In December, 1982, a handful of Greek Americans gathered for coffee in the back room of the Elysion Restaurant, located in Chicago’s Budlong Woods neighborhood, to discuss unmet community needs and what they could do to help. This eclectic but determined group included a doctor, restaurant owner, journalist, teacher, community elder, and college student.

By the end of this meeting, the seeds of what grew into Chicago’s Greek American Nursing Home were born. This unprecedented community undertaking, which some thought would never come to fruition, built widespread community support that spanned the generations and involved all facets of the community ranging from school children to seniors, housewives to millionaires, professionals to business owners, and virtually every community organization, society, and church in the area.

More than 40 years after that first meeting, and two decades after the opening of the Greek American Rehabilitation and Care Centre, John Psiharis, with substantial involvement from Dr. Elaine Thomopoulos, recounts the history of this monumental undertaking through their unique perspectives as co-founders of Greek-American Community Services and the Greek-American Nursing Home Committee, where they served as board members from inception through 2006.

From that first meeting through construction and opening, this book, the second entry in the Hellenism in the Heartland Series, details the struggles and successes in achieving this monumental goal. The early years, rallying the community behind this effort, site selection, obtaining zoning and approvals, raising funds, arranging financing, groundbreaking, construction, and opening festivities are all covered. There were setbacks as well, ranging from Chicago politicians who offered an environmentally contaminated property in place of a promised location, to internal disagreements, opening pains, and crushing debt that needed to be urgently fixed.

Through good times and bad, progress and setbacks, this diligent group persevered and navigated these challenges to accomplish the dream that many thought impossible. Of the nursing home, a newspaper of the day proclaimed: “The creation of this center united the Chicagoland Greek Americans as no other project or cause has in these times.” Today, the Greek American Rehabilitation and Care Centre is consistently rated as one of the best in the state of Illinois and regularly maintains a waiting list.

This book, in intimate detail, tells the story of how this monumental project came to life. John and Elaine’s involvement throughout this time provide a unique vantage point for this narrative. The story is enhanced by 105 images and photos, an extensive who’s who listing with 139 entries, and a detailed chronological history covering the years 1982 through 2006. 

Now available in print through Amazon,  Barnes and Noble, Ingram Spark, and other online retailers, and as an eBook at Amazon Kindle, Apple Books, Baker & Taylor, Barnes and Noble, Fable, Gardners, Hoopla, Kobo, Smashwords, Vivlio, and other online stores. The hardcover includes a comprehensive index for easy reference and has black and white photos. The eBook has color photos but no index.


Barnes and Noble:

Books 2 Read:

BIG Helpers, Inc. is an Amazon affiliate, and may receive a small percentage of your purchase price (at no additional cost to you) on qualifying purchases made through Amazon links on this website.