Toms River, NJ – Located in Mani, near the southern tip of the Peloponnese, Εlika (Greek: Έλικα) is a small hillside community, with a view to the ςest of the Gulf of Laconia. On the shore itself, 2.5 kilometers away, Elikiotes have been building their summer homes on several named beaches, the most favored being Marathia.
As is typical of Greek history, the frequent waves of immigrants have created closely-knit communities of people whose roots are deeply tied to their ancestral home, and the people from Elika are intensely conscious of their heritage. A good portion of Elikiotes in our area have selected Toms River, New Jersey as their center, and attend and support the Santa Barbara Greek Orthodox Church in that community.
The Elika society was established in 1935, and ever since has been focused on the well known Greek tradition of providing help and support to their motherland. Over the intervening years, donations and collections by Elikiotes-Americans have supported their mother community by building Elika’s Community Center, the Schoolhouse, a home for the Priest, the small harbor, streets and other infrastructure, the Church of Saint Haralambos, and continue supporting the maintenance of the Home for the Aged in that community.
Once a year, the society meets to share their experiences, elect governing council members, approve budgets, and enjoy each other’s company. This past Sunday, after the Holy Liturgy, the Elikiotes assembled for their annual meeting and lunch at the adjacent facility. The meeting, which consisted of well above 100 attendees, was led by the president Despina Houlis, and council members Kaliopi Ploumitsakos, Irene Marousis, Despina Marousis Manatos, and others, plus many other volunteers, including the folks that provided an excellent lunch, enjoyed by all after the invocation by Fr. Paul Pappas, presiding priest of Santa Barbara Greek Orthodox Church.