The Greek Orthodox Community of Saint Demetrios in Merrick, New York has been blessed with a plethora of organizations that provide the congregation with spiritual, philanthropic, social and pastoral assistance. All these organizations are developed under the auspicies of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, they are monitored by the Uniform Rules and Regulations of the Archdiocese, the Parish Bi-Laws and the Canons of the Church. The Rev. Fr. Nikiforos Fakinos, Pastor of the Community, works in unison with the chairpersons and the committees that have the task of organizing events, activities and programs for each organization. The Parish Council of the Community, comprised by the Priest, the President of the Council, the Executive Committee and the elected members who represent the congregation of the Church, collaborate with all the committees and the chairpersons of the Parish organizations to ensure their growth and development.
The Parish Organizations are the following (brief description):
Church School (Cynthia Golding, Director):
The Church School has the task to provide religious education to all the young members of the Parish, ages 4 to 18. The students are divided in classes according to age. Each class has a teacher and in some cases an assistant teacher. The Church School is organized under the auspices of the School Board; the members of the Board (parents of the students and volunteers) work together with the Pastor and the Director to ensure the efficient enrichment of the School. The Church School follows the curriculum of the Religious Education Department of the Archdiocese. All teachers attend monthly meetings with the Priest and the Director as well as Bible Studies, seminars and religious services for their personal edification. Church School events include participating in the Sunday Service, attending the dialectical sermon with the Pastor, receiving the sacraments of the Church (when properly prepared), assisting the needy (including the OCMC, Saint Basil's Academy, Christian missions and other charities), participating in lectures, seminars and retreats, organizing the Christmas Pageant, the Youth Choir and volunteering for the Church. Significant events for the Church School include the Beginning of the Year Aghiasmos (Blessing), Registration and Breakfast, the Visit to Saint Basil's Academy, the Religious Education Conference, the Christmas Pageant, the Godparents' Sunday Breakfast, the Lenten Retreat, the Saturday of Lazarus Confessions, Breakfast and Palm Weaving, the Prosforon and Kolyva Workshops and the Graduation - Moving Up Ceremony.
Greek School (Tania Laloudakis, Principal, Matrona Koutsouras, President):
The purpose of the Greek School is to promote the Greek letters, language and civilization. The students are from Pre-K to Regents; they learn grammar, history, religion and dancing. The Greek School teachers attend seminars organized by the Greek Education Department of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. They are Greek language diploma teachers with proficiency in teaching the language and culture of the Greek people. The Board and the PTA collaborate to organize all events and activities of the School. They have monthly meetings and they volunteer for charities, for Church fundraising and for contributions to the cause of promoting the Greek letters. Significant yearly events include the Aghiasmos (Blessing) of each class in the beginning of the School year, the October 28th (OXI Day) event, the Christmas Party, the Three Hierarchs Day, the March 25th (Greek Independence Day) event, the Festival booth, the honoring of students who excel academically and the Graduation - Moving Up Ceremony. The Rev. Fr. Nikiforos Fakinos frequently visits the classrooms to speak with the students, especially during the anniversary of significant events in the history of the Greek Nation and the faith. The dance groups perform in the Parish Annual Festival and other events of the Community. History is also a significant part of the School curriculum and students receive awards and Scholarships for academic excellence in Greek language and history.
Philoptochos (Patty Lafkas, President):
The President, the Executive Council, the elected members of the Board and the members of the Philoptochos sisterhood of Saint Barbara work in conjunction with the Pastor and the Council to assist those in need. They contribute to many worthy causes including the Adopt-A-Family Foundation, Clothing Drives, the cause for Breast Cancer Awareness, Cancer research and donating for many Archdiocesan institutions (such as Saint Michael's Home for the Elderly, Saint Basil's Academy, the Patriarchate and Holy Cross School of Theology). They also help families facing significant financial difficulties and children, who need assistance, through the Greek Children's Fund, Schneider's Children's Hospital and other organizations. They also have incorporated young volunteers (the Agape group) to assist with those ministries. Significant events include the Breast Awareness month and collections in October, the October dinner at the Church Hall, the Christmas Social, the Bake Sales, running a large booth at the Festival and the Annual Dinner Dance and Fashion Night. The sisterhood works together with Father and the Parish Council to promote philanthropy in the Parish and assist those among us who suffer emotionally, financially or spiritually.
