DES PLAINES, IL – The United Hellenic Voters of America (UHVA) held its annual dinner dance Sunday, October 21 at Fountain Blue Banquets and Conference Center in Des Plaines, Illinois, celebrating the achievements of the Greek-American community and friends. The event commenced with a live Greek and American national anthem performance by Lori Theodore, followed by a words from UHVA National Supreme Chairman Kiki Whitehead.
“At a time when our country is at its most divisive, it is heartwarming to see all of us come together in a nonpartisan environment,” Whitehead said. “As Hellenes and philhellenes, we are able to put the political rhetoric aside and rally as one community,” she added.
Present during the evening dinner was Governor of Illinois Bruce Rauner, who said he will travel to Athens next year to foster “trade and investment and tourism…between the people of Greece and the people of Illinois.”
“The Greek community is so vibrant because you have leaders in every walk of life…in education, arts, culture, in business and healthcare,” Rauner said. “The Greek community is involved in entrepreneurship, in starting and running small businesses, and I am a strong advocate for our small business owners.”
Legislator of the Year was Cook County Commissioner and Chairman of the Cook County Law Committee, Peter Silvestri. First Assistant of DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Office, Joseph A. Ruggiero, was honored with the Excellence in the Field of Criminal Justice plaque, while the Mayor of the Year Award was presented to Angelo “Skip” Saviano, mayor of the city of Elmwood Park.
His Eminence Metropolitan Nathaniel of Chicago was honored for his service as one of this year’s UHVA Most Distinguished Greek-Americans, in the category of religion.
“We shouldn’t just think about our own needs, that’s not being Hellenic. It’s not being Orthodox just to care about ourselves. It’s not right for us to just care about our 401ks and stock portfolios, but we should care about the tens of thousands of people who can’t find jobs or can’t afford to buy the basic necessities or send their kids to school,” Metropolitan Nathaniel said.
“We shouldn’t just care about lowering our taxes, but making jobs accessible to people. We should not just vote for people who help those who have the means of seeking justice…the elite… those who have prominent names, but actually allowing the low man, the no-name to seek justice. We shouldn’t just seek religious freedom for the Orthodox Church, but for all faiths, and even the right of people to have no faith, he said.
Sotiris Rekoumis was awarded a Most Distinguished Greek-Americans plaque for the category of news and media, while attorney Georgia Loukas Demeros received the award in the category of law.
“In addition to working with the Hellenic Bar Association, preserving the Greek language, our culture and our faith, has been another priority for me,” Loukas Demeros said. “The Greek language is a language that has never ceased to be spoken, and our culture is one that is admired and envied all over the world,” she added.
The Pythagoras Children’s Academy was awarded as Most Distinguished Organization for 2018. Restaurant of the Year was the newly-established Briki Cafe. Inducted into the UHVA Hall of Fame was UHVA Board Chairman Nicholas Pappas, while the UHVA Service Award went to UHVA National Advisory Council Chairman and Village of Addison Trustee, Harry Theodore.
Founded in 1974, the United Hellenic Voters of America is a nonpartisan grassroots political organization serving the Greek-American community in the Chicago metropolitan area with chapters in several other parts of the country. The UHVA addresses issues vital to Greek-Americans by participating in political and community affairs, and by establishing relationships with elected officials.