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Pan Gregorian’s Charitable Arm Celebrates 30 Years and Honors George Siamboulis
Pan Gregorian’s well-known and beloved President George Siamboulis was this year’s Honoree at the lavish 30th Annual Gala of P.G.E.I. (Pan Gregorian Enterprises inc.) of America Charitable Foundation, which was held at The Venetian, in Garfield, NJ. Dr. Michael Manolios, who served as Master of Ceremonies, opened the program and welcomed dignitaries and guests at the annual gathering that brings together people from the food industry and their families and friends and does good for the society at large through donations that have surpassed two million dollars in value.
From left, Zoe Kyrkos Vlahos, Maria Stavron, John P. Kallas, Chris Karamanos, Mike Zavolas, Gus Vetsas, James E. Logothetis, Andreas Kaiafas, Evangelia Siamboulis, Toni Mpletsakis, George D. Siamboulis, Dr. Michael Manolios, Alex Alexandris, Alex Theodosiou, Steve Siderias, Tom Lambros; PHOTO: ETA PRESS
“The 30th Anniversary proves that hard work and dedication leads to success. This great accomplishment shows that the vision of our founder, the late George M. Manolios, has become reality,” said Mr. Siamboulis, visibly moved after accepting the award that he has given to so many other notable members of the community. “I am proud to be part of both the Pan Gregorian Enterprises and the P.G.E.I. of American Charitable Foundation and I know we will continue in striving to make the foundation better and stronger with each passing year.” He also expressed his gratitude for being selected as the Honoree to mark the 30th year anniversary, a significant milestone that talks volumes about the success of this ambitious undertaking.
Praise came galore for the Honoree and it was heartfelt and well-deserved. Former President John Sakellaris, current Chairman of the Charitable Foundation, who was unable to attend, in a written statement said of Siamboulis, “I am truly honored and privileged to call him my colleague and friend. Throughout the years, his determination and tireless efforts have shown through in the success of our unique organization.”
James Logotheris, the Charitable Foundation President, said of Siamboulis that “his leadership, hard work and dedication have had an enormous impact on the continuation of the vision of the late George Maniolios for Pan Gregorian Enterprises and P.G.E.I of America.”
Professor Panos Georgopoulos, of the Elytis Greek Chair at Rutgers University, praised Mr. Siamboulis for his “steadfast support” of Greek education in America and the Elytis Chair in particular. “Mr. Siamboulis’ lifelong achievements that combine professional success with selfless service, faith, philanthropy and patriotism are an inspiration to all of us and in particular to the younger members of our community.”
Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey called Siabmoulis “a man who has dedicated himself to the advancement of the Pan Gregorian enterprises and its Charitable Foundation.” He also expressed the hope that “all of us gathered here this evening will be inspired by the benevolent work being accomplished by the P.G.E.I. so that all of us will continue to offer assistance to all those who are suffering and in despair.”
George Siambolis was born in the village of Kalesmeno, in Central Greece. He married his childhood sweetheart Evangelia Kotsiana and they moved to Athens in 1963, where they had their two daughters. Life wasn’t easy in Greece at that time and Mr. Siamboulis was an entrepreneurial spirit. In 1969 they moved to the US, to West Orange, NJ, in search of better business opportunities and better education for their daughters. In just two years after his arrival to the US, Siamboulis was able to buy his first restaurant in Clifton. In 1974 he bought the Tom Sawyer Diner in Paramus, of which after 40 years he is still the proud owner. His business ethics, his great organizational skills, and attention to food quality as well as customer service, made Tom Sawyer a landmark in Bergen County.
In 2006 a fire reduced to ashes his diner and his work of more than three decades was destroyed. It was then, as he stood with his family in front of the burning ruins that he made the decision to rebuild it. He owed it to the generations of people who considered this restaurant a haven of comfort, food and relaxation. Eventually he built an even-more beautiful restaurant, a gem in the greater Paramus area. Customers were standing patiently in line to get a table the first day after it was reopened. This time, his daughters and sons-in-law got involved helping remake Tom Sawyer the great success that it is.
George Siamboulis has been affiliated with Pan Gregorian Enterprises of New Jersey since 1983. In 1991 he was elected a member of the Board of Directors and he served as Vice President before becoming President in 1998 and President of Pan Gregorian of America since its inception in 2009. He has also served the P.G.E.I. of America Charitable Foundation in various capacities and is currently serving as Assistant Treasurer. As he often says, “philanthropy is an engine for positive social change worldwide.”
In the wider community, he has served on all positions for the Board of Kalesmeno Society, the Evrytania Society and the Velouchi Association. He has also served the Parish of St. Athanasios in Paramus for the last 17 years as member of the Executive Board. He is an active member of the AHEPA Chapter #54 and in 1988 he became Archon of the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle.
He resides in Washington Township with his wife Evangelia. Their daughters Paraskevi and Aspasia with their husbands Stylianos Spyrou and Kostas Panagiotopoulos respectively, gave them six grandchildren. They all live in New Jersey.
The Charitable Foundation was established in 1987 as the philanthropic arm of Pan Gregorian Enterprises, Inc. and has eased the suffering of children with serious diseases. The organization’s charitable activities express the gratitude of the membership to their patrons and general public for supporting their diners and restaurants.
According to Mr. Logothetis, “the organization has succeeded over the years in donating over $2,000,000 to W.T.C. Relief fund of Victims 9/11; Greek Children’s Fund at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; Tomorrow’s Children’s Fund at Hackensack hospital; Cyprus Children’s Fund; Deborah Hospital- Heart and Lung Center; Ronald McDonald House; St. Basil’s Academy; Pan Epirotic Federation of America, Canada and Australia; Rutgers University; Earthquake Victims; B’nai B’rith Foundation; St. Michael’s Home for the Aged and other charitable causes.” This year donations went to the Greek Metropolis of NJ ($5,000), Saint Basil’s Academy ($5,000), Elytis Chair ($5,000), Cyprus Children Fund ($5,000) and Ronald McDonald House ($3,000)
The foundation’s contributions are raised through its annual charity banquet, souvenir journal, raffles, concerts and coin boxes at Pan Gregorian’s member locations. The foundation’s trustees, members, vendors and friends have contributed to its success.
Pan Gregorian Enterprises, Inc. (PGE) is a food service cooperative, which was formed by Greek American restaurant owners. PGE began in New Jersey, but with success the concept quickly expanded to Metro New York & Long Island, Upper New York and Connecticut.