PAAHonors Excellence at Gala Event

By George Zorbas
The Greek Star

NEW YORK -The Pancretan Association of America (PAA) honored Former Prime Minister and Honorary New Democracy Party Chairman Constantine Mitsotakis and philanthropist and Sacramento region's largest land developer Angelo Tsakopoulos as examples of commitment to excellence.

At a tremendously successful awards gala in New York on Sept. 29, the PAA bestowed its Venizelos award on Mr. Mitsotakis in recognition of his significant contributions to public service and its Kazantzakis award on Mr. Tsakopoulos for his support of the arts and letters.

The Venizelos Award, named after the Cretan statesman Eleftherios Venjzelos, recognizes individuals for excellence in the fields of government, diplomacy and civil service, and the Kazantzakis Award, named after renowned author and philosopher Nikos Kazantzakis, identifies an individual's valuable contributions and prominence in the arts and letters.

Awards Gala Chair Kostantinos Travayiakis welcomed over 800 people--Minister of Foreign Affairs Dora Bakoyannis, Greek American community members, business and political leaders among them-to the Terrace on the Park in Queens, in an evening he described as magical and full of pride. The evening included a press conference, cocktail reception and remarks from PAA president Manolis Velivasakis who pointed out that the awards are the highest honors of distinction the Pancretan Association can bestow on worthy and accomplished individuals.

Mr. Tsakopoulos accepted the award on behalf, as he said, of his extended family, members of which are "so enthusiastic about making not just this country, not just Greece but the whole world a better place for all of us to live." He concluded his speech by urging the crowd to support young people in politics. "Get involved," he repeated, "that is the Greek way."

Mr. Mitsotakis expressed his gratitude for the award and welcomed the chance to meet again with his beloved Cretans, old friends, new ones and above all, the new generation.

The program concluded with Cretan dances and music by Cretan musicians for everyone's enjoyment.

(Posting date 2 November 2006)

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