By Constantine S. Sirigos
On May 11 the Annual Awards Gala of the AHEPA Greece Solon HJ04 Chalandrion chapter shined a spotlight on “Education, Hellenism, Philanthropy,” and the chapter shined in turn as the dining room and balcony of the Greek Yacht Club with its spectacular views of Piraeus was filled with members and friends interested in learning more about the leading Greek-American organization. Chapter President George Malamo, expat born and raised in Pensacola, FL, greeted guests and thanked the organizers – especially chapter Secretary and PhD candidate in U.S-Greek relations Alexander Drivas – witha classic Ahepan short and sweet speech.
Journalist Konstantinos Bogdanos was the Emcee and the guests were also welcomed by AHEPA Hellas Vice District Governor Kostas Balsamis.
The event’s proceeds benefited one of the honorees, Ινστιτούτο Διεθνών Σχέσεων (ΙΔΙΣ), the Institute for International Relations, which operates under the aegis of Panteion University. Based in Plaka, the institute assists undergraduate and graduate students and PhD candidates in their studies and generates publications on international affairs.
Professor Haralambos Papasotiriou, PhD, Director and Chairman of the Board, accepted the award on behalf of the Institute.
The philanthropic dimension of AHEPA was exemplified by the awards presented to the evening’s two other honorees,the Olympic Truce Centre and The Shelter for Abused Women and Children of the Municipality of Athens, represented by psychologist Georgia Bouri.
The Shelter was inaugurated in June 2013 and operates on a24/7 basis, 365 days a year. Ac-cording to its website – womensos.gr – “specialized staff (social worker, psychologist,pedagogue) provides safe hospitality, food, socio-psychological support and care for our[clients] and their children.
Dr. Constantinos Filis, Director of the International Olympic Truce Centre, was represented by Mariana and Constantina Lekkou, who illustrated its mission and purpose with Nelson Mandella’s famous quote: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
According to its website –www.olympictruce.org – the Centre was inspired by the ancient Olympic Games, which were so revered that all wars ceased when they were being held. The Centre’s “aim is to en-courage nations to observe the Olympic Truce. and to cease hostilities during the Olympic Games. Its hope is to inspire humanity, and create a much needed window of opportunity for dialogue and the peaceful resolution of conflict. Its promise is the possibility of peace beyond the duration of the Games. If we can have peace for 16 days, then maybe, just maybe, we can have it forever.