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Church Forgives $3.5 Million...

Discussion in 'The Ancient Way - Eastern Orthodox' started by Dorothea, Jun 11, 2021.

  1. Dorothea

    Dorothea One of God's handmaidens

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    Copied over an FB post from Fr. Luke because it's such an inspirational and wonderful news event:


    CHURCH FORGIVES $3.5 MILLION MEDICAL DEBT FOR 2,200 FAMILIES

    The Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Webster, MA is culminating its centennial celebration by giving back in a major way. It wiped out $3.5 million of medical debt for 2,200 families.

    The church worked with the nonprofit organization, RIP Medical Debt, providing a donation that was then leveraged by RIP Medical Debt to wipe in total $3,566,809 in medical debt for the families who mostly live in New England.

    “We are in the midst of a two-year celebration for our church’s 100th year anniversary, a celebration that has been extended due to COVID,” said Fr. Luke Veronis, the church’s priest for the past 17 years. “Especially after this year of the pandemic, we wanted to reach out to families with the love of God in a concrete manner. Imagine what it’s like to unexpectedly get a letter that says “Saints Constantine and Helen Church has paid off the medical debt you have been struggling with for the past number of years. No strings attached.”

    Established in 2014, RIP Medical Debt was founded by two former debt collection executives. Their nonprofit organization uses donations to buy large portfolios of medical debt at a fraction of its value, then forgive significant amounts of the debt. In 2020, the organization abolished $1.7 billion in debt for over 830,000 people.

    Locally, the relief couldn’t have come at a better time for many families, who have been struggling to support their loved ones over the past year-plus.

    “I am a single parent raising my son with special needs. Life has hit us with some hard blows mentally, spiritually, and financially,” said one parent who has been kept anonymous for this story. “Opening your letter to find that my medical debt has been paid in full, I will never forget. You have truly blessed our lives with your generosity, compassion, and love.”

    Another recipient recently arrived home and found a letter announcing the church’s actions toward paying off medical debt. The recipient underwent a surgical procedure in 2011 that led to multiple medical complications for the next four years. Despite having health insurance, the recipient struggled with high co-payments. “It was incredible to see that someone paid off one of my medical debts without me asking and without applying for it. You are doing God’s works, for sure.” This registered nurse is looking forward to moving on to the next chapter.

    Similar success stories have unfolded throughout the area, delivering hope for residents who were previously crushed by debt. Another recipient expressed, “At the time that I received your awesome letter I was feeling down and defeated. Then your letter came. All I can do is say WOW! This blessing has touched me in so many different ways. I have a totally different perspective on life. Thank you for the bottom of my heart.”

    For Saints Constantine and Helen Church, the mission of giving also represents how far the Webster church has come in a short time. Back in 2005, the church was in sharp decline, wondering whether it doors would still be open in 15 years. This church has discovered that a way to instill life and vibrancy in its congregation is by reaching out to the larger community in creative ways through service and community involvement.

    The church’s most recent community contribution demonstrates the passion of its members to keep giving back and providing relief.

    “Medical debt often ruins the credit scores of families and makes life difficult for them in various ways,” Veronis said. “This debt creates terrible stress that increases anxiety for countless families. What a pleasant surprise and blessing to have this debt paid off by someone you don’t know, but who wants to express God’s love to them in a concrete manner.”

    Added Veronis, “We hope that the action of our church will inspire not only other faith communities, but also individuals, to do something similar. Imagine what could happen if other churches and individuals took serious the idea of helping families with medical debt or other serious crises in society simply because they want to glorify God’s name!”

    The church community has also found plenty of other ways to give back. Prior to the pandemic, the church ran the Living Bread Luncheon, a free meal offered to the larger Webster community on the first Saturday of every month. Between 70-90 people, mostly elderly, would come and enjoy a meal and the warm hospitality of the church. The church also has sent more than 100 volunteers to Tijuana, Mexico, on nine occasions to build homes for struggling families. The church has become known for much for than its popular Greek Festival. It has become known as a welcoming faith community that reaches out to all people through acts of love.

