LOS ANGELES, CA – To celebrate Greek Independence this year, The Santa Barbara-Patras Sister Cities Group organized a fundraiser to benefit the Karamandaneio Children Hospital in Patras, Greece. The hospital provides medical and mental health to children and teens and was created by iconic philanthropist Ioannis Karamandanis, who lost his only son at age 15. His father Ioannis decided to establish a foundation to honor his son and deeded his home to the municipality of Patras with the condition that the house will operate as a hospital, and it did until 1988.
The selection of the hospital was followed by a visit last September of a 15-member delegation from the Santa Barbara Sister Cities committee to Patras. Leading the delegation was President Georgia Gastouniotis and President of Southern California Sister Cities Region Gil Garcia. Also in the delegation was Panayiotis Mitroulias, an officer with the Greek Air Force, who came to Santa Barbara in 2010 to participate in a training program and during his 2.5 years that he resided in the region he met the local Greek community and realized its desire to establish a Sister City program with Patras. While in Patras, the delegation realized that the Patras Sister City Group chapter was not well-organized but received assurances that they would be picking up the organizational pace shortly.
The well-attended event took place at the Santa Barbara Winery, located at the trendy Funk Zone district of the city. This area of warehouses and industrial buildings was relatively inexpensive compared to the very expensive surrounding areas and as a result drew artists and creative entrepreneurs who started converting the area into a modern district with boutique wineries, cafes, surfboard shapers and up-and-coming chefs who now call the Funk Zone their home.
The fundraiser was attended by Santa Barbara Mayor Cathy Murillo, who told TNH that “as the city’s new Mayor I intend to form a strong relationship with the esteem members of the Sister City Group and in particular with President Gastouniotis. I was pleased to celebrate Greek Independence Day with the local Greek community and raise a toast to cultural pride and patriotism with the people of Patras and all of Greece.” The Santa Barbara-Patras Sister Cities group was accepted by the Santa Barbara Cities Board and has been in existence since 2010 and became a nonprofit in January, 2015. Donations for the Karamandaneio Children’s Hospital of Patra are welcome anytime and you can access information online by visiting the Santa Barbara-Patras Sister Cities Group website.