Addison, Ill.-based United Hellenic Voters of America (UHVA) celebrated the achievements of Greek-Americans and philhellenes at their 45th annual gala, held at the Fountain Blue Banquets, October 20th. Judges, attorneys, government officials, business owners, doctors, professors and artists were among the hundreds who attended.
The evening commenced with an introduction from mistress of ceremonies, Maryanna Callas, and an invocation by His Eminence Metropolitan Nathaniel, while the American and Greek national anthems were sung by Lori Theodore.
“I am often asked, ‘how can you possibly be a non-partisan organization?’ Well, I think President John F. Kennedy said it best. ‘Let us not seek the Republican answer, or the Democratic answer, but the right answer,” said UHVA National Supreme Chairman, Kiki Whitehead. “It is within that spirit that we have forged on for over four decades, choosing people, not parties,” she said.
Established in 1974 under the vision of founder Dr. Dimitrios Kyriazopoulos, UHVA is a grass roots political organization serving the Greek American community in the Chicago metropolitan area with chapters in several other parts of the country.
“We are dedicated to addressing issues that are important to the Greek American community by actively participating in political and community efforts and by establishing close relationships with our elected officials,” said UHVA Chairman of the Board, Nick Pappas. “In the United States, we remind our government leaders that Americans and Greeks share a commitment to democracy, individual freedoms, and the Western way of life,” he said.
During the evening, UHVA for the first time honored a Philhellene of the Year. The award went to Chairman of the PanHellenic Scholarship Foundation, Robert A. Buhler.
“As a non-Greek committed to preserving and enhancing Hellenism and the Orthodox faith, I have a very different perspective than if I were Greek,” Buhler said. “I cherish the family values common to most Hellenes, the importance of integrity, hard work, one’s personal reputation, their family’s reputation, their respect for elders, insisting on high standards, the strength of Orthodoxy, and so much more. All these values may be commonplace in the Greek culture, but they are not as evident every culture.”
In his award acceptance speech, Buhler stressed the importance of introducing non-Greeks to the Hellenic culture. “We need to reach out to more non-Greeks and draw them in,” he said. “We need philhellenes who can help us make a difference, who can help us with the difficult issues our culture faces currently.”
UHVA’s Mayor of the Year award was given to Mayor of Waukegan, Sam Cunningham, while Commissioner Michael Cabonargi was named Legislator of the Year.
This year’s group of most distinguished Greek Americans included the Reverend Timothy G. Bakakos (Religion), Steve Theofanous (Business), Georgia Katsis (Education), and the PanHellenic Scholarship Foundation (Organization).