Translation by Lisa Darilis
The 41st Annual HANAC Gala took place at the Mandarin Oriental in New York City on the evening of Friday, October 25th, 2013 and was filled with plenty of distinguished guests. At this event, well-known Greek-American, Harry E. Gainnoulis, who is president of The Parkside Group, was honored with the "HANAC Man of The Year" award.
The choice of Mr. Giannoulis was not by chance, as 25 years ago he got his first job working for the Hellenic American Action Committee (known as HANAC) after school. Since then, he never cut off his relationship with the organization, nor its president, Evangelina Douris, and, in recognition of his contributions, he received this symbolic award.
"My relationship with HANAC began 25 years ago when I got my first job there right after school. At this job, I helped the youth learn how to work in an office, and today, I am the honoree. You have to understand how moving this is for me," stated Mr. Giannoulis.
Greek-Americans George Douris, and his wife Evangelina, created HANAC with the purpose of providing services for young Greek immigrants, and in 1972 they opened up its doors in Astoria, Queens, N.Y. Four decades later, it has become a dispatch point for social services serving people, young and old, and of all types of races and cultures (alongside Greeks), in all of Queens. For doing this, HANAC has won a great amount of recognition and support from both the political and business sectors.
"These people are here because they believe in HANAC's mission. They know that HANAC has made very serious accomplishments and helps everyone. This, therefore, gives us further reason to be proud; because, we are not just an organization only for Greeks - even though that's how we started off - but we are on the side of all people," stated Evangelina Douris, president of HANAC.
There was also a strong presence of political figures at this gala. New York State Senator, Michael Giannaris commented "I see from my office how many people come and get help from HANAC, who does wonderful work for the Greek community. Tonight is an opportunity for us to come closer and meet Mrs. Douris and its other members. Besides, this is the reason why I come here every year." New York State Assembly member, Aravella Simotas, stated "HANAC is very important, not only for the Greek community, but for all of New York. I helps alot of people, especially senior citizens, and this holds true whether they are Greek or not."
HANAC leadership has included some quite distinguished people, such as entrepreneur and recent mayoral political candidate, John Catsimatides, who was also present at the gala. "I was residing president from 1996-1997, and I am extremely happy that today HANAC can help even more people, especially Greeks who now need our help," stated Mr. Catsimatides with his wife Margo at his side. "John and I try to do everything we can for HANAC. Besides, I believe that the purpose of life is to make a difference, something that HANAC and Mrs. Douris are achieving," added Margo.
The esteemed HANAC Gala of 2013 made its mark this year with great success. This year's "Master of Ceremony" was the president of New Greek T.V., Yanna Darilis, who praised the effectiveness of the organization, and paved the path leading to Mrs. Douris' speech. On their part, the members of HANAC pledged their commitment to continue offering their services, and promised to keep the vision of the late George Douris alive.