HANAC's Grand Fete

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“I have been blessed with a Board of Directors, who through the good times and difficult ones, never waved in their support. Their commitment to the mission of the organization helped make our achievements possible,” Evangeline Douris, Chairman of HANAC (Hellenic American Neighborhood Action Committee), declared in her welcoming speech at the agency’s 39th Annual Gala which was dedicated to agency’s Board of Directors.

The event was held this past October at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, in Manhattan, the venue of choice for this annual celebration that has come to mirror in growth and success the organization’s progress.

“HANAC was George Douris' dearest and most lasting achievement. Everything we are began from his initial and ongoing inspiration,” Mrs. Douris continued, visibly moved. “George Douris (her late husband) would be very pleased with the tender loving care given to his creation by its present leadership. I know he would be very proud of our accomplishments.”

HANAC’s Executive Director John P. Kaiteris, was honored with the “Man of the Year” Award, the agency’s highest distinction, presented to people who have stood out with their leadership skills and philanthropy in various fields of endeavor. Mr. Kaiteris joined a very prominent group of people who have received HANAC’s Man of the Year Award, an only fitting case, because he had the opportunity to witness first hand the birth and development of this tradition, having been the organization’s Executive Director/CEO since 1973! His daughter Tanya introduced him at the podium, praising his skills not only as an exemplary professional but as an affectionate father with great sense of humor.

Mr. Kaiteris has a Masters Degree in Social Work from Columbia University and was a Doctoral Candidate in Urban Policy Studies from New York University. He has an extensive background in government service and community relations having worked in the New York City Human Resources Administration and in the Mayor’s Office. He has also been active on community and civic boards. He was a former president of the New York City Council of Senior Centers and Services and the Queens Inter-Agency Council on Aging and a former Chairman of the Queensboro Council for Social Welfare.

“In 1972 HANAC c opened its doors and a year later John Kaiteris came on board as Executive Director. Since then his exemplary leadership and untiring efforts have transformed HANAC into a most respected social service agency. Tonight we are delighted to honor him as “Man of the Year,” said Evangeline Douris.

At the 39th Annual Gala, HANAC’s Board of Directors was presented with the “Spirit of Compassion and Philanthropy” Award. Board Members, besides Chairman Evangeline Douris, include Alexander G. Anagnos, President, Peter A. Vlachos, Vice-President, Arthur Cheliotes, Secretary, Penny Laspalakis, Treasurer, Nikitas Drakotos, Mario Mavricos, Chris Pappas, Steve P. Plangetis and Catherine Saketos.

Peter A. Vlachos responded on behalf of the Board of Directors expressing his heartfelt thanks and his thoughts on the organization’s remarkable progress in almost four decades.

Evangeline Douris extended her gratitude and sincere thanks to all “loyal benefactors for their unwavering support over the years, as well as to Margo and John Catsimatidis, our Honorary Chairs, for always being there for us.” She also expressed “a very special thanks to all the committees. It was an extraordinary team effort of directors, staff, our wonderful seniors from George T. Douris Tower and Archibishop Iakovos Residence. They all participated, making calls for the journal and stuffing envelopes. And of course, Tina Kiamos, always available to direct and give us answers to our questions.”

Greek American comedian Basile took over after the presentations filling the Mandarin Grand Ballroom (which “never is big enough for the HANAC gala,” as Mrs. Douris once remarked) with laughter, going through an array of stories and incidents while growing up Greek in America! Engaging Greeks and non Greeks alike in the audience, true to his word “as an equal opportunity comedian,” Basile concluded his jokes to a standing ovation.

HANAC is a nonprofit service organization founded in Astoria, New York in 1972 by George T. Douris in response to the needs of the growing immigrant community of New York City. The mission of the agency is to develop and administer the operation of service programs for the betterment of the community and to provide these services to any and all who are needy without discrimination as to race, creed, national origin or other defining characteristic.

HANAC’s initial concern with the needs of the new immigrants, the elderly, the youth and their families, has shaped the direction and growth of its services to this day.

Based upon its performance and record of 37 years, the agency has become one of New York City’s largest and most successful multi-service organizations. HANAC provides a wide range of programs from 17 locations to diverse and multi-ethnic communities, touching the lives of over 30,000 individuals annually.

“I have been involved with HANAC since its genesis and it is very close to my heart. I know first hand how it has helped thousands of people throughout the city,” Evangeline Douris concluded.


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