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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 03 March 2018
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 3 MARCH 2018 25 OPINION Of course the Greek Community did not put me in a time loop and tell me their story. And we need to consider the point of view of the Greek Community. They are the landowners after all, owners of church and church hall. The Greek Community need an income. Income is what helps the Greek Community in their purpose of supporting the greater good of Greeks. The Greek Community organises events to bring Greeks together and these do not come cheap. It is true that they have done well out of this church in the past. The property to the right of the church which could have housed the priest was sold off in 2012 for $750,000. The courtyard behind the church was subdivided and sold off for $510,000 in 2013. That's a pretty penny that has been made in selling off the church’s land. But that was then and this is now. And income is again the key word. So I tried to Google the going rate for the use of dilapidated church halls for the two hours between 10.00 am and midday on a Tuesday morning. Alas Trivago did not have this category but I did find community centres in Frankston that charged $19 an hour. Maybe we could Uber them there and back again. Then I thought, these elderly Greeks really need to get with the program, so I checked Airbnb rates in the area. The lovely Casa Verde bungalow in Thornbury looked interesting at $98 for a 24-hour period. Or if they are happy to meet in a one-bedroom apartment I found them a deal for $59. With this comes the potential that one of their get togethers gets out of control and makes the news. Sure it doesn't have a creaky floor and a side door that won't close but beggars can't be choosers. And this group of elderly Greeks clearly deserve to be treated as beggars. Church of St George, Thornbury for bingo. One week this person. One week that person. Some weeks ago I took wine in the name of an uncle who passed away, Θεός συγχώρεσε των. And those who come eat and drink and tell stories. And what is had is merriment, and mirth, and community. And many give thanks to Father Ioannis Dangaris of this church who began this get together and welcomed all with open arms. And he created a community. And in this paradox of multiple loops that I entered, the stories I heard had a common body. Something like a hydra mixed with a Venn diagram. Each person telling their story in a separate time loop but all stories coming together. And what I came to understand through their pain was this: The Greek Community turned up to the church hall. This is quite clear. They announced themselves. They introduced themselves. And they spoke loudly to the elderly citizens. That the elderly members were told that it's not on that they meet in the church hall like this is confirmed. That they were told they need to start paying rent for their use of the hall between 10.00 am and midday on Tuesdays is confirmed. That the volunteer chef, the person who for no pay opens the church and cooks for 100 people resigned in disgust is confirmed. And that many of these elderly people got up and walked out in anger that their weekly get together was being taken away is also confirmed. Not much more can be said about the incident except that it is vile and speaks about distorted views in the Community. A friend once told me that Greeks are very good at targeting things that work well and stuffing them up. And by stuffing, he meant another word but since having children all his words beginning with ‘F’ are banished. Farcical is a good word though. It's kind of like φάρτσα, but sort of means the opposite. The pursuit of income and user pays is the way of the modern world. Maybe it is right that the Greek Community operates in the same way. After all they are a public company. But they are also registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission. I guess this means that as a company they can raise money, but as a not-for-profit they are to use this money for their purpose, which I assume is the support and development of the Greek community. And so it is here. Rent the hall to the elderly group to raise money to support initiatives that develop community. Farcical seems to have entered the building (quick! charge it rent!). Luckily, there are many wonderful examples that could serve didactically to show the Greek Community how clubs can develop their community. The Kos Club in Northcote runs a wonderful series of community lunches on a Sunday. I was invited to one and the atmosphere was heartwarming. The doors were opened. Volunteers prepared sweets. Everyone who attended brought a dish if they could. And all who were there sat together and ate and enjoyed each other's company. Free. No profit for the club financially. But it was nice. Once a month this happens because the Kos Club wants it to happen. Community. The Olympian Society in Thornbury receives no income from rent or other investments. It pays the bills with the annual dance, and Christmas and New Year's Eve parties. Volunteers cook and clean and serve to raise money for the club. And with money left over they organise other events. In February this year they had the money to organise a bus to transport members and friends to St Panteleimon in Dandenong for a μνημόσυνο, to remember all those we have lost, a list that grows as we do and reminds us what is truly important. Free. Once a year this happens because the Olympian Society wants it to happen. The bus is hired and its doors are opened for all. Community. At St Panteleimon church Reverend Anthony Krinas did not let the attendees leave the church after this particular service. He provided a traditional offering for everyone in the church hall. Bread, cheese, pites, coffee, wine. Free. Because he is from the Olympia region himself and he wanted to do this for them. And they sat together and they ate and they talked. Community. And at St George's Church the new priest is Father Haralabos. And on his name day this year he did not let any of the parishioners leave. All were asked to go into the church hall where he had prepared a feast for everyone. Free. And everyone ate and drank and talked. Community. These are some examples of community. There are hundreds more out there, developing community through their efforts. No fanfare. No pictures in newsletters. But you have seen them volunteering at dances and events. In the name of supporting fellow Greeks. Community. It is a shame when the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria has become a hard-nosed organisation that destroys community in the pursuit of income. The Greek Community was created in 1897, built by the first Greeks to promote their culture and their heritage. Its purpose is not stated anywhere on its website or weekly emails, but one would imagine the reason for its existence is the support of Greeks. Income is necessary. The building in the city needs to be paid off. But it is a shame to continuously go to those who have already given their labour and their lives to take our community so far and to ask them for more. It is a shame to go to those who are of a frail age, to those who need support and companionship, and yell at them and tell them this is business. So it has come to this Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria: I'll pay the bill for these elderly Greeks to meet weekly. I'll pay so that they can continue as they have learned. I'll pay so that they can continue to have a sense of community. But send me a quote please. On there please make clear what the weekly cost is for the use of your hall every Tuesday between 10.00 am and midday. Make the cost very clear so I can compare the cost of your hall with the quotes of others. And in the meantime rent the hall to the other groups waiting to use it at that time. I wish you good business. Don't let us stand in the way of your profit. There is a Catholic Church that has a hall down the road. Darebin Council has community facilities all around. And there are other clubs. I'll get a quote from all of them and let these elderly Greeks decide on the best place for them to meet. The place with the lowest cost because that is what it comes down to isn't it. Cost. And maybe they will then be quiet and go away and free your hall up. And I'll let you manage your hall and get back to your work being the Greek Community. Community σου λέει ο άλλος.
24 February 2018
10 March 2018