The Best Medicine

Nancy Liverakos, of Highland Park, works with Women Aware and Amandla Crossing.

Photo by John Emerson.

Nancy Liverakos will tell you she suffers from a heart condition, but the 96-year-old has more heart—and drive—than many people half her age. “My volunteer work is my best medicine,” she says. “I’m taking thirteen pills, but they don’t help me as much as these things help me.”

“These things” are the volunteer projects the Highland Park resident coordinates for local organizations, especially Women Aware Inc., a New Brunswick agency for victims of domestic violence, and Amandla Crossing, a transitional housing program in Edison for homeless, single-parent families on public assistance.
In 1995, Liverakos began organizing monthly and holiday meals for Women Aware’s residents. Each month, she would personally shop for supplies, gather volunteers, and help cook the meal at St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Piscataway. Her granddaughter Arete Bouhlas says if Liverakos could not assemble enough volunteers, she would prepare the meal herself out of her own kitchen. A mother of two and grandmother of two, Liverakos also bakes cookies with her church group, Philoptochos, which is Greek for “friends of the poor,” to bring to Amandla Crossing’s residents every Christmas.

Her church still hosts the monthly and holiday meals, but Liverakos is not as involved. “I can’t go shopping,” she says. “I’m old, you know.” Instead, the retired seamstress is focusing on donating items she knits to Amandla’s Crossing, the New Jersey Chapter of Newborns in Need, and local nursing homes. “Wherever I sit down, I have work to do,” she says, pointing out the numerous blankets, hats, and shawls she has started that are strewn about her house. “My house is a factory.”

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