Philanthropic and Healthcare


Greek American Retirement Club

The Greek American Retirement Club is a social/philanthropic institution that lies in the Greek community of Astoria, Queens. When you first walk in, there is a cloud of smoke hovering over the heads of many of the old folks that live in the neighborhood. The place is mostly occupied by men who come to this building to partake in activities such as playing cards or backgammon. The retirement club serves to entertain the elderly; there is a television available, good food, and Greek coffee. The walls are adorned with the Greek flag and represent their pride in their culture.


Greek American Retirement Club, located at 33-20 23rd Ave. Astoria, holds flags of both nations. Image courtesy of Shahrin Azim

Not only does this place house the elderly, it is also a safe space that protects them from ending up in nursing homes. In the Greek culture, it is not appropriate to send an older member of the family to a nursing home. During the golden age of Greece, taking care of your elderly mother or father or any member was a sacred duty known as gerobaskia1. Those who did not fulfill this obligation was penalized legally by Greek law. Even in the contemporary Greek society, taking care of older family members is very important.


Window into kitchen where food is prepared. Image courtesy of Selena Bermeo


Steven plays backgammon with member of the club. Image courtesy of Shahrin Azim


Although families may move into different homes, the connection between the nuclear family and the extended family does not disintegrate. The families try to stay in contact. In this way, the elders do not become lonely2. The Greek American Retirement Club also helps to ensure that companionship in old age is never lost as there are many people in the building who are ready to converse, play a game of cards, smoke, or dine with you.



Kafenion from 1952. Image Courtesy of FormerDays

The atmosphere of the retirement club is reminiscent of the kafenio that existed in the early 20th century during the wave of Greek immigration, bringing in approximately 350,000 Greeks3. The working class of Greek men would gather in kafenio or coffee houses; they would spend their time meeting new people, playing games like backgammon, drink and smoke, listen to the news through media, and gossip4.

The traditions of the kafenio and care for the elderly have been combined into the Greek American Retirement Club. It preserves the traditions of the Greek immigrants while satisfying the elderly members of the Greek community in Astoria, Queens.


Two older Greek men sit and enjoy Greek coffee. Image courtesy of Selena Bermeo



One healthcare facility found in Astoria is Arapidis Foot Care. This healthcare institution is involved in podiatry and is headed by Dr. Ioannis Arapidis. He is a Greek doctor of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery and offers a wide range of services, including X-rays and laser surgery, to patients with foot and ankle conditions. He attends many podiatric conferences, where he is informed on improved surgical approaches. Although he appeals mostly to the Greek population, his services are open to everyone in the Astoria community.5

Arapidis Footcare located at 22-52 33rd St, Astoria N.Y. 11105

Arapidis Footcare located at 22-52 33rd St, Astoria N.Y. 11105. Image courtesy of Shahrin Azim

 Authors: Shahrin Azim & Kavita Sawh