It is often a difficult process to look back at a person’s life and try to put into a few paragraphs the qualities that would somehow come to illustrate the essence of that life.
The words hope and service immediately come to mind when thinking about Stelios Michaelides. Stelios’ life was very much the typical story of a person that wanted the best for his family, so in 1975, he and his family relocated to the United States from Cyprus. It was the realization that his new situation provided so much to him, that he subsequently felt compelled to share it with others.
His involvement with the Greek Children’s Fund came very haphazardly. More than twenty years ago, Stelios Michaelides and his family received a call from a relative who asked if it was too much trouble if he would help a young girl coming to the U.S. for her cancer treatments. This young woman, Elpida Hatzivasileiou, was taken to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital and it is through this hospital that Stelios would come to mee the founders of the Greek Children’s Fund, Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Matthews. Elpida and her family found themselves dealing with not only a life threatening illness but other challenges as well: being in a foreign country, a language barrier and even an uncertain living situation. Stelios saw these challenges and along with the Greek Children’s Fund, gave his time, his focus and his energy in helping not only this girl but the other young people who would come after her. Stelios would eventually become Treasurer of the Greek Children’s Fund, a position that would eventually be passed on after his death to his wife, Ismini Michaels.
Besides, his involvement with the Greek Children’s Fund, Stelios also took an active role with children suffering from heart disease. He helped Cypriot children and their families as they dealt with their therapies, transported them to local hospitals in New York and New Jersey and provided the help they needed in this rather difficult time. It is ironic that one of the very things that he had battled against would be the thing that would end his life; Stelios passed away in the fall of 1994 from aortic dissection, a catastrophic, degenerative heart ailment.
The belief in hope and service usually starts from a very personal place and if one is fortunate, like Stelios, these concepts may broaden into a commitment that can influence a great many people. In honor of the 25th anniversary of the Greek Children’s Fund, its promise to help children in need remains strong. This promise is now carried out by countless others, in the memory and hope of all those that came before.