I have been a member of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church since I was baptised. This Church along with the surrounding community has contributed greatly to the person that I have become. I sat down with Tina Mantas, Coordinator of the St. Nicholas Sunday School and Dance Groups to talk about her role and the contributions she has made to the Church over the years.
Tell me about your role as Coordinator of the St. Nicholas Sunday School and Dance Groups and how many years have you been volunteering for the Church?
I have been volunteering for the Church for over 15 years; I hope to dedicate many more wonderful years not only to the Church but to the community. When I first began volunteering, I was in charge of registration for both Sunday school and the dance groups, organised monthly meetings for Sunday school teachers and annual fundraising events as well as coordinating our annual picnic for our Sunday school students and their families. Every week I am present to oversee that everything runs smoothly. If there is a special event or feast day I make sure that I am available, if anyone needs assistance with any of the planned events for the day. For instance, on Sunday of Orthodoxy, I inform the students and ensure that they are available to attend the service for the carrying of the icons.
I am also in charge of writing memos and letters that are sent home with the students. These letters inform parents of the various events and trips that the students and Church may be involved in. It is a way to keep the parents aware of the activities taking place in the community. For example, notifying parents of students about our bi annual food drive.
What continuously motivates you year after year to keep working for St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church?
To be honest, my heart has always been with the Church and will continue to be. When my children were growing up, other people were donating their time so I decided that I wanted to make a difference and got involved. I am so blessed for all the things that I have and the satisfaction that I get from giving back to my community.
What has been your most memorable experience thus far in your role?
With the dance groups it is taking the youth to perform at other surrounding Greek communities, such as St. Catherine’s, Ottawa, Belleville, Peterborough, Oshawa and more. It’s the fun times and the memories made that really have stayed with me and the youth.
For Sunday school it’s Holy Week. Holy Thursday our Youth decorate the Epitafio, we assist in preparing the myrofores for Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Also, during the Service of the Resurrection the myrofores assist our Parish Priest in distributing the Holy Light to the parishioners. These are the memories I keep near to me.
What has been the most challenging aspect of your role?
One of the greatest challenges would be caring for students with special needs. Choosing the right individuals to teach these children and to be available to help them throughout the day has been a rewarding challenge. You have to know how to engage them in an appropriate manner that will maximise their learning. At St. Nicholas we strive to do just that, find these people and ensure the best experience possible for all.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of your role?
The most rewarding aspect would definitely be watching students starting from junior kindergarten, graduating from Grade 12 and then going on to teach Sunday school or dance. It’s truly incredible to see their growth and to watch them volunteer for the Church. Moments like having young students run up to me for a hug and saying good morning. Moments like these remind me how important my role is within the Church. Many of my students stay connected to their religion and their community by volunteering their time to the Church, which is very important.