Effy Alexakis has captured the philanthropic essence of Father Nektarios – the former parish priest at the Greek Orthodox church of Sts Constantine and Helen in Newtown – in her latest photographic book The Heart of Giving – Father Nektarios’ Soup Kitchen.
Father Nektarios first started the Soup Kitchen 33 years ago when he was serving at St Nicholas Greek Orthodox church in Marrickville. The Soup Kitchen was later transferred to Newtown when Father Nektarios was appointed to the Greek Orthodox church there.
The book documents the last few years of Father Nektarios’ work at the Soup Kitchen, and looks at the volunteers who are now continuing their volunteering with Father Nicholas Stavropoulos and adding to the legacy initiated by Fr Nektarios.
Interspersed throughout are also photographs of the work of other food initiatives set up by parishes such as Kogarah and Surry Hills, as well as a photographic essay by Anastasios Zervopoulos of the Soup Kitchen in pre-COVID times.
It’s clear Father Nektarios has touched the hearts of many and so it comes as no surprise Alexakis’ book launch on Sunday, December 3 at St Nicholas Greek Orthodox church in Marrickville was well attended.
Official guests included Father Nekatrios himself; Bishop Christodoulos of Magnesia; the Consul General of Greece in Sydney, Ioannis Mallikourtis; the Chair of the Greek Festival of Sydney, Nia Karteris; the President of the Hellenic Lyceum of Sydney, Liana Vertzayias; the honourary President of the Ethnic Communities’ Council of NSW, Jack Passaris; and a number of other clergy and representatives from local Greek community associations.
The book launch was emceed by Panagiota Zouriakas and featured speeches by the Bishop, Father Nektarios and Ms Alexakis.
In her speech, Ms Alexakis spoke about how the process of photographing and producing the book “changed her.”
“Photographing people experiencing homelessness is a sensitive area, my intention was never to objectify people in need and I hope my photography reflects this. I wanted to do justice to the selfless volunteers and to give major respect and credit to Father Nektarios’ significant life’s work,” Ms Alexakis said.
“Without sounding too melodramatic, the book and the philanthropy and kindness of the people I met has changed me. The book looks at community, it looks at people showing kindness and support for each other. It is an amazing feel good story, especially post-COVID.”
The Heart of Giving – Father Nektarios’ Soup Kitchen by Effy Alexakis is available at: www.cafesandmilkbars.com.au
*All photos have been supplied by Yannis Dramitinos.