I thank my dear friend and colleague Andy Manatos for his thoughtfulness in writing the attached article.
It will be 15 years in January that hellenicare has been providing health care and humanitarian services. We have served more than 2.8 million people since 1997 and delivered more than $158 million of aid to our fellow Hellenes and their neighbors in the former Soviet Republics and the Republic of Albania.
In establishing hellenicare, I have only responded to our Lord’s calling to serve “the least of our brethren.”
We are thankful for the support we have received.
Andrew A. Athens
President and Founder
Article published on the Orthodox Observer
Reaching the “Least Among Us”
Few people in Washington these days are described as “saints.” Yet, many Democrats like Vice President Joe Biden and many Republicans like House Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Ileana Ros ¬ Lehtinen view one of our fellow Orthodox Christians, Andrew A. Athens, that way.
They agree with former House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, Congressman Ben Gilman, who nicknamed him “Saint Andrew.”
Andy Athens, former lay head of the Archdiocesan Council, president of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad, CEO of Metron Steel and founder of “hellenicare,” appears to have taken to heart the biblical words in Matthew 25:41-45, “Whatever you did not do for one of the least among you, you did not do for me.”
On a trip to Tsalka, Georgia in 1997, Andy Athens witnessed “the least among us” – people living in deplorable conditions with little or no medical care available to them. There were little children with life threatening diseases whose fathers were among the 70 percent unemployed. He felt he had to do something to help them, and shortly after the trip, he founded the organization that today is hellenicare.
Three million of the least among us, Orthodox Christians living in Georgia, Armenia and the Ukraine, have received or secured for their sick children, top medical care because of the hellenicare clinics Andy Athens brought to them. The lead doctor from America for the clinics is his trusted brother in medical philanthropy, Dr. Charlie Kanakis.
According to professional estimates, hellenicare has saved over 5,000 lives.
Hellenicare has provided $135 million worth of medical care and other supplies to the communities it services, as well as championed the advancement of medical care in these countries.
For example, Andy Athens brought open – heart surgery to the country of Georgia. Circumstances were so primitive that his doctors had to carry the operating table closer to the window so that the surgeons could better see the patient on whom they were operating.
The depth of Andy Athens’ Christian concern for his fellow – Orthodox is apparent. He is often overcome with tears when describing their plight. The transformation of a shy, disfigured Georgian boy into a happy and healthy child is but one of hundreds of such touching stories Andy tells.
As he turns 90 years old this November, Andy Athens is preparing to share with others the immense pleasure a Christian experiences when dramatically improving the life of a needy, worthy, struggling person. He is arranging the administration of his clinics so that we too can reach our helping hand directly to these most worthy “least among us.”
Many believe that the love of God at the base of Orthodox Christianity shows through Andy Athens’ crusade for these least among us. And, it speaks well for the integrity of America that our nation’s top officials, to a person, stop what they are doing to recognize and appreciate what has been done by this man Chairman Gilman nicknamed “Saint Andrew.”
Andrew Manatos is a member of the Archdiocesan Council and its communications committee, and president of Manatos and Manatos in Washington.
Sources: Hellenicare, Orthodox Observer