International Friends of ELEPAP Reception in New York

The International Friends of ELEPAP reception was held at Kyma in New York. Among those present, Savvas Konstantinidis, TNH Publisher-Editor Antonis H. Diamataris, Consul General of Greece Konstantinos Koutras, and Yehuda Ben Yishay. (Photo by TNH/Kostas Bej)

NEW YORK – People with disabilities are an integral part of our society. Most people cannot understand that no one can be considered immune from the possibility of diminishing abilities, and how this has the effect of marginalizing people, especially those with intellectual disabilities.

In Greece, relative progress in social inclusion of people with disabilities in previous years has now been suspended due to the economic crisis that has worsened the lives of those with disabilities.

This update – and raising awareness at the same time – took place on December 3, at Kyma restaurant in Manhattan, provided byELEPAP, the Hellenic Society for the Protection and Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons, the first charitable nonprofit in Greece which was founded in 1937.

In its 80 years of operation, ELEPAP has provided services to more than 100,000 children with motor disabilities, brain injuries, and other neurodevelopmental and neurological disorders from birth to adulthood.

ELEPAP President Marianna Moschou and Dr. Lena Skoutelis, pediatrician, particularly moved the guests with their passion and dynamic, purely voluntary, efforts as they arrived from Greece to inaugurate the International Friends of ELEPAP in New York, the international sponsorship and donation division of ELEPAP, and to inform the Greek community about the organization’s efforts and the needfor financial support, which is invaluable in these difficult times in Greece.

Mrs. Moschos spoke to The National Herald and noted that, “I had been working on Citibank’s maritime financing for 33 years. When I left the Bank, I decided to offer my technocratic knowledge to ELEPAP where people had a higher purpose and did their job with the same passion and dedication that Ihad, too.

“In this way I managed to develop ELEPAP, which currently has six centers in Athens, Thessaloniki, Ioannina, Volos, Chania, Agrinio and 200 specialized personnel. It organizes, participates in, and leads workshops, conferences, and seminars in Greece and abroad and applies the most modern and innovative, scientific, therapeutic methods to help more than 1,500 disabled children.”

She thanked those who supported this effort, including the Consul General of Greece in New York Konstantinos Koutras, Atlantic BankPresident Nancy Papaioannou, Kyma co-owners Mike Angeliadis and SteveTenedios, Onassis Foundation President Dr. Anthony Papadimitriou, Yehuda Ben Yishay, TNH Publisher-Editor Antonis H. Diamataris, the Greek television channel Antenna, and many others, who are the leaders of this effort.

Then Dr. Lena Skoutelis, who has volunteered for 28 years with ELEPAP as a pediatrician, after noting the work of the Organization, ended her speech very emotionally, saying that “the Greek word orizontas (horizon) for romantics, doctors, therapists, and presidents represents hope. We at ELEPAP give our soul and our heart for the dream of rehabilitation for children, even if it seems like a utopia. We want to recruit dreamers. Thank you for being the international friends of ELEPAP.”

Among the guests were many businessmen and parents of children with special needs. TNH asked Dr. Antonios Lazanas, head of Portfolio and Index Research at Bloomberg, how important he considers supporting ELEPAP. He replied, “As a parent with a 22-year-old child with disabilities I will tell you from my experience that the sooner you help the child,the higher the level he will reach when he grows up. It is very important that there is organized help, expert people who will explain to parents that it is not their own fault, which will help them understand the behavior of their child, and remain a united family without blaming each other and feeling guilty. We need to strengthen organizations like ELEPAP because that’s the only way we can avoid the tragedies that can happen.”

Kyma was one of the first sponsors for this important foundation meeting of the International Friends of ELEPAP in New York providing the venue as well as the delicacies.

For those interested in more information about ELEPAP, please contact: + 03210-722-8380, + 03 210-725-1121 or email: epikoinonia@elepap.gr.

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