EASTCHESTER, NY – The 4th Annual Loukoumi Dance Party and Make A Difference Awards took place on June 15 at Mulino’s at Lake Isle Country Club, 600 White Plains Road in Eastchester. The Very Rev. Fr. Nicholas Anctil, presiding priest of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in New Rochelle, NY was honored with the Loukoumi Foundation Inspiration Award at the well-attended event.
Loukoumi Make A Difference Awards were presented to:
Anne Hutchinson School Student Council; George’s Angels (Eileen and Gary Franklin); The Greek American Institute; The Greenvale School; The Smile of A Child Project (presented to the Colombos, Pappas, and Tsiamtsiouris families); St. Stephen/St. Edward School in Orange County; St. Clare School on Staten Island; and
Katia Barker, Karl Kilb, Austin Lawless, Elaina Poulos, Daniel Rentel, and Will Tinson.
The winner of the Dream Day Contest, George Rebokos, was also announced live at the event. The contest gives kids the opportunity to spend a day in their dream day careers.
Loukoumi Foundation President Nick Katsoris gave the welcoming remarks at the event, noting that it was 13 years ago that the first Loukoumi book was published, and that the national effort in which children drew cards and sold them for $1 has raised $25,000 so far for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The plan is to raise $150,000 for a Loukoumi reading room/literacy room at the hospital for the children undergoing treatment. Katsoris thanked all the schools that participated and added that the Loukoumi Foundation will be the featured charity on September 9 at Citi Field when the Mets take on the Phillies. In partnership with the New York Catholic Archdiocese, Katsoris pointed out that the Loukoumi books are now in over 150 schools of the New York Archdiocese. He told The National Herald there are plans to expand the foundation’s efforts nationally and bring the Loukoumi books to Greek Sunday schools across the country as well.
For the tenth anniversary of the Dream Day Contest, a video presentation highlighted the winners from year’s past and how the experience has affected their lives. The video entries by some of the finalists in the contest were also screened at the event before the announcement of this year’s winner, who had entered the contest five years in a row, each time with a different career he would like to pursue. Katsoris told the winner, Rebokos, that “we’ll have to discuss” which career he will ultimately choose for his Dream Day.
Katsoris presented the Inspiration Award to Fr. Anctil, noting that “there are people you meet who can inspire you forever, and that’s Fr. Nick.” He met Fr. Nick over 30 years ago and he “presided over some of the best moments of my life,” Katsoris’ wedding to his wife Voula, and the baptisms of their children, and when they served as godparents. At an event years ago, when the priest scheduled to perform the invocation couldn’t make it, Fr. Anctil stepped in at the last minute without hesitation. “Fr. Nick and his wife, Presvytera Cyndi, have always been like family,” Katsoris said, adding that “through a twist of fate, we learned 4 years ago that we actually are family, as I am the third cousin of his daughter Kelly’s father-in-law.”
“This foundation is all about teaching kids to do the right thing, to make a difference in the lives of others, believe in yourself and follow your dreams, and to treat others with kindness and respect,” Katsoris said, noting that “the inspiration that propels these kids to new heights has to come from somewhere, from role models and there is no better role model than Fr. Nick.”
The Loukoumi series of children’s books by Nick Katsoris inspires kids to do good deeds. Photo by Eleni Sakellis
In his acceptance speech, Fr. Anctil thanked Katsoris and the foundation, and addressed the many children present, joking that he knew Thomas Edison, referring to the quote about inspiration, “Success is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration, in my case it’s different, success is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration,” adding that when you do good deeds you do them for everyone.
Among those at the event were actress Elena Kampouris- best known for her role as Paris in My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, who presented some of the awards, Chef Maria Loi, and Yahoo Finance correspondent Alexis Christoforous.
The Loukoumi Make A Difference Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit organization formed with the consent of the New York State Department of Education to teach children to make a difference in their lives and the lives of others. Loukoumi, a fluffy little lamb, is the main character from the Loukoumi book series that wants to make the world a better place. The Loukoumi Make A Difference Foundation seeks to teach children to follow Loukoumi’s lead and to make a positive difference. More information on the Foundation is available online: www.LoukoumiFoundation.org.
The Make A Difference Day with Loukoumi Program is the recipient of Tegna’s 2017 Make A Difference Day All-Star Award and recently the Loukoumi Foundation received the Point of Light Award.