The 61st Annual Chrysanthemum Ball – Largest Turnout Ever!
by Despina Teodorescu
The Greek-American community donned itself in black-tie for the 61st annual Chrysanthemum Ball at the regal Metropolitan Club in Manhattan, New York. It is the largest fundraiser hosted by the Archdiocesan Cathedral Philoptochos Society, under the auspices of Archbishop Demetrios, with 75% of what is raised at this event donated to those in need.
“Our main goal was to extend the philanthropic arm of the Cathedral,” said Catherine Moutoussis, President of the Archdiocesan Cathedral Philoptochos Society. “We hoped to have 175 adult professionals attend, but had over 190 present. It was sold out.”
The Cathedral Philoptochos aims to support individuals and families in crisis and maintain philanthropic programs with $100,000 in contributions annually. “The mission of the Philoptochos is to help people, and that is the most rewarding part of all,” Moutoussis continued. “For the last four years, we support a charity and the adult professionals supported the National Philoptochos Department of Social Services this year. We made a $10,000 donation and Maria Logus, Esq., the newly appointed National Philoptochos Society President, accepted this donation. It was a wonderful occasion to welcome her into our community.”
The National Philoptochos Department of Social Services assists Greek Orthodox and Orthodox Christian individuals and families throughout the United States of America, as well as Greek and Cypriot nationals, regardless of their immigration status, who are in the United States. “With this donation, we will continue to work with those who face housing, health, mental illness or immigration issues, to name just a few concerns for which people sought help in 2013 and 2014,” Maria Logus, Esq. said in a statement to NEO.
This year’s honoree was Aphrodite G. Skeadas, National Philoptochos President Emeritus. Mrs. Skeadas held office for three terms, from 2008-2014. “I am humbled. I do not deserve to be honored. I’m honored every day of my life because I work with the most wonderful women in the world,” she shared. “The Philoptochos women are strong, they get things done, they lead families, they raise children, they support husbands, they build, and I love it.”
“Aphrodite Skeadas’ leadership this past year was a great team effort,” Moutoussis said. “It moved me as a president. We were all able to work hard with five months of planning and it turned out beautifully.”
Many dignitaries were in attendance to share in the occasion, including Bishop Sebastian of Zela, Fr. Robert Stephanopoulos, Ph.D. Dean Emeritus of the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Ambassador Michel Spinellis, Permanent Representative of Greece at the United Nations, Ambassador Nicholas Emiliou, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Cyprus at the United Nations, Ambassador George Eliopoulos, Consul General of Greece, Ambassador Vasilios Philippou, Consul General of the Republic of Cyprus, Jennifer Constantin, President Direct of the Archdiocesan District Philoptochos, Dean Poll and President of the Board of Trustees of the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy.
In conjunction with the Chrysanthemum Ball is the Networking for Young Professionals Gala, a charity event that gives young professionals a more affordable opportunity to network, meet other Greek-Americans in the community and also contribute to a philanthropic cause. “There was an excess of over 300 young professionals not just from New York, but as far as Boston, North Carolina, Washington D.C. and Virginia,” said Justin Bozonelis, Chairperson for the Young Professionals Gala. “We have a significant regional presence, therefore there is a need for the 20-30s age bracket to connect and contribute.”
“It brings people together and gives them a good excuse to meet and socialize,” said George Doulos, a residential and commercial real estate broker for Azure Realty in Astoria, New York. “Every time I mention what I do for a living, people’s eyes light up, they ask for my card and vice versa. You get opportunities that you normally wouldn’t get being in your neighborhood or doing your own routine.”
For the first time this year, $20 from each young professional’s ticket went to Girls’ Education and Mentoring Service (GEMS), the only organization in New York specifically designed to serve and empower girls and young women, ages 12-24, who experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking to exit the commercial sex industry and develop to their full potential. The contributions totaled a $6,000 donation, according to Moutoussis.
“The young professionals are the future of our church,” added Fr. John Vlahos, Dean of the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. “They’re educated, they’re faithful, they’re out there working and so we want them really to feel connected with the church, to come back home and offer those talents… because we need each other, the church and the people.”
This year’s gala was the largest turnout ever, according to Bozonelis, and he is already planning next year’s event, which is set tentatively for June 2015. “It is not only a regional, but a mid-Atlantic magnet for young people to meet other Greek-Americans in the community,” he said.
After the formal portion of the evening, which included an open bar and buffet for the young professionals and the presentation of the donations, music and dancing ensued with DJ Sava of MylosNY and James Koutras, M.D., respectively.
Albeit an energetic and exciting evening, perhaps the most significant part of hosting such a large scale event in the Greek-American community is the opportunity it provides to unite different generations of people under the umbrella of generosity, a staple of the Orthodox Christian faith, which begins with leading by example.
“This is the avenue, not only helping their own but, in an outreach, feeding a person who’s hungry, touching a person’s hand, putting an arm around another person, that’s all that matters in life. What else do we have,” Skeadas shared.
For more information on the Archdiocesan Cathedral Philoptochos Society, their website is ac-philoptochos.com and on the National Philoptochos Department of Social services philoptochos.org/socialservices. For more information on GEMS, please visit girlsarenotforsale.com.