NEW YORK— Famed Greek-American architect Saky Yakas was honored as Person of the Year at HANAC’s 44th Annual Gala, held at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Manhattan on October 21.
Born in then-occupied Athens in 1944, Yakas earned the Certificate in Architecture and Diploma in Architecture at the Polytechnic of Central London School of Architecture. He is a partner at SLCE Architects, LLP with professional registration in New York, New Jersey, Greece, and Great Britain. Yakas designed the George Douris Tower, and two buildings soon to be built for HANAC among many other buildings worldwide. Chairman of HANAC Evangeline Douris noted that Yakas is “not only a talented professional, but also an outstanding person.”
Yakas was introduced by his wife, Lisa Keller, who mentioned how they met and praised her husband’s work ethic and professional achievements.
In his speech, Yakas noted SLCE Architects’ productivity and how in recent years the firm has designed more than 3,500 buildings, including some of the most impressive structures in midtown Manhattan.
At the same time, he revealed that in the last five years he fought two different battles against cancer and won, thanks to the excellent care of his doctors.
Eileen Baker received the Volunteer of the Year award and also moved the audience when she referred to the loss of her daughter. She thanked HANAC for their support in difficult times.
The guests were entertained with a dance performed by the children from various HANAC programs. Many of the attendees have been supporters of HANAC for its 44 years.
“I happened to know very well the founder George Douris and it is significant that his wife continues this work,” said entrepreneur Mike Angeliadis. The presenter of the evening, popular comedian Basile Katsikis observed that HANAC was founded by Greek expatriates, but eventually “embraced the entire community.”
Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas has been an active member of the organization. She said, “I grew up with HANAC, participated as a counselor in the summer camps. I am very proud of the organization.”
The need for public support of HANAC was pointed out by Greek-American former FBI Director in New York, George Venizelos, who also attended the event.
Evangeline Douris said that more than 400 people attended, observing that this support demonstrates “the impact of HANAC’s efforts to help social groups such as the elderly and young children.”
Also present were US Representative Carolyn Maloney, the Consul of Greece in New York Emmanuel Koubarakis, the Consul General of the Republic of Cyprus Vassilis Philippou, New York State Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, New York City Council member Costas Constantinides, and businessman John Catsimatides with his wife, Margo.
Work will soon begin on HANAC’s two new buildings which will include affordable housing. The first will be built in Corona with 68 units for the elderly. The new HANAC Corona Senior Residence at 54-17 101st Street groundbreaking ceremony took place on October 25.
The second building will be built in Flushing, with 207 units for families and seniors. The groundbreaking will take place in January.
When asked about the challenges facing HANAC and its work, the Director of Social Services Nikos Nikolaidis said, “Every year there are difficulties with financing, but HANAC is always there.” Thanks to the effectiveness of HANAC’s social programs and the efforts of Evangeline Douris, the organization is able to maintain its state funding as a supplement to the generous support of its funders.