His Eminence Metropolitan Iakovos, His Grace Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos and the entire Metropolis congratulates the parishes of Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox Church, Westchester, IL and St. Haralambos Greek Orthodox Church, Niles, IL, who have been designated as winners of the Pathways Open Hearts Award. This award is given to parish communities who have taken steps to include worshippers of all abilities.

The press release follows:

Pathways Foundation Awards Two Greek Orthodox Parishes Cash Grants

For Taking Steps to Include Worshippers of All Abilities

Chicago (Oct. 10, 2010) ––In conjunction with Inclusion Awareness Days this fall, Pathways Foundation is pleased to announce that two Greek Orthodox parishes will receive Pathways Open Hearts Award cash grants for their efforts to welcome and include worshippers of all abilities. 

2010 Open Hearts Award Winning Greek Orthodox Parishes

Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox Church, Westchester, IL

St. Haralambos Greek Orthodox Church, Niles, IL

Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox Church Makes Participation by All a Priority

Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox Church in Westchester, IL welcomes all parishioners into active participation. To make sure that all parishioners are accommodated the parish has recently installed accessible parking places, curb cuts, an automatic door opener and modified a washroom for accessibility. During Divine Liturgy the celebrant brings Holy Communion to those who are unable to approach the Solea. The Parish Council also assigns two members at the Solea to offer assistance to those parishioners who need help as they approach the step to receive Holy Communion. 

In addition to these accommodations the Church also provides an accessible office and an adapted computer for the Lay Assistant who has been employed by the church for thirty years. 

In recognition of the church’s efforts to provide accommodations so that all may participate, Pathways Foundation has honored the parish with a 2010 Open Hearts Award cash grant to install hand rails at the Solea.

St. Haralambos Greek Orthodox Church Draws Attention to Accessible Entrance

Following a seminar for clergy by Pathways Foundation, Father Constantine Botsis, pastor of St. Haralambos Greek Orthodox Church in Niles, IL, instituted Inclusion Awareness Sunday to better educate his parishioners about the need for access to worship. In the summer of 2009, through the generosity of a parishioner, the parish replaced the porch and sidewalk on the front of the church with a beautifully concealed, heated ramp that avoids ice accumulation in the winter and provides access to the church year round.  Although the church now had a ramp that was designed to enhance the beauty of the entrance, there was a need for signage to identify and make the ramp known to all. The Pathways Open Hearts Award grant will be used to design and install attractive signage to publicize this access feature at St. Haralambos Church so that all will know they are welcome. 

Other Congregations Recognized

In addition, Pathways Foundation recognized the outstanding inclusion effort of fourteen other congregations nationwide. Examples of projects supported by 2010 Open Hearts Award cash grants include: providing a sign language interpreter for religious education classes, installing railings to the altar so that Eucharistic Ministers can continue their ministries, purchasing training materials for volunteer mentors who accompany children with autism during religious services, installing automatic door openers and creating pew cutouts to allow parishioners who use wheelchairs to sit with their families during services. For a complete list of 2010 Open Hearts Award winners please visit our website www.InclusionInWorship.org.

About the Open Hearts Awards

Since 1998, Pathways Foundation has distributed more than $117,000 through its Open Hearts Awards program, granting funds to houses of worship nationwide that have already taken action to include worshippers of all abilities and who have specific projects to improve accessibility and inclusion. To apply for the grants, congregation members must submit a completed nomination form, along with a description of the congregation’s inclusion efforts and a request for funding for a specific planned project.  Grant amounts are for up to $1,000. 

Deadline for nominations for the annual Pathways Awareness Open Hearts Awards and Junior Open Hearts Awards (nominated by children, ages 5-18) is August 1. Awards are announced in the fall in conjunction with Inclusion Awareness Day. For more information and nomination forms call 1-800-955-2445, visit www.inclusioninworship.org, or email friends@pathwaysawareness.org.

About Pathways Foundation

Pathways Foundation is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about the benefit of early detection and early therapy for children with early motor delays. For more information about the programs of Pathways Foundation visit www.PathwaysCenter.org, www.PathwaysAwareness.org and www.InclusionInWorship.org.