From memories of hunger, a steadfast commitment to CWS

Pearl Veronis walks because she knows something of hunger first hand. "We did survive," Veronis recalled recently as she prepared for her 38th CROP Hunger Walk in Lancaster, Penn., and spoke of her experiences as a child during World War II in Greece, where she and her family knew the realities of hunger, starvation and deprivation.

Alexander and Pearl Veronis
Pearl and Rev. Alexander Veronis

By Chris Herlinger

Lancaster, PA – Pearl Veronis walks because she knows something of hunger first hand.

"We did survive," Veronis recalled recently as she prepared for her 38th CROP Hunger Walk in Lancaster, Penn., and spoke of her experiences as a child during World War II in Greece, where she and her family knew the realities of hunger, starvation and deprivation.

"My mother had to beg for food," Veronis said, recalling that her mother also put sheets over windows so her children would not wake during the day and ask for food.

Luckily, her family – separated during the war, with her father in the United States – reunited in the US in 1945, when Veronis was 11 years old. She credits her mother's determination, grit and religious faith for the family's survival.

But the memory of hunger still touches her – and is one of the reasons she and her husband, the Rev. Alexander Veronis, a Greek Orthodox priest, have been steadfast supporters and leaders of their CROP Hunger Walk in Lancaster. Alexander and Pearl Veronis have been serving the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church of Lancaster for almost 49 years.

The Rev. Veronis has chaired the annual CROP Hunger Walk in Lancaster since the early 1970s – though it is clear in talking to the Veronises recently at the church that theirs has been a true partnership, a partnership that has helped raise nearly $4.2 million since 1973.

"It's been a blessing for us to see how many persons have been helped through the Walks, locally and internationally," the Rev. Veronis said.

That partnership has been recognized locally and nationally; Church World Service created "The Father Alexander and Pearl Veronis Hunger Fund,” in honor of the couple.

But it is still the work locally that matters.  The Veronises are pleased that 25 percent of funds raised remain in local Lancaster-area food banks to stop hunger.

They are also pleased that their five children, in-laws and grandchildren enthusiastically support the CROP Hunger Walk.

In fact, CROP has been a foundation for the mission work and commitment of one of their children, the Rev. Luke Veronis, who recently became director of the newly established “Missions Institute of Orthodox Christianity” at the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Mass.

While the walks in Lancaster have shorted in length – earlier CROP Hunger Walks included 15- and 20-mile routes – Pearl Veronis said the commitment matters more than "the number of miles walked."

CROP Hunger Walks in Lancaster attract between1,200 to 1,800 persons annually.

Media Contact:
Lesley Crosson, 212-870-2676, lcrosson@churchworldservice.org
Jan Dragin, 781-925-1526, jdragin@gis.net


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