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The Ladies Philoptochos Society


The Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society, Inc. is the official philanthropic organization of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. Every parish of the Archdiocese is required to establish a chapter which must be chartered by the National Office. The Saint Nicholas chapter has been a beacon of hope, love and support to our church and community for over 50 years.


History and Accomplishments

By Tina Harris

To aid the poor, the destitute, the hungry, the aged, the sick, the unemployed, the orphaned, the imprisoned, the widowed, the handicapped, the victims of disasters, to undertake the burial of impoverished persons and to offer assistance to anyone who may need the help of the Church through fund raising efforts.

This component is at the core of Philoptochos’ existence. As we look around us, especially during this time of economic upheaval, where can families and individuals receive assistance when they can no longer manage to provide for their own daily living expenses, when jobs have been eliminated, homes are in jeopardy of being taken away from them, health insurance does not cover medical services or the coverage is canceled, and parents are no longer able to feed their children? Who can people turn to for consolation and support? The Philoptochos! Since its existence our chapter has been available to provide for the needs of individuals and families whose lives have been affected by devastating turns of events and continues to assist them until they are back on their feet again. The Philoptochos has also assisted families and individuals when financial aid is required in the cost of burying people who have limited or no financial resources.

One of the ways our chapter has served the community is by establishing the Aporon Committee which facilitates the special need situations. It is a group of dedicated ladies who are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to assist persons or families during their time of financial crises. This group works closely with our parish priest who brings cases to the attention of the committee.

Upon occasion, our chapter becomes aware of situations when individuals and families seeking medical assistance are hosted by members of our community. In order to minimize the financial burden of the families involved, our chapter and the Rhodian Society--Diagoras along with other community organizations, have played major roles in organizing Agape luncheons. The success of these luncheons reflects the love and fellowship among the participating organizations.

In the past our chapter has also sponsored a child from Saint Basil’s Academy as well as two years of college education which have made a substantial difference in his life.

Our chapter has been preparing meals for the Our Daily Bread food kitchen. The caring ladies devoted to cooking these meals meet once a month all year around. In addition, our chapter supplies a monthly delivery of fresh chickens to an area crisis center. The chapter has also prepared and served food to the Ronald MacDonald House where seriously ill children and their families are housed in their home away from home.

Annually, Philoptochos spearheads the community non-perishable food drive for those less fortunate. It has also distributed surplus food from community events to local crisis centers.

Recently our chapter embarked on a mission which has become a milestone for not only the Orthodox community in Baltimore but also the entire Metropolis of New Jersey--the Philoxenia House. The House was established when the need was recognized that sufficient affordable and comfortable housing was not available to those seeking medical consultation and treatment at Baltimore‘s renowned medical institutions. The House is located directly across the street from our Saint Nicholas Church which provides solace and fellowship to those seeking medical treatment and spiritual consolation. The Philoxenia House doors are open to all people, young and old, from around the world and since February 2, 2002 has housed over 61 families from every continent. The by laws of the House determine that only guests under medical care can be housed along with one caretaker and minor siblings accompanying the guest. The duration of the stay is determined by the medical provider.

Unfortunately, upon occasion the Philoxenia Committee is compelled to deny requests from families because of limited space. However, the Committee is in the process of developing plans to expand the existing facility and to increase the capacity of families to be served.

The Nursing Home and Hospital Committee makes monthly visits to members of our community who have been admitted to various medical institutions. However, federal law requires that authorization be obtained from immediate family members prior to visitation. During the Easter and Christmas holidays, the Committee also visits shut ins and provides a small gift.

The Philoptochos is exceptionally privileged to be able to heed Christ’s words to help the sick and feed the poor.

To promote the charitable, benevolent, and philanthropic purposes of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, through instructional programs, presentations, lectures, seminars and other educational resources.

The second component is primarily the mission of the National and Metropolis Boards; however, these programs are funded by all chartered chapters. Each year the National and Metropolis Boards inform the chapters of the annual commitments which must be earmarked as restricted funds within our Treasury. In some cases, the chapters are required to raise funds with a tray collection during the church services or by sponsoring special projects to financially support the obligations.

To preserve and perpetuate Orthodox Christian concepts and the Orthodox Christian Family, and through them, to promote the Greek Orthodox Faith and traditions, in accordance with its doctrines, canons, discipline, divine worship, usages and customs.

The third component is an area where our chapter works closely with our parish priest and the community. It sponsors annually the following events: community and chapter Vasilopita celebrations at the beginning of each year, the community Apokreatiko Glendi, the Kathara Defthera Lenten potluck dinner which is held after church services on the first day of Great Lent, in May the mothers of the community are honored, the decoration of the Epitaphio on Good Friday morning, the Saints Kosmas and Damian (Philoptochos chapter’s patron saints) dinner every November with an educational guest speaker, an annual fashion show in the Spring where members young and old model the latest fashions with the proceeds benefiting the scholarship fund, and bingo nights where families play for non-monetary prizes.

To promote participation in the activities of the Greek Orthodox community, with the cooperation of the Parish Priest and the Parish Council.

The fourth component is one which our Philoptochos coordinates activities with the parish priest and Parish Council. Our chapter has played a key role in the community by preparing and hosting the annual St. Nicholas Vesper service reception on the evening of December 5th, by providing financial support to the annual Vacation Bible School, and by awarding scholarships to well-deserved college students in our community. In addition, our chapter provides financial assistance to children wishing to attend the annual weeklong CYC camp held every summer and sponsored by the four local church communities.

Since the national By Laws require that chapters can only use its funds to further the mission of the Society, the chapter has realized special needs of the church and has undertaken various fundraising activities throughout the years. Among these projects are the purchase of tables and chairs for the large Social Hall, monetary donation to the Plateia project, refurbishing of the church pews, installation of the Platytera icon of the Virgin and our Lord, and the air conditioning system in the church.

The charitable work of the Society shall be performed with discretion, courtesy and kindness.

Philoptochos is available to assist anyone requiring financial assistance. However, many are discouraged when they presume that their situation will be revealed. In order to allay any fears that cases will be made public, the Aporon Committee has created a system whereby case numbers are assigned to individual situations, thus protecting the identity of those seeking aid. Discretion is always used and personal names are never reported or revealed.


Oath of Office

I do solemnly affirm that I will uphold the dogma, teaching, traditions, holy canons, worship, and moral principles of the Greek Orthodox Church, as well as the Constitutional Charter, discipline and regulations of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, and that I will fulfill faithfully and sincerely the duties and obligations required of the Board of Directors of the Philoptochos Society. So help me God.

This is the oath of office taken by the board members of each parish chapter. These few words encapsulate the obligation each member takes upon themselves not only when serving the Board but upon joining Philoptochos. We commit ourselves not only to follow the rules and regulations of Philoptochos, but most importantly to live our life as required by our Church. It is a sacred privilege to serve our Church and our God as a member of Philoptochos, and the words of this oath are to be taken very seriously by all who join it and serve on its board.

This by no means recounts the complete history of the Saint Nicholas Philoptochos. Through the years many women have sacrificed their time and offered their talents to this philanthropic organization. I wish to acknowledge and thank those who have served before us for without their dedication, the chapter would not be the organization we know today. For those members no longer with us, may their memory be eternal.

May the divine strength and wisdom of God and Lord Jesus Christ guide our Philoptochos to fulfill its responsibilities with love and harmony. Today the Saint Nicholas Church is blessed to have such a vibrant and compassionate Philoptochos.