MOONACHIE, NJ – Most of the people who filled the ballroom of the Graycliffe Manor on January 18 have made substantial contributions to the community, so they completely appreciated the time, effort and sacrifice that was required for Tassos Efstratiades to help launch the Hellenic Federation of New Jersey as its first president.
The guests braved a harsh winter day to attend the Federation’s Fifth Annual Award Banquet in order to register their gratitude and admiration for the man to whom the Federation bestowed its “Alexander the Great” Achievement Award.
Efstratiades, a corporate lawyer based in Philadelphia who was born in Greece to Asia Minor refugees, was introduced by his proud children, Eleni and Pantelis.
He expressed gratitude for being chosen for the award, and called it a humbling experience given the caliber of the people who had previously received it and the fact that “we only achieve great things through the work of many people.”
He proceeded to acknowledge the executive committees and members who served with him during his four years as president and declared “I accept the award only as your elected representative.”
Efstratiades praised Andreas Comodromos, the event chairman whom he called his mentor, and Metropolitan Evangelos “for supporting the Federation and being the catalyst for creating it.”
“Last but not least,” Efstratiades said, “I would like to thank my family, my children who supported me, but above all my wife, Maria, who went through health [trials] but she stood by me and supported my serving a second term. Without her I would not have been able to do what I did – that’s what love is.”
Savas Tsivikos, the Federation’s current president said the Federation voted unanimously to honor Efstratiades for his contribution to the Federation’s mission of promoting and preserving the Hellenic Culture and heritage and the Orthodox Church, and for helping to unite the Greek-American Community of New Jersey.
Metropolitan Evangelos said the Federation made a “most worthy selection” in choosing Efstratiades, and was one of the many speakers who said the honoree’s greatest and noblest achievement was his outreach to young adults and the incorporation of the Greek clubs of local colleges into the Federation.
The night began with greetings by Comodromos, who declared, “Tassos, we are here this evening because you deserved it, and you deserved it because you earned it.”
Comodromos also praised the organizing committee and the event coordinator, Despina Axiotakis and noted distinguished guests, including Amb. George Iliopoulos and Amb. Vasilios Philippou, the consuls general or Greece and Cyprus respectively, both of who offered remarks.
Pantelis Efstratiades, the son of the honoree, served as the Emcee and read a message from Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
Former New Jersey Governor James Florio and Congressman Frank Pallone were among the speakers and the latter read from congratulatory remarks he had entered into the Congressional Record.
Comodromos thanked the sponsors and the grand benefactors, Investors Bank, represented by Chris Koutsis and the Pan Gregorian Enterprises, represented by its president, George Siamboulis. Prayers were requested for the health of John Sakelaris, the chairman of the Board of Pan Gregorian Enterprises.
Comodromos invited Metropolitan Evangelos to give the invocation and Ellpetha Tsivikos to sing the national anthems.
Nitsa Manola was invited to sell her Greek novel, Ιsova Desma – Life Imprisonment – the proceeds of which were donated to the Federation’s Heritage Committee.
Stathis Theodoropoulos, the new president of the Cypriot Young Professionals of the U.S.-Cyprus Chamber of Commerce, is one of the young adults Efstratiades recruited. He was president of the Hellenic Culture Association of the Greek Club of Rutgers. After I graduated, we worked together to help young professionals and that’s when I saw his commitment to helping one another and the community in any way possible.”
Petros Galatoulas, president, and Vasilios Gournelos of the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York, congratulated Efstratiades and invited everyone to participate in the Greek Parade on Fifth Avenue which he expects to be a sea of blue and white flags on March 29.
“The two Federations have had a great relationship, first with Tassos and now with Savas Tsivikos,” Galatoulas told TNH. Events like this elevate the community…they show we know how to honor those who make contributions and are unifying forces.”
Efstratiates has been a member of Cherry Hill’s St. Thomas Church for 29 years. Its pastor, Fr. Emmanuel Pratsinakis told TNH “We are overjoyed to have him involved. He is always the voice of reason; very upright…we love him very much.”
George Pappas, treasurer of the Federation and vice chairman of the New Jersey Greek-American Chamber of Commerce knows Efstratiades from St. Thomas and brought congratulations from Philadelphia as president of the Hellenic University Club.
Eustathios Karadonis, president of The Federation of Hellenic-American Societies of Philadelphia and the Greater Delaware Valley, invited the guests to the Philadelphia Greek Parade on March 22.