Hellenic Relief Foundation Remembers Homeland At Vasilopita
They came in the 1960’s and 70”s in the largest immigration wave since the 1920’s. They encountered obstacles. They overcame, establishing a permanent Greek presence in mainstream America. On March 26, 1965, His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos was the only church leader to walk hand in hand with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr in Selma, Alabama. “Almost forty-eight years later, His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios was the only religious leader asked by President Barack Obama to give the benediction at the 2013Congressional Inaugural Luncheon,” said Kosta Koutsoubis, my Physical Therapist. His Eminence on C-Span said this was “the greatest honor in his life.” These events testify to the extraordinary success of the Greek-Americans.
Their identity and world image is at its lowest point in modern history. Distrust exists towards the government. Middle Class Greek-Americans developed an initiative known as the Hellenic Relief Foundation. All proceeds are used to buy food from local sources in Greece for distribution to people who have been affected by the current crisis. Their motto is “Preserving Dignity in Crisis”.
The One Year Anniversary Luncheon and Vasilopita cutting was held on Sunday afternoon at the Cretan House “Omonia” at 32-33 31st Street in Astoria. Live music featured: Eleni Andreou, vocalist; Tasos Papaioannou, guitar; Costas Psarros, bouzouki and Glafkos Kontemeniotis, piano. The Kritiko Spiti “Omonia” donated their hall for the social. Over three hundred persons attended from every community organization.
Mary Vasilakou, a retired, international educator and active Prometheus Greek American Association member, was the first major donor in the Hellenic Relief Foundation. Their purpose is to secure funds and give it directly to Middle Class Greeks jeopardized by the austerity measures in Greece. The Board of Directors include: Dinos Avlonitis; Stephen Ferranti; Georgia Filiotis; Dr. Nichjolas Mezitis, MD; Stelios Taketzis; Demetrios Tsatis, Esq. Fotis Tsatis; Mary Vasilakou; Philip Vogiatzoglou-Vogis; John Zervas and Procopi-Peter Zervas.
This is a movement of the people. They are distressed that relatives and friends are suffering. Many are permanently unemployed. Massive government layoffs have created a humanitarian crisis. Our friend Despina said “there is real hunger in Heraklion. The persons in the villages have food, because they raise crops on their land. Our friend Vasso in Athens said “we must pay for rent, mortgages, utilities and medicines with little money left for food.” The immigrants from Africa, Asia and the former Soviet Union are hardest hit by the economic catastrophe. Some believe it is worse than the German occupation of Greece during WWII.
For more information, visit http://www.hellenicrelief.org/en/, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 347 201-1821.
http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/310527-1- Archbishop Demetrios’ benediction at the 2013 Congressional Inaugural Luncheon 1/21/2013