NEW YORK – The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) has made a large donation of $15 million to St. Michael’s Retirement Home, for the completion of the new building complex in Uniondale, NY. The driving force of this donation is Andreas Dracopoulos, SNF Co-President, as noted by Stelios Vassilakis, SNF Director of Programs & Strategic Initiatives, in an interview with The National Herald. He said that “the implementation of the donation is a vision and initiative of Andreas Dracopoulos.”
Dracopoulos promoted the $15 million donation for St. Michael’s, out of respect and love for his fellow man but also because of the exemplary operation of the Retirement Home so far, despite the negative experience that the Foundation had with the refusal of the $25 million donation to the St. Demetrios School of Astoria by the then-Dean of St. Demetrios Cathedral and current Chancellor of the Archdiocese, Archimandrite Nektarios Papazafiropoulos.
Dracopoulos told TNH that “after the disappointment for the sabotage of $25 million that we would have given to St. Demetrios and which would be for the benefit of the Greek Community alone, St. Demetrios lost the opportunity to become a great institution for education.”
Dracopoulos noted that “our love for Hellenism and the Greek community in all parts of the world is great and cannot be spoiled by any individual from wherever he comes from. Therefore, the opportunity arose for the Retirement Home of St. Michael, which we knew about because it was among our first donations more than 20 years ago. I have to praise the work of Bishop Andonios of Phasiane because it is due to his own passion and effort and we have to acknowledge him that thanks to him St. Michael is always doing very well.”
Dracopoulos also said that “as we help children, we also help the elderly, these are the weak areas of our humanity, when you are born and when you grow up you need help and support. So it is something that touches us and especially when we see that those who promote it have the passion, maturity and organization to do it right and we must praise the contribution of Bishop Andonios, the mission of St. Michael.”
He added “and so this combination of the need, the mission and the effort of Bishop Andonios brought this result. I also want to praise Haeda Mihaltses [St. Michael’s Board of Trustees President] who together with Bishop Andonios and the other collaborators and with a great deal of stubbornness, passion, dedication, and time have supported this work. So all this helped us, despite the damage done to St. Demetrios, and I say damage in terms of our confidence to work again with the Greek community, with great joy and a lot of effort on both sides we are at a point where we are looking to get the job done right and we are very happy that the necessary documents have been signed and we are moving forward with the donation of $15 million, which we believe is crucial for the project to move forward and finish. Here I must also praise the effort of Mr. Stathis Valiotis who from the beginning has supported the project with a large amount of $10 million, and we came with $15 million.
“Again, we look forward to a project that will be completed on time, based on the budget although we all know with inflation there are difficulties, but we believe that Bishop Andonios and the whole team will remain committed to finish the project which has a common recipient, man. We will all grow old, so those who have nowhere else to go will be able to go to a home of quality, dignity, and humanity.”
Stelios Vassilakis told TNH: “It’s a very important donation of $15 million. The Foundation becomes essentially the largest donor, there are other large donations. In essence, the Foundation helps the organization to progress significantly, I would say, in the final stretch of the completion of the construction of the project in the new space in Uniondale.”
Vasilakis also said that “as you know this nursing home has a long and very important presence in the Greek-American community, plays a very serious role, and offers very important services and, in fact, the time had come after an exemplary operation of many years to upgrade. The needs are great, these organizations are being upgraded. It is a place that has received special attention and will be given even more in the coming years, as from what you know, Mr. Kalmoukos, the number of people who enter these ages and will need such organizations is growing, not small essentially, we are entering a phase in which the organizations will play a very important role and at the same time it was necessary to upgrade the organization and to give it the opportunity to move to the next phase in order to be able to offer much more specific and much more basic services.”
Vasilakis also pointed out that “what should be recognized here is that it has really worked exemplary all these years. The role of Bishop Andonios of Phasiane was very important in the upgrading of the organization to a very high level and it should also be taken into account that it functioned in an exemplary way during the pandemic. Nursing homes faced many and I would say very dark problems during the pandemic as you know.”
He noted that the Stavros Niarchos Foundation “recognizes the needs of the Greek-American community both for young people and for people of all ages, and I believe it has a long tradition of contributing to these areas. We believe that St. Michael’s Retirement Home plays a very important role in the Greek-American community.”