“Saint Nicholas is my life. I love my religion, I love my people, I love to help them.”
My name is Maria Salpeas. I came to the United States back in 1972 with my family, and I work for St. Nicholas as an administrator for thirty-three consecutive years. I came directly from Athens to Baltimore, on February 5th, 1972, with the snow two feet. And it was very unusual for me because it snows but that often as here. I didn’t like it at all. I wanted to go back right away the next day. But eventually, I came for five years, five years became ten years, and here I am after forty-two years. When I came over and I live in Greektown at that time, you could have your evening coffee hour with your neighbors on the steps, exchanging your ideas, or gossiping or whatever, ok? Now you can’t. You can’t, it’s not the same. After eight o’clock, mostly nine, you have to be in your home. You cannot stay outside. I remember we had meetings back in 1984 when I started working here, til about eleven, twelve o’clock, nothing happen, you know. We can go home, even if I was by myself, I could get into my car and go home. Now it’s not the same. Saint Nicholas is my life. I love my religion, I love my people, I love to help them. If they want something I love to communicate with them. I love involving in their lives if they allow me to. And it’s me, it’s my people. I get involved with everything. From dances, from festivals, from, name it. Even though if somebody’s sick, I’m going to send flowers on behalf of the community, on behalf of myself. I have so many friends, you know, over the years, I attend funerals, baptisms, weddings, you know, and everyone knows me as I know everybody. Here, if you want to be a Greek, you have to involve in the Greek life and the Greek life is at St. Nicholas. It’s not only a Church for religion, it’s a place to meet each other, to have a good time, to share your life with them. After Church always on Sundays we have a coffee time. We go downstairs, we meet each other, we say how was our week, you know this kind of stuff, how is our families. We connect every celebration we have with the food. Easter we eat lamb. Christmas, pork, of course or turkey. We don’t have, like, the Americans have you know, turkey, ham, and this is it. The best. It is the best. I like it. But not for every occasion. For us, every celebration is different. You know we have the Greek television, and I watch it every day, and you ask how I connect with Greece, I am connected with that. Antenna. I have three, four channels. and I know all the politics of course what’s going on there. I have an opinion because before I didn’t have anything. Now I know them, I know the politicians I know what is going on there. My dream is to go back, but I don’t think so but maybe in the casket.