NEW YORK – Three rising young political leaders, New York State Senator Michael Gianaris, Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, City Councilman Costa Constantinides – Astoria’s Greek political trifecta – were honored as “Persons of the Year by HANAC on October 23, along with Stacy Agrapides, who was named as the social service organizations “Volunteer of the Year.”
The 43rd Annual Gala of HANAC, the social service organization founded in 1972 by the late George Douris to help vulnerable populations throughout New York City but with a special emphasis on the Greek and Cypriot-American community, was held in the ballroom of the Mandarin Hotel.
George Mihaltses, VP at the New York Public Library served as the Emcee backed up musically the band Alpha and literally by the window walls with spectacular views of Manhattan at night. After Father Nick Anctil offered the invocation Mihaltses invited HANAC Chairman Evangeline Douris to the podium.
She good-naturedly chided Mihaltses for giving her whole speech – an overview of the history and services of the organization which range from jobs and substance abuse to youth and senior citizens programs and three affordable senior housing complexes – and counting.
HANAC continues to serve New York’s immigrant population, one of the organization’s founding missions that ensured that Hellenes would not be alone when they arrived. Rather they welcomed and given head starts in their pursuit if the American dream through language classes and other programs.
She offered thanks, later echoed by the President of HANAC Nikitas Drakotas, to the staff, especially her assistant Tina Kiamos, the volunteers and benefactors of HANAC. The gala is the main annual fundraiser in the face of perpetual budget squeezing. She also thanked current and past Board members, singling out John Catsimatidis.
There were numerous references to the impending World Series Appearance of the New York Mets by Mihaltses and others. His wife Haeda Mihaltses, former senior aide of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and HANAC Board member, is now a top Mets official.