Left to right: His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, Cyprus Children’s Fund National Chairman and President Nicos Zittis, Philoptochos President Stephanie Pantelidis, event co-chairs Dr. Miranda Kofinas and Antonia Rigopoulos Argyrides, and Fr. Chrysostomos Gilbert. (Photo by Eleni Sakellis)
NEW YORK – The Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity Philoptochos Society hosted the 68th Annual Chrysanthemum Ball honoring the Cyprus Children’s Fund (CCF) on November 18 at the Metropolitan Club in Manhattan.
A portion of the proceeds of the Ball also benefit the CCF, an organization which has supported thousands of refugee and underprivileged children and which provides needed assistance and support to children and young adults with special needs, as well as college students.
His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America gave the invocation after he was introduced by Dean of the Archdiocesan Cathedral Fr. Chrysostomos Gilbert. Archdiocesan Cathedral Philoptochos President Stephanie Pantelidis gave the welcoming remarks, noting that the Chrysanthemum Ball is the organization’s major fundraiser each year and “your dedication and generosity throughout the years has enabled us to fulfill our commitments and achieve our goals.”
“This evening we have the great honor of recognizing the Cyprus Children’s Fund,” she continued. “They have supported thousands of underprivileged children and organizations in Cyprus which provide critical services to children and young adults with special needs.”
Pantelidis then thanked the event co-chairs Antonia Rigopoulos Argyrides and Dr. Miranda Kofinas as well as all the women of the Philoptochos who made the Ball a success. “On behalf of our entire Philoptochos Society, we thank you again for joining us this evening and for your ongoing support, thank you,” she concluded.
Dr. Miranda Kofinas then shared her greetings and welcomed the Cypriot friends and supporters in attendance, including the CCF’s National Chairman and President Nicos Zittis. She noted that “each year our chapter with over 200 members supports a number of charities,” including the National Philoptochos initiative which has raised over $4 million for children’s hospitals, research, and medical expenses throughout the United States. Dr. Kofinas also mentioned the Philoptochos’ efforts for the children of St. Basil Academy such as supplying them with school uniforms, books, school supplies and necessities, as well as taking the children to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular at Christmas-time.
Event co-chair Antonia Rigopoulos Argyrides then spoke about the CCF, noting that it was founded in 1975 to help the children who became refugees as a result of the illegal invasion and occupation of Cyprus in 1974. She highlighted CCF’s programs for children and young people, including the scholarship program that has helped many attend prestigious colleges and universities. Rigopoulos Argyrides then introduced CCF’s National Chairman and President Nicos Zittis who said “we are extremely honored to receive this award, it’s extremely humbling, and we receive it with humility. It’s a validation of the great work of our organization.”
He spoke about the founding of the organization in 1975: “The hope, back then, was to assist refugee children who had pretty much lost everything, a handful of Greek-Cypriots in the tri-state area got together, put the organization together, and started soliciting sponsors to send money to children in Cyprus.”
“Then our scope expanded and for 47 years we have been providing support for all underprivileged children in Cyprus, and we have supported thousands of children sending millions of dollars to them,” Zittis continued. “Additionally, just a few years after the founding of our organization, we started the scholarship program which provides scholarships to students of Hellenic descent who study at universities and colleges in the United States high achievers… attending some of the best institutions in the country.”
He then pointed out that one of the scholarship recipients was in attendance, Fr. Elias Pappas, who attended Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology.
“More recently, we also started a grant program where we support nonprofit organizations which provide services to children with special needs… and we enabled the first Ronald McDonald House to open in Nicosia this year,” Zittis said.
He also noted the presence of members of the CCF board including First Vice President Andrew Zachariades, Andreas Comodromos, and Charles Anastasiou, who he pointed out, joined the board in 1983. Zittis concluded his remarks by dedicating the award to “those who came before us, the founders of CCF and those who served on the board before us, it is for them that we are here” and with a quote from the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi: “For it is in giving that we receive.”
Archbishop Elpidophoros in his remarks congratulated the Philoptochos for the celebration and their ongoing charitable efforts. He also noted that the CCF is most worthy of the honor for their consistent advocacy and their assistance to those most in need in Cyprus since the invasion and illegal occupation to this day. His Eminence acknowledged the new Dean of the Cathedral, Fr. Chrysostomos Gilbert, and then led a moment of silence in honor of Archbishop Chrysostomos II of Cyprus who passed away on November 7, may his memory be eternal.
Consul General of Greece in New York Konstantinos Konstantinou attended with his wife Myrsine and in his remarks noted that it was his first Chrysanthemum Ball. He congratulated the Philoptochos for its efforts and wished that they continue their charitable works for many years to come. Konstantinou also congratulated the CCF pointing out that its efforts are not only a philanthropic service but a patriotic duty and service to all Hellenism, adding that “we will stand shoulder to shoulder with the Republic of Cyprus against the Turkish illegal activities in Cyprus and, of course, for the resolution of the Cyprus issue.”
A $10,000 donation was then presented to the CCF from the Philoptochos Society and the evening continued with dinner and dancing to live music by Power Station.
The Young Professionals Buffet with open bar and dancing also took place on the second floor of the Metropolitan Club.
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