ASTORIA – The love of Greece and concern for its neediest recently drew Greek-Americans to the Stathakeion Cultural Center for the 3rdanniversary sing-along taverna night of the Hellenic Relief Foundation (HRF). The net proceeds will be used to purchase food for the disadvantaged of Greece.
Stelios Taketzis, a member of HRF’s Board of Directors, welcomed the guests and introduced a video that described the goals and work of the organization that is focused on the health and nutrition needs of Greeks hit hardest by the crisis.
“Your generosity helps every month,” he said, adding that HRF’s mission is also focused on “preserving dignity in crisis,” and he noted that by making purchases in Greece, HRF stimulates the local economy.
The tables were set with delicious mezedes prepared and served by board members, including chef Prokopis Zervos and Dinos Avlonitis and his family. Guest also enjoyed desserts prepared by pastry chef Alexandra Taketzis.
The evening’s music director, guitarist/vocalist Tasos Papaioannou, prepared a program of traditional songs and invited the guests to sing and clap along with him and Eleni Andreou and soprano Alexandra Skendrou. They were accompanied by Glafkos Kontemeniotis on keyboards and Kostas Psaros on bouzouki.
The night’s early songs like Omorfi Athena, sung by Skendrou, spurred reminiscences of old Athens and Papaioannou sang waltzes that prompted some guests to dance. Andreou, a mezzo-soprano, warmed hearts with love songs, beginning with “As Erxosouna Gia Ligo- Come for a Little White – by Michalis Souyioul. Skendrou also delighted with musical and comedic excerpts from Greek musical theater.
The evening had a Carnival flavor as guests seated at round tables blew horns, tossed streamers and candy and then filled the dance floor. Papaioannou led the guests in singing traditional songs like To Gelekaki, Aspres Kordeles, Barba Gianni me tis Stamnes, Gialo Gialo and To Kokoraki – the rooster, the Greek hybrid of Old McDonald’s and the 12 Days of Christmas.
Board Member Philip Vogiatzoglou presented a certificate of appreciation to Anthony Zachariades and Nikos Anastathakis, who raised $5000 for HRF as participants in the 2014 New York City Marathon.
Taketzis thanked all who assist and contribute to HRF, including donors and the event’s sponsors, Investors Bank, the Hellenic American Bankers Association (HABA), the Geros Tou Morea Chapter of the Pan-Arcadian Federation of America and the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York, which donated the venue and was represented at the event by its president, Petros Galatoulas and Vasilios Gournelos, chairman of the parade committee.
Among the organizers Taketzis singled out was Anna Iliopoulou.
Lambrini Haralambopoulos, enjoyed the event and said she is looking forward to participating in HRF’s work. She appreciates the opportunities America provided immigrants for a good life and feels it is important to give back to the community and to help Greece during its time of need.
As a private banker with JP Morgan Chase, she is working on a project for the bank to help the people of Greece.
Her daughter Spiridoula values her Greek heritage and is committed to showing solidarity for and assisting members of her generation in Greece who are currently struggling.
Katerina Melitsopoulou, a speech pathologist who run runs her own company, was invited by friends to her first HRF event. She loves the old songs and appreciated the opportunity to help Greece.