medical Center (Washington, DC)  Specialized respiratory equipment for the Infant Pulmonary Function Laboratory

  • John T. MacDonald Foundation, Inc. (Coral Gables, Florida)  Project Breathe asthma management program

  • University of Illinois Medical Center/Rush University Medical Center (Chicago, Illinois)  Pediatric Hematology/Oncology program

  • New England Disabled Sports (NEDS) (Lincoln, New Hampshire)  Adaptive sports programs for children living with disabilities

  • Children’s Tumor Foundation (New York, New York)  Neurofibromatosis Preclinical Consortium Phase II testing

  • Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital (Cleveland, Ohio)  Insulin pumps for the Diabetes Technology Clinic

  • Genre’s Kids with Cancer Fund (Irwin, Pennsylvania)  Nintendo handheld gaming systems for children to use during the long hours of chemotherapy and blood transfusions

  • Medical University of South Carolina Children’s Hospital (Charleston, South Carolina)  Pediatric neuroblastoma research

  • Children’s Hospital (Austin, Texas)  Two pediatric transport ventilators

Barbara Pasalis is co-chair of public relations and secretary of the National Philoptochos Board. 

Like what you’re reading? Visit the Religious Education Department to view back issues of PRAXIS and learn how to subscribe. You may also contact the Department of Religious Education by phone at (646) 519–6300 or by email at [email protected].