Ronald McDonald House New York Greek Division Hosts Special Event

September 28, 2023

NEW YORK – The Ronald McDonald House New York (RMH-NY) Greek Division hosted a special event on September 26. Titled ‘A Toast to the Greatest of Causes’, the event was the first hosted at the RMH-NY since the pandemic and highlighted the impressive efforts to support children and families fighting serious illnesses.

Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce Executive Board Chairman and longtime supporter of the Greek Division Markos Lambros Drakotos said: “Our beloved Ronald McDonald House has not hosted an event since the COVID lockdowns. ‘A Toast to the Greatest of Causes,’ is the first public event to bring people back into the House to help raise awareness. It is a wine event with a twist. We surveyed the children at the House for their most favorite dishes, their choices won’t surprise you; chicken fingers, macaroni and cheese, pizza, mini burgers, popcorn, and brownies made the top of the list. Although, I was disappointed pigs in a blanket didn’t make the cut. The idea was then to pair the children’s top choices with wine and champagne.”

Drakotos noted that the food was all “through the generosity of Eli Zabar and Eli’s Table” and “sommeliers Kilian Robin and Thibaut Dubreuil masterly chose the wine pairings.”

As part of the evening’s program, attendees also had the opportunity to tour the House to “see firsthand the incredible work of the countless workers and volunteers,” Drakotos noted, adding that “every person’s visit to the House touches them in their own way. For me, there is nothing more moving or hopeful in life.”

The Ronald McDonald House New York (RMH-NY) Greek Division hosted a special event on September 26. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

RMH-NY Greek Division Chairman Spiros Maliagros gave the welcoming remarks at the event thanking all those present for their support, noting that the Greek Division was founded over 40 years ago by Niki Sideris and its mission is to help children and their families battle pediatric cancer. He thanked the volunteers and especially Greek Division Coordinator and Administrator Spiridoula Katechis for all her efforts and RMH-NY President and CEO Dr. Ruth C. Browne.

In her remarks, Dr. Browne congratulated the organizers for their efforts and noted that “this is our first Greek Division wine tasting event, on behalf of the Board of Directors and the entire team at Ronald McDonald House, we welcome you… and we appreciate all you do for this House.”

“I am thrilled to tell you that we have incredible programmatic growth that we can boast about in 2023, after being closed to visitors, after being shut down in so many ways from the pandemic, our programmatic growth in 2023 is really tied to a much more diverse population than we’ve ever seen in the past,” Dr. Browne said. “We’ve begun to serve more low income and Medicaid patients through our safety net hospital partners and we’re really proud of that expansion of the mission, this is going to continue to be an important foundation of our overall expansion efforts grounded in a commitment to health equity and its going to require a different level of preparation to inform and measure progress and our next steps as we look to also serve patients through a non-housing model. We know that many families face immense issues related to the social drivers of health and so we’re strengthening our own capacity to ensure that we have the right partnerships in place in 2024 and beyond.”

Left to right: Nancy Papaioannou, Alexandra Mitsakis, and Mary Vaxevanidou. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

Dr. Browne then shared an update on family rooms coming soon to New York area hospitals and health care centers, and the changes at the House itself including the relocation of the playroom to the lower level. She also praised the Greek Division, noting that “the Greek Division is a pillar in this House from the very beginning when we opened our doors and your heartfelt dedication to this House has immeasurable impact, you have helped thousands of children and families and many of you have been a part of the House from the beginning.”

“Some of you may be new committee members or meal donors, or following in the footsteps of parents and grandparents, no matter how you’ve been involved, I want you to know that we are very grateful for your support,” Dr. Brown said. “Our children, as you know, are battling the most aggressive forms of illness, whether it be cancer or other serious childhood illness, and the generosity of the Greek Division is priceless. This House would not be what it is without your support.”

She then thanked Maliagros for his leadership, Drakotos for making the wine tasting event a success, and the tireless Katechis for all her efforts, and also thanked the Greek committee members, sponsors, and volunteers.

Maliagros concluded by inviting everyone to attend the Greek Division’s 28th Annual Christmas Dinner on December 12 at the New York Athletic Club. More information is available online: https://shorturl.at/aDSX4.

Also at the event, original artwork, titled 7 Wishes, was on display, a first-time collaboration between Greek Division Vice Chair Vasiliki Rentas-Sakkas and Theodora Miller, a Greek-American artist from Richmond, VA. The artwork, featuring the Greek words for health, hope, luck, love, happiness, joy, and peace, was generously donated as an auction item to raise funds for the children and families staying at the House. Limited edition prints of the artwork were available for purchase at the event with all the proceeds to benefit the families of RMH-NY.

Throughout the evening, the Claremont String Quartet performed beautifully.


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