By Aphrodite Kotrotsios, Co-Publisher
Hellenic News of America and the Mid-Atlantic Greek-American Foundation (MAGAF) organized three unforgettable events in Pennsylvania, New York, and Maryland this January to raise funds for orphans and elders of Epirus, Greece. This event has inspired a dynamic movement within the Greek community that refuses to forget the hardships Greece faces during this time of dire economic need. Every day the ramifications of austerity and the crisis on the Greek people is seen and discussed in the media, but it was Paul Kotrotsios, who tirelessly serves the Hellenic cause in America and in Greece, who remembered the underprivileged and marginalized communities of Greece and decided to make a difference.
Kotrotsios, founder and publisher of the Hellenic News of America, cultivated an innovative idea this past summer when he toured local organizations in Epirus and observed the dire state they were in. He believed he could mobilize the Greek-American community in the surrounding states of his base in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to raise funds and create awareness for the people of Greece. Kotrotsios said, “Our goal is to raise $50,000 that will be distributed to the following organizations: The Orphanage and Elderly House in Konitsa, the Orphanage «Kivotos» in Pogonianni, the Iera Moni Sosinou in Parakalamos, the Cultural Society Demos Pogoniou and the Orphanage of Deropolis in Northern Epirus.” All proceeds raised from the fundraising events will be donated to the five institutions in Epirus, Greece, to ensure their continuation and their prosperity. It is important to mention that there were no administrative fees, or advertising fees and that all persons involved donated their time, efforts and talents to the success of each event.
With hard work and conviction in such a good cause, the “Sergiani Stin Epiro” tour was a success. Kotrotsios was able to recruit Savas Siatras, renowned folk singer of Epirus, Greece, who was the star of the event. Joining in on the musical procession was George Rabos & Orchestra, who was the first to respond to Kotrotsios’ call, Stavros Theodorou, Christos Natsis, and George Bezanis, all of whom donated their time and talent for the success of this great cause. Savas Siatras, known as the voice of Epirus, sang his heart out for the audience at every event. Hundreds of people filled each room and reveled in the music and dance of Epirus. The most amazing aspect of each night was the interaction between Savas Siatras, together with George Rabos & Orchestra, and the audience. The musicians moved from table to table, singing to and greeting guests. During this time, the crowd felt the infectious spirit of Hellenism and enjoyed the traditional folk music and dancing.
With the help of his family and friends, Kotrotsios led three committees in Pennsylvania, New York and Maryland that helped make each event a success. “We thank all members of each committee. Together, the teams worked very hard to achieve a great outcome. Without these individuals, it would have been impossible”.
The Committee Leaders for the following cities are listed below:
Philadelphia – John Lambris, Ph.D., Jenny Kravaris, Spiros Ntontos, Zach Fessaras and Chris Papadopoulos;
New York – Chrisoula Zikopoulos, George Lolis, Angeliki Kolla Alissandratos, Nicholas Bardis, Thymios Papademitris, Stavros Ziogas, Dr. Catherine Tsounis, Vasiliki, and Adriana Filiotis;
Baltimore – Pitsa Balomas, Georgia Vavas, Aris Melissaratos, Stathis Dosis, Xenos Kohilas, Peter Tassis, Dimitris Hios, Alex Karras, and George Moniodis.
“Sergiani Stin Epiro” events made history. Hundreds of Greek-Americans rallied behind this worthy cause to help save and support these organizations in Epirus, Greece. “We are all proud and grateful for all the members of each committee, the musicians, donors, and participants for supporting our mission of helping these organizations in Greece. Our motherland needs us, and this was just one way of giving back,” said Paul Kotrotsios.
Special thanks are expressed to all donors and sponsors for their cooperation, including Aris Melissaratos, Dr. John Lambris & Family, Hellenic News of America/Kotrotsios Family, Christos Marafatsos/Blue Sky Capital, Bill Mataragas/Piech Decorating, Dr. Panagiotis Baltazis, Dr. Dimitris Faller, Demation Society of Philadelphia, St. Paraskevi Society of Philadelphia, Dimitris & Maria Korres of New York Custom Woodwork, Mr. George M. Karas, AHEPA Lord Baltimore Chapter 364, Mr. D. Zicopoulos, Dr. Roxane Hionis, Dr. Peter Patukas, Mr. Andonis Diakatos, Mr. Constantine Larigakis, Ms. Anna Tasiopoulos, Theodore & Toula Onasis, Mr. Panagiotis Avramis, Bayview Pharmacy Inc., Prima Foods, Inc., Mr. George Kitsos of Gondolier Pizza, Efstathios & Maria Dosis, Mr. George Taratsidis, Mr. Mike Hiotis, Mrs. Evangelia Gavrilas & Mr. Erwin Kranz, Mrs. Dina Karamanides, Mr. Stefanos Vranos, Mr. Alkis Koutsiroubas, Hellenic Society Prometheas, Mr. & Mrs. Skiadas of Hank’s Place, Mr. Zach Fessaras, Mr. John Vasiliou and Mr. Konstadinos Koutroubas. In addition, a special thanks to Stellar Imports, Inter Globe Printers, New Greek TV (NGTV), MGTV USA, Antenna, Mega, Greek News, Neo Magazine and the Hellenic News of America for donating their services to the success of the event. Finally, a special thanks to Ikaros Restaurant, Kefalos Society, and Concordville Inn for their outstanding service at each event.