HANAC to Host 41st Annual Gala
by Eleni Kostopoulos
The Hellenic American Action Committee (HANAC), a multifaceted social services organization, is hosting its much awaited annual gala on Friday, October 25 at the The Mandarin Oriental in New York City. Anywhere between 300 and 500 guests will attend the lavish event, marking 41 years of exemplary community assistance.
George T. Douris founded the organization in 1972 to assist Greek immigrants who were settling in Astoria, Queens, and according to his wife and gala chairperson Evangeline Douris, HANAC’s primary goal is to continue executing this vision of lending a helping hand and a loving heart. “When my husband George and I began HANAC, our goal was to serve our community with excellence, and we have succeeded,” she said. “I intend to continue that excellence.”
HANAC’s Man of the Year for 2013 is Harry E. Giannoulis, president of The Parkside Group, a renown strategic communications and public affairs firm. Like every year, the 2013 honoree was carefully selected among a pool of successful candidates, both for his great achievements in business and his benevolent actions within the community. “I like to honor people from the community who have worked very hard, achieved great success and who are sensitive and respond to those who are less fortunate,” Douris said. “Mr. Giannoulis exemplifies those attributes. He is a powerhouse in the city, but in his own quiet and discreet way, helps those in need. That’s the kind of honorees I have had through the years. There are many successful people like Mr. Giannoulis in our community. It is important that we recognize them.”
The black tie affair will be hosted by Yanna Darilis, president of New Greek TV, Inc., and will feature a cocktail hour at 7:30 pm, followed by dinner and dancing to the sounds of Alpha at 8:30 pm. Though fun will certainly be on the agenda, the main purpose of the gala is to raise the funds that HANAC requires to continue servicing Greek Americans and the community at large.
“HANAC has traditionally depended on the annual gala as its principal fund raising effort,” said Douris.
Like most organizations, HANAC faced some adversity during the recessionary period, but was able to overcome financial challenges and continue servicing the community. “The annual gala is extremely important because much of our funding is restrictive and can not be used freely,” said Douris. “When services from programs are cut, the proceeds from the gala can be used to enhance those programs.”
HANAC provides a wide array of programs to immigrants, seniors, families, youth and those struggling with alcohol and substance abuse, with the intention of bettering the lives of its clients and their loved ones. The organization has many successes under its belt, and Douris takes great pride in its abundant achievements throughout the years. “I am proud of the extraordinary work HANAC has done for 41 years,” said Douris. “I am proud of the talented, dedicated staff that runs our programs. I am proud of the tender loving care we give our elderly, the most vulnerable population. I am proud of our many programs: Youth and Families, Employment, Substance Abuse and Counseling, Home Care, Education, Immigration, Weatherization and so many others. I am proud of the 30,000 clients served annually.”
HANAC’s mission emphasizes not only helping those in need, but providing relief to the distressed caretakers, family members and colleagues of each client. The organization also places special focus on supporting youth, particularly through its Beacon program and after-school and summer youth programs. Furthermore, individuals seek help through HANAC’s substance abuse prevention and treatment services, lessening the burden carried by family members and friends who have struggled as a result. Moving forward, Douris plans on continuing to ensure HANAC thrives, preserving its mission to help those in need. “In the year ahead, we look forward to continue developing affordable housing for the elderly,” said Douris. “Also, based on the needs of the community, we will be pursuing Mental Health licensing and of course, we will continue to identify other needs in the community and pursue funding.”
Though too soon for specifics, Douris said special guests and elected officials will surely attend the much-loved and supported annual event. “A wonderful celebration has been planned and we invite everyone to join us for an elegant and fun evening.”
HANAC sponsors more than 40 programs in at least a dozen locations throughout the four boroughs of New York City. More information about the 41st annual gala can be found at www.hanac.org. Tax-deductible donations can also be made through the organization’s website.