Philoptochos Celebrates 75 Years of Philanthrophy

By Maria Kramitsos
The Greek Star

CHICAGO- It was a glorious gala event that marked the 75th anniversary celebration of the Ladies Philoptochos Society. It was one befitting all the ladies involved.

On Sunday, Nov. 5, the Metropolis of Chicago Ladies Philoptochos Society celebrated its 75th anniversary in grand style at the Drury Lane in Oak Brook. Since Philoptochos was officially organized in November 1931, ladies in other Metropolises were celebrating the milestone as well.

Metropolis of Chicago Philoptochos President Lori Voutiritsas noted that unofficially, Philoptochos was started prior to that date; however, the November 1931 date is the official organization of the society. Quite a milestone, indeed - 75 years of helping those in need. She told the more than 500 guests, "Were here to celebrate those who've served in the past, in the present, and in the future."

His Eminence presents Mrs. Georgia Barris
with a plaque, recognizing her many years of
service Philoptochos, including the Feed the
Hungry Program

As Consul General of Greece Mrs. Aliki Hadji told the group, philanthropy is a Greek word, and the ideals of philanthropy were Greek ideals, from the earliest societies. She expressed her pride in the accomplishments of these women over the last 75 years.

Event chairperson Helen Theodosakis spoke about the legacy of Philoptochos. She thought it perhaps not appropriate to "toot their own horn," but the acknowledgement of their many good works was long overdue. "Many think we are simply hosts at Sunday coffee hour," she shared. Which is a correct perception, one that we need to change, right here and now.

These incredible ladies have been working for generations. Our great­grandmothers, grandmothers, - mothers and aunts have served the church and the community-at-large in these unselfish endeavors. As their name implies, they are definitely; "a friend to the poor," but they are also, so much .more.

Philoptochos donates more than $1,000,000 annually to philanthropic causes. At the Metropolis level, the annual luncheon raises $30,000 for charitable endeavors. The Chicago Philanthropy Fund has distributed more than $800,000 since 1985, and helped hundreds of families through difficult circumstances. The Feed the Hungry Program, which operates from the Annunciation Cathedral, feeds inner city residents in need, throughout the year. They support Philoxenia House, providing temporary housing to families of patients treated at the Mayo Clinic. The Fairy Godmother/Nouna program, grants wishes to terminally ill adults. The Quilt-a-Thon brings together members and people of the community to fushion quilts and pillows to provide comfort to hospitalized children affected with HIV. The new Saint Iakovos

His Eminence Iakovos presents Mrs. Helen
Theodosakis with a plaque for her many years
of outstanding service to Philoptochos.

Retreat Center in Wisconsin will offer youth camps and other church related activities. The Hellenic Heart program, sponsors Greek children in need of heart surgery to come to Chicago for their procedures, and provides support to families. The list goes on and on. There are also programs that they work with, in conjunction with the National Philoptochos, including the Cancer Fund, the Children's Medical Fund, National Disaster Fund, St. Basil Academy and the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund. These ladies work tirelessly and unselfishly, all in the name of our beloved Lord and our church. Their reach often goes beyond the Greek community.

His Eminence Metropolitan Iakovos, shared many words of praise for the ladies. He said that often, they are the only stop when a Metropolis ministry is in need, or there is some other need. "The ladies are always very eager and wil!ing to help," he said. He mentioned some of the accolades of Theodosakis, who created the scholarship fund for the seminarians, as well as tie Philanthropy Fund. Also praised was Georgia Barris, for creating and directing the Feed the Hungry program. He commended all the ladies for their outstanding service. He called them "Helpers for all those in great need." He honored all the ladies, in all the chapters. His Eminence also said that they deserved so much more than a plaque, and expressed a heartfelt thank you on behalf of the Metropolis. "They make us very proud," he added.

His Eminence also stated, "I urge the younger ones to join, so they can continue what was started 75 years ago." This is critical. It's time for the next generation to get involved, and learn the ropes, so we can continue the good works of Philoptochos. Many say, "Well, we have young kids, and we do PTA now and other things. We can do Philoptochos later." This is true, but we won't know where to begin.

At some point, these ladies will want to rest, and we must be ready to keep things going. Some of these ladies have been involved for 20 years or more, and while raising young children. In fact, by setting this example, we teach.our children the importance of serving the church, as well as those in need. It's time for the younger ladies, including myself, to step up.

The time has come to get involved and start learning. The small role we take on now will evolve as the years pass. I'm not suggesting that one join and immediately try to take a leadership position, or take on too many things. What I am suggesting, is that the younger generation start getting involved, in small ways, to begin learning the important lessons from these ladies, so when it's time, we can carry the torch. Call it food for thought. Congratulations to our fabulous ladies of the Philoptochos!

(Posting date 29 November 2006)

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