    “We began our 100th anniversary celebration in November 2019,” Veronis concluded, “by giving our parishioners $30,000 in cash and asking them to ‘pay it forward,’ challenging them to use the money in a way that would bless others in need. We called this the “Good and Faithful Steward Challenge.” We wanted our Church Family to not only share the blessings with others less fortunate, but to experience the joy of giving. God blesses us so that we bless others! We are ending our anniversary in another special way. Relieving this medical debt was our way to do this in a memorable manner.”

    (This article was written by Kevin Flanders, a Staff Writer for the Webster Times)
     
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  2. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member Supporter

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    pretty awesome.
     
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  3. Carl Emerson

    Carl Emerson Well-Known Member

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    This has to be one of the best stories to come out for some time.

    There must be plenty of similar opportunities to spread God's love...

    Christian think tanks - go for it...
     
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  4. gurneyhalleck1

    gurneyhalleck1 Reader

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    Glory to God and WOOOOOW!
     
  5. gurneyhalleck1

    gurneyhalleck1 Reader

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    Carl, you don't happen to have any associates named Lake or Palmer, right? :sorry:

     
  6. Dorothea

    Dorothea One of God's handmaidens

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    Indeed!
     
  7. Dorothea

    Dorothea One of God's handmaidens

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    Yes! It's quite inspirational and lovely. :)
     
  8. Carl Emerson

    Carl Emerson Well-Known Member

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    Yes I had a Pastor in Auckland - Don Lake...
    and was acquainted with a Pastor in Christchurch - Max Palmer.

    Why ? :scratch:
     
  9. gurneyhalleck1

    gurneyhalleck1 Reader

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    Well we can rule you out as a prog rock fan!
    upload_2021-6-11_22-3-24.jpeg
    upload_2021-6-11_22-5-13.jpeg

     
  10. Carl Emerson

    Carl Emerson Well-Known Member

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    Yeh, I was kidding, was into that stuff in days I would rather forget...
     
  11. gurneyhalleck1

    gurneyhalleck1 Reader

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    Woah, woah, hey now. Let's not get too hasty now! You may need to forget some sordid deeds or low points from back in the day, but to turn one's back on Yes, Genesis, Rush, Emerson Lake and Palmer, that's the unforgivable sin! ^_^

     
  12. Platina

    Platina Well-Known Member

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    Glory to God! Dot, can you share the link?
     
  13. GreekOrthodox

    GreekOrthodox Psalti Chrysostom

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    Fr. Luke is pretty amazing. My wife took a class from him at HCHC and loved it.
     
  14. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member Supporter

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    I met him in Lancaster, PA where his dad serves. he is a pretty awesome priest.
     
  15. Not David

    Not David Someday an Orthodox

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    Awesome!
    Do you have a website so I can share the story?
     
  16. Dorothea

    Dorothea One of God's handmaidens

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  17. Dorothea

    Dorothea One of God's handmaidens

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    I'm sorry. I could only find the link I posted above to Platina.
     
  18. SeraphimSarov

    SeraphimSarov Пресвятая Богородица, спаси нас...

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    There needs to be a lot more of this. A lot more. Healthcare in this country is a wreck. I'm on Medicare/Medicaid and getting everything wrong with me taken care of is impossible at best, not to mention that my credit is absolutely torched from when I still had a job and could afford care and made the mistake of getting the expensive treatments my doctors recommended. Apparently caring for yourself when you're poor isn't the right thing to do when you're American.
     
  19. Dorothea

    Dorothea One of God's handmaidens

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    I agree. We desperately need universal healthcare. It's inhumane that people die because they can't afford their medicine or medical procedures cause them to go bankrupt.
     
  20. SeraphimSarov

    SeraphimSarov Пресвятая Богородица, спаси нас...

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    Living with lack of healthcare is lot worse than dying from it, I can assure you. At least in my case. I'm a paranoid schizophrenic without any kind of counseling because the only people around here who take Medicare don't give a damn about the kind of people who have Medicare.
     
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