By Dolores Sauca Lorusso

For 50 years, the Hellenic Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Canton has been committed to providing residents with a staff that cares for them like family in a beautiful place they can call home.

The Hellenic operates as a non-`profit under the direction of the Hellenic Women’s Benevolent Association (HWBA), which began 70 years ago when a local priest and group of Greek Orthodox women recognized the growing plight of elderly individuals left alone and unable to care for themselves.

These women assisted the aging members of the community by providing meals and some general care, but soon realized the need for a more formal situation, which marked the beginning of the idea for the Hellenic Nursing Home.

“It is remarkable what these women were able to do, at that time, going door-to-door asking women in the Greek community to join the association, for a $2 membership fee, and assist in raising funds through bake sales and other social events, while also gaining support from prominent business men in the community,” said Tina Papadopoulos, the immediate past president of the HWBA.

“There is a lot on the president’s shoulders, and it is good to have someone there in the trenches with you, therefore, they have the role of the immediate past president,” said Papadopoulos.

Dr. Sophia Pasedis, incoming president of the HWBA, who will take over the post from Papadopoulos on July 1, said serving on the board is a voluntary effort, and everyone is there because they truly love serving the residents.

“Years ago, nursing homes were owned by nuns because it is a calling,” she said. “It truly is a labor of love.”

“We have tentacles out in the community; strong bonds that have been supporting us for decades. These ties of community outreach are a big part of what makes us unique…we are one of a few nonprofits remaining because of this,” said Dr. Pasedis. “We plan to keep going strong for another 50 years.”

Although the Hellenic has Greek roots, it also encompasses cultural diversity and ethnicity in everything from its entertainment to its food.

Ann Marie Darling, whose 89-year-old mother has been a resident at the Hellenic for the past five years, said “the staff is there for the love of the job. They are always going above and beyond with such compassion. They are considerate of my Mom’s needs and treat her like she is a member of their family. They want to be sure she is comfortable and happy.”

Some of Hellenic’s staff has been “serving” there for more than 30 years, which Darling says speaks highly of the kind of culture fostered at the nursing home.

Hellenic recently transitioned from outside management of the facility to in-house management, bringing on an administrator and finance director who are Hellenic employees.

“We felt this would better serve our mission to focus more on the resident without outside corporate interference…our first priority is taking care of residents and filling the last few years of their life with happy memories,” said Dr. Pasedis. Rand Corporation, the US GAO, the Center for Medicare Advocacy, the Institute for Medicine and others report that not-for-profit skilled nursing facilities have statistically significant higher