By Aphrodite Kotrotsios, Co-Publisher
On Friday, October 28, 2016 the Greater Philadelphia Committee of IOCC sponsored its Fifth Annual Benefit Banquet. The banquet was held at St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church of Valley Forge-Jeffersonville, PA. Master of Ceremonies for the evening was Anthony Pantazopoulos, Chairman of the Greater Philadelphia Committee of IOCC. V. Rev. Archimandrite Ambrose Bitziadis-Bowers, Dean of St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Vicar of Philadelphia and Greater Delaware Valley Area graced the audience with the opening prayer. Also present were Mark Ohanian, Director of IOCC Programs and Lou Zagami, IOCC Development Officer. The hosts of the evening included Rev. Father Peter Thornberg and the Parish Council of St. Sophia.
Mr. Pantazopoulos started off the evening by thanking all of the attendees and sponsors. A special thank you was addressed to the Media for their invaluable media coverage at of the great work IOCC does. The media included Cosmos Philly, Greek Spirit TV, Stellios Lambrou and of course the Hellenic News of America.
Mr. Pantazopoulos went on to note that ninety-two percent of IOCC’s resources are used directly for humanitarian relief and development programs. Every dollar that is donated to the IOCC, helps secure about seven dollars more of support from governments, foundations and several other organizations. Over twenty-five orthodox churches were present at the event to show their support with over 250 guests. The Philadelphia Chapter of the IOCC started in 2012. Mr. Pantazopoulos shared with the Hellenic News of America, “We now have 21 Pan Orthodox Churches that support our efforts. The important thing to remember is that the IOCC is a humanitarian relief program.” IOCC has presence in over 50 countries of the world and currently is very heavily concentrated in the Middle East. “In four years since we started the chapter here in Philadelphia, we have raised $113,000 and if you multiply that by 7, its roughly $796,000. With this year’s event, we will have raised well over 1 million dollars,” said Mr. Pantazopoulos.
Mark Ohanian, IOCC Director of Programs spoke about the various missions that the IOCC undertakes. Since 2012, IOCC has provided aid to 4 million people. Mark and the IOCC team work in close partnership with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East. Mark touched on the areas they help in most such as agriculture, food security, emergency response, education, health, water & sanitation and economic opportunities for families and communities. They work in areas all over the world providing a better tomorrow for people who have been displaced by various unfortunate situations. His colleague Lou Zagami shared personal stories with the attendees of the evening to help bring the images of the PowerPoint to life.
Please watch the video messages below from Mr. Ohanian: