Charity’s lesson, with hope, people can move forward

Christmas may be the season of giving, but it’s a season that never ends for Joyce Deliyiannis and HELPIS, the charity she founded many years ago to promote kindness.
HELPIS gives much to many. It regularly provides food, clothing, backpacks, diapers, books, art supplies, toiletries, coats, strollers, car seats, shoes, blankets, socks and other necessities to Boston Health Care for the Homeless, Project Hope, Lowell Transitional Living Center, Plummer Youth Promise, Stetson School, Littleton Academy, Disabled and Limbless Veterans, Bridge Over Troubled Waters, Veterans Hospitals, Woburn High School’s Tanner Closet for homeless kids, and more.
Unlike most charities, HELPIS doesn’t limit the scope of what it gives because that could mean denying a request. No other organization works the way HELPIS does, and that’s exactly how Joyce likes it.
“We do what needs to get done,” Joyce said. “We want to fill in the gaps and provide the things people and organizations cannot get from other sources. It’s especially important now because many groups have been forced to spend money on masks and other things related to COVID, so there are more gaps today than ever before.”
One request came in for a mom who needed a bed for her son. The need was urgent because the mom was separated from her son when she became homeless. When an apartment became available, DCF said she could have her son back, but only if she had a bed for him. The mom didn’t have money for a bed, so the woman’s social worker called Joyce. It was too late to get a bed at the store, so Joyce took her daughter’s bed apart and delivered it herself.
Trained as a hair stylist, Joyce also gives free haircuts at Boston Health Care for the Homeless. She’s been doing it for over ten years and says “haircuts give people self-esteem; many are trying to get work, so they want to look their best. A nice haircut makes them feel good.”
BHCH recently gave Joyce an award for her work and noted how important it is because people who come in for a haircut then learn about other services, like free health care.
I learned about HELPIS years ago during one of my regular visits to Sophia’s Greek Pantry in Belmont to pick up her amazing Greek yogurt. Sophia sits on the HELPIS Board and donates copious amounts of food and needed items all year long. She explained to me that the word HELPIS comes from the Greek word elpis, which means hope. She told me, “When people feel hopeful, they can move forward. Hope is very important for everyone, especially these days.”
This season has more people than usual struggling to feel hopeful, and the calls to HELPIS are relentless. Last week alone they received ten requests for coats, boots, hats, socks, toiletries, and art supplies for kids and families.
But as the need for help rises, so do the ranks at HELPIS.
“We’ve never had so many wonderful volunteers,” Joyce said. “Our team is amazing. They give so much of their time and money, without recognition and without asking for anything in return. Their kindness is incredible.”
Giving makes people feel good, which is the magic of HELPIS. Joyce says “We make giving very easy because we have no bureaucracy or even paid employees. We’re just a small charity that uses the power of kindness to help people in need. It’s that simple.”
I’d call it profound.
To learn more, go to www.HELPIS.org

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