Friends and supporters of The Hellenic Initiative (THI) anticipate this year’s fundraiser gala – the 9th for THI – to be streamed live and held in person on Saturday, December 4 in New York. With the theme ‘Moving Forward Together,’ the event will highlight stories of Greek resilience in the face of adversity and raise funds to support pandemic crisis relief and help foster Greek economic recovery opportunities following recent fiscal challenges.
Since its founding in 2012, The Hellenic Initiative has committed or distributed $6 million in direct crisis relief, and $10.7 million in economic and entrepreneurial development in Greece. With THI’s 2021 New York gala just weeks away, Executive Director Peter Poulos speaks to The National Herald about the organization’s accomplishments and the upcoming event.
Following a virtual-only gala in 2020, THI expects a great turnout at this year’s New York gala. “We’re social beings, and because we are Greek, we are even more social,” Poulos said. “We’re used to being together and holding hands when we dance…we enjoy each other’s company… so it’s wonderful that we can all be together again in person to support a good cause.”
Honored this year is Johnson & Johnson Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer Alex Gorsky, who is expected to attend the New York event. Gorsky, who is one of just seven leaders who have served in the dual role since the company was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1944, has been instrumental in developing a relationship between Johnson & Johnson and THI.
“As it turns out, Alex Gorsky is not Greek, but he speaks modern Greek…” Poulos said. “He’s a real philhellene.”
Johnson & Johnson has been an essential hiring partner for THI’s successful ReGeneration program since its launch in 2014. The program trains, mentors, and places highly qualified millennials in full time jobs at top Greek and multinational companies, and has secured over 1600 youth job placements, unlocking more than €11.5 million in salaries.
“ReGeneration is working to reverse brain drain into brain gain,” Poulos said. Recognized as the top job placement program in Greece, more than 80 percent of participants secure a contract extension or hire through ReGeneration.
Another program THI supports is Venture Garden. “Venture Garden helps promising companies find financing and learn how to scale,” Poulos said. “These are tremendous success stories everyone is going to hear about at the gala.”
Founded by the Helidoni Foundation and the Charles C. Condes Trust, which donated $500,000 to THI, the Venture Impact Award (VIA) was founded in 2020 with a vision to support scalable ventures able to demonstrate not just a quick return on the investment, but also a broader impact on the society at large.
THI gala guests will learn about these and more programs highlighting and supporting the efforts of the young and talented people of Greece in the midst of an ongoing crisis, and the pandemic. And while celebrating achievements is a major part of this event, the gala would not be complete without amazing entertainment.
Emcee this year will be esteemed recording artist Sakis Rouvas, while additional special guests are expected to join. “Sakis Rouvas is such a gentleman and a complete pleasure to work with,” Poulos said.
With COVID is still present, Poulos said THI has taken measures to ensure everyone’s safety. Guests in fact, will have to show proof of full vaccination, or recovery from coronavirus, and photo identification to enter the capped attendee event.
In addition, THI is offering an online auction to help raise funds. As in prior years, Greek artists, food and wine purveyors, luxury destinations, and fashion and jewelry designers from around the world have come together to donate items.
The online auction opens on Saturday, November 20 at 12 PM EST and runs until Saturday, December 4 at 11 PM EST. Visit the auction website for the full list.
THI’s annual London gala, which took place on September 30 at the renowned Dorchester Hotel, raised over $270,000 for charities that benefit and protect children in Greece, raising funds for ELEPAP, a Greek organization supporting the rehabilitation for disabled children, and the ELIZA Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
Tickets to the New York THI gala may be found at: https://www.eventora.com/en/Events/2021-this-new-york-gala
The Hellenic Initiative was founded in 2012 by members of the global Greek and philhellene communities who were compelled to respond to the worsening economic crisis and inspired to help shape Greece’s long-term recovery.