Earthquake Mobilizes Kefalonian Societies

By Demetris Tsakas and Constantine S. Sirigos

NEW YORK – The various Kefalonian societies in New York, the Ionian Cultural Federation, and the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York are preparing to help the earthquake victims in Kefalonia. A series of meetings have been held and preliminary action has been taken, including communication with Kefalonian authorities and the establishment of bank accounts.

A group of young adults from the Cephalonian Brotherhood Youth have set a goal of $20,000. They and established a page on an internet fundraising facility and have already raised $6608.

During a special meeting that was held on February 6, the Board of Directors of the Cephalonian Association “Kefalos,” decided to donate the first five thousand dollars, to open a special account with Alma Bank and to convene a special general assembly meeting on Sunday, January 16 at the Cephalonian House in Astoria where members will be asked to vote on setting aside constitutional limits to the amount of money that can be raised and distributed without the approval of a general assembly.

At the board meeting of the Cephalonian Brotherhood on February 11, decisions were made to 1) open an account at Investor’s Bank for the Kefalonia Earthquake Relief Fund, 2) to dedicate the proceeds from the organization’s March 22 dinner dance to the Fund, 3) to organize fundraising events at venues that will be donated by Kefalonian business persons, 4) host telethons, 5) work with the community’s musicians who will donate their services for a fundraising concert.

The Kefalonians, as pointed out to TNH by the president of Ainos, Basil Kokosis, the secretary general of Federation of Cephalonian & Ithacian Societies “Odysseus,” Costas Vagelatos , and the general secretary of the Cephalonian Association “Kefalos,” Gerasimos Patrikios, are breathlessly monitoring every tremor in Kefalonia and the damage caused by the earthquake in Lixouri and other areas .

Most of them are in constant communication with their parents and relatives, who despite the tremors, are facing the situation with great composure.

Patrikios told TNH that the board decided to proceed with the opening of a special account at Alma Bank, so that they could ask members to make donations at the general assembly meeting.

Shortly after the meeting of its board, the president and the general secretary of Kefalos , Nick Alysandratos and Patrikios, respectively, sent a letter to the deputy mayor Vangelis Kekatos, informing him of the decisions and asking him to propose how to allocate the money they raise.

Mr. Kekatos, who is responsible for the departments of Welfare and Tourism thanked them and promised that he will soon respond.

The president of Ainos, Basil Kokosis said: “The desire of Cephalonians in the diaspora to help is very touching.”

Asked about the initiatives of Ainos, he “we are in constant contact with our compatriots and local authorities and know the real needs of the earthquake victims.” He added that he is pleased with the activities of the government in behalf of the earthquake victims.

Vagelatos said various fundraising events are being planned and they seek to cooperate with other organizations to ensure maximum participation and effectiveness.

More initiatives will soon be announced.

Four young women who are members of Cephalonian Brotherhood Youth also took action. Stacy Thomatos Pristouris, Koula Linardatos, Tracey Stefanitsis, and Eliana Stefanitsis said they established a fund to start collecting money to send to Kefalonia and are committed to helping in any way they can. “We didn’t want to sit back and wait for someone else to start it,” Pristouris told TNH.

“We are aiming to surpass our goal of $20,000 and do the best we can to send as much as we can to our beautiful Island. We can make one promise and that is that we will personally see that every penny is accounted for and spent wisely. A few of us are willing to fly to Kefalonia and oversee every dollar of our donations. We can assure the public that the money will go into the right hands.”

Gofundme.com is a website that enables any person to raise funds for any cause. There is a 5% service fee. The Earthquake Relief Fund: Kefalonia, Greece can be accessed at www.gofundme.com/6n09lg.