Pins for Pauly (Andreas Pavlou, President):
This is a non-for-profit organization that assists children stricken with leukemia. The members of Pins for Pauly organize events in memory of Paul Pavlou, an altar boy of the Church, who passed away fighting the dreadful disease. Children and adults of all ages are sponsored in order to raise donations and help families, who are unable to pay their medical expenses; often times, parents, who have a child stricken with leukemia, have to leave their job and take loans to offer the best possible medical care for their suffering child. Many children who are now free from Leukemia have come back healthy and strong to assist the organization in its worthy cause to raise moneys for research and to help other children who suffer from the disease. Fr. Nikiforos Fakinos provides spiritual and psychological support and together with the members of the Board and the Parish Council they work to organize events and help those in need.
Little Angels (Panagiota Roumbos, Stefanie Margaronis, Advisors):
Little Angels invites all mothers and their children under the age of 5 to participate in activities that assist, educate and entertain the youngest members of the Parish. Every Thursday (10 am to 12 noon) they meet and they transform the Church Hall into a play area with games, arts and crafts, songs, story time and prayer. They have snack and they also go to fun visits (zoos, circuses, ice-skating performances, theater, parks, amusement parks and summer time pool activities). The Little Angels also contribute to the Community and they are a mommy-and-me program that assists children with developing socialization skills, early School education, religious understanding of their faith and incorporating many fun events.
HOPE-JOY (Michelle Hatzizaharias, Advisor):
Children (ages 5-13) are welcome to participate in the spiritual, social, athletic and philanthropic events of this organization. Highlights of their activities include the Ice-cream ice breaker, movie nights, talent shows, costume parties, ice skating, dances, games, lectures, talks with the Pastor, volleyball and Basketball as well as participating in the Archdiocesan Olympics and other sports. They also raise money for the Church and for worthy causes and they run a large booth during the Annual Parish Festival.
GOYA (Eleni Mantikas, Debie Mountanos. Eleni Katechis, Dimitra Platanias, Advisors):
Young Parishioners (ages 13-18) are invited to participate in the spiritual, social, athletic and philanthropic events of this organization. They meet the first Thursday of every month and they have their President, Executive Board and members comprised exclusively by the youth. Parents (the Advisor, the coaches, the members of the youth committee) monitor the growth of the organization together with the Parish Priest and they provide the necessary resources for all their events. Highlights of the group include visits to Ronald McDonald House, hospitals, elderly homes and assisting charities, as well as the following social and athletic events: Fridays at Friday's, dances, fundraising events, Ski trips, helping at the Festival, talents shows, Olympics, Volleyball and Basketball, retreats, Lenten dinner, attending the Pre-sanctified evening services and a pioneering program of tutoring younger students (in School subjects, Greek or music) to increase participation in the organization events and to help worthy causes.
YAL (Tanya Diamantis):
Young adults comprise YAL, whose purposes include reaching out to the members of the Parish after they graduate Church School and providing spiritual, social, philanthropic and athletic events for their involvement in the Parish. The members are over 18 and they include College students and Young adults who participate in the weekly Bible Study (Friday nights at 8 p.m.), Volleyball, Soccer and Basketball teams, outings, retreats and charities (such as clothing drives, soup kitchens and Pins for Pauly). They also help at the Annual Parish Festival and members of the group are receiving continuous religious education to become the future (and present) Greek School and Church School teachers, coaches, advisors and volunteers of the Church.
GOLDEN YEARS (Irene Matthews):
Senior Citizens participate in this group to socialize and to help the Church. They have luncheons every first Tuesday of the month as well as excursions to destinations of interest, pilgrimages and fundraising events to help the Church.