A few years back, after the “Romanian Revolution” (December 1989), an American gentleman visited our Church, for a few Sundays in a row, with 2 disadvantaged Romanian Children, Alexandra and Ciprian (ages 10 and 12), invited to visit this Country.


These two children, brother and sister, sung in our Church, Ciprian helped in the Altar, while Alexandra, occasionally, drifted out of the service to help “Papa Bob" take care of another “very special child”, with even more special medical needs, Johanna Brandenberger Hodes.



Johanna was born with a rare genetic condition known as Trisomy 18.  Only one in ten of these children are born alive, and only one in ten of those will survive their first year.  After that, all one knows is that these children will never walk or talk or be able to do anything for themselves.  But despite all this, the Trisomy 18 child can be remarkably happy, intuitive, and unconditionally loving--almost the definition of an Angel. Johanna was just that for all of her 14 years.


To the left: Ciprian & Alexandra singing Christmas Carols to Johanna


In 2003, Johanna suddendly died, slipped away during her afternoon nap. Mr. Bob Hodes cries:  “my wife's only child”.


The family decided to establish a Foundation in Johanna’s name, TOTALLY founded (100%) by the family, in order to help poor children, all over the world, and children with “special needs” like Johanna’s.


Johanna became a "Magic Carpet" for other disadvantaged children--children who loved her and who she loved.  Ciprian and Alexandra, and another child named India, the Hodes were the first.  Because of the experience with Johanna, the Hodes were inspired to help these kinds of “unprivileged” kids in any way they could.  And after Johanna died the Hodes formed a Foundation in Switzerland, where the Hodes now live for much of their times, to carry on their work.


Their efforts have drawn them to Romania.  The Hodes are presently supporting Alexandra and Ciprian in an excellent music school in Piatra Neamt.  The Hodes have obtained necessary surgery for several Romanian children, both in Romania and in Switzerland.  They are presently in the process of creating a kind of "Head Start" program in Budesti, a very poor village in northeastern Romania.  And they are supporting the musical education of talented children such as the three boys, whose short biographies you, the reader, will find below, and hopefully will meet on Christmas Day.  In the near future the Hodes hope to bring Romanian youths to Switzerland to learn German and to participate in Swiss apprenticeship programs, where they can learn a trade that will serve them either in Romania or anywhere else in Europe, as they choose. 


At present, the Johanna Foundation is in a "learning phase."  The Hodes have found that it is surprisingly difficult to help people non-destructively, and therefore the Hodes are moving slowly and carefully, and for that reason the Hodes do not as yet accept outside donations. But the Hodes are happy to let the community know about them, and perhaps others who have tried to help, or who are in fact helping, which will give them the benefit of their experience.


Johanna's Magic Carpet is still flying.


Mr. Iulian Trofin, the Maestro, who will be bringing the three young pianists to America, for this Christmas Season, agrees to prepare the boys to give a 30 minute concert, half of which will be their regular concert repertoire (emphasis on Romanian composers), and half of which will be "Christmas Music." 


We hope that our congregation members will love this short concert, and these young Romanian boys!, and will help in any way they could to help such a worthy cause. 




Pianist: Andrei Gologan (Born Dec. 1st, 1992)


Student of Liceul de Arta Piatra Neamt, the VI grade.

First Prize at Minerbio International Competition, Italy (2001).

Jury’s Special Prize Arca D’oro  Reggio Emilia, Italy (2001).

First Prize at Carpinete in Musica (Itlaly 2005), other first prizes at piano competitions in Romania.  Participated in piano concerts & recitals in Romania, Italy (2004 & 2005), Hungary (2004), Switzerland (2004).




Pianist: George Todica (Born August 28th, 1993)


Student of Liceul de Arta Iasi, the VI grade.

New to the group, he marks his presence with his tenacious & dynamic energy. Numerous prizes in Romania.





Pianist: Daniel Ciobanu (Born June 26th, 1991)


Student of Liceul de Arta Piatra Neamt, the VIII grade. 

Winner of the Grand Prize at the National Competition Carl Czerny (2005), First Prize at Carpinete in Musica (Itlaly 2005), numerous other first prizes at piano competitions in Romania.  Participated in piano concerts & recitals in Romania, Italy (2004 & 2005), Hungary (2004), Switzerland (2004).


As the Hodes work closely with the Johanna’s Foundation principles (Mr. & Mrs. Bob Hodes), the Hodes do ask our Romanian-American community to support such a worthy cause, primarily attending the events the Johanna’s Foundation will organize for the benefit of the “unprivileged” but equally “very talented Romanian Children”


Pledge to attend our Church Christmas Program on Sunday, December 25, 2005, at 12:30 pm, at “Holy Trinity Romanian Orthodox Church” (3315 Verdugo Rd., Los Angeles, CA 90065) – Directions.


Back to “Viata Crestina


For any correspondence and contacts, please e-mail us at:


Sincerely yours,

(V.Rev.Fr.) Constantin Alecse