By Michalis Kakias
NEW JERSEY – The Hellenic Federation of New Jersey held its 7th Annual Awards Banquet on June 17. The honorees at the event were Tony Papamarkos- businessman, Paul Kalamaras- Executive Vice President and Chief Retail Banking Officer of Investors Bank, and New Jersey Congressman Chris Smith. The event took place at The Graycliff in Moonachie.
Papamarkos received the Alexander the Great Community Service Award, Kalamaras the Alexander the Great Achievement Award, and Smith the Alexander the Great Public Service Award.
In his remarks, Savas Tsivicos, President of the Hellenic Federation of New Jersey, congratulated the winners, thanked everyone who attended the celebration, and announced the donation of $10,000 in scholarships to Greek-American students.
“Tony Papamarkos,” he said, “is a leader of the Greek-American community and a philanthropist. He is a great family man and a wonderful father who is an example to be imitated. Paul Kalamaras is a successful businessman with a high position in one of the country's most successful banks, Investors Bank.
“Despite his success he never forgot his roots and origins. He is a model for our youth. Chris Smith is an honest politician who fights for human rights and religious freedom. He has strongly criticized Turkey for the catastrophes it has caused in Cypriot culture and religious heritage.”
The honorees at the awards ceremony thanked the New Jersey Federation for the great honor and all those in attendance for honoring them with their presence.
The Consul General of Greece in New York Konstantinos Koutras congratulated the honorees and thanked them for their great contribution to Hellenism in America.
“I congratulate you,” he said, “particularly for your uninterrupted and constructive presence in the life of the community, and for your valuable contribution to maintaining close ties with the motherland through your social, charity, educational, and cultural work.”
George Siamboulis, President of Pan Gregorian, said that the Federation should be “supported and maintained for the sake of the Greek-American community.” “All of us,” he said, “have a sacred duty and responsibility to help the work of the Federation as much as we can.”
His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, in a written statement, congratulated the winners and sent his blessings for the success of the celebration.
His Eminence Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey in his message stated, “I congratulate and thank Tony Papamarkos, Paul Kalamaras, Chris Smith, and all the members of the Federation of Hellenic Societies for their efforts to preserve the Greek identity and promote the principles and values that distinguish us as Greek Orthodox Christians.”
Stavros Antonakakis served as the presenter of the event.
Tony Papamarkos’ story is a classic immigrant success story. Born in Athens, he came to America with his father and began working in the restaurant business alongside his father while getting an education. He became a successful diner owner and then purchased The Graycliff where countless events, including the Awards Banquet, have been held. A dedicated philanthropist, churchman, and member of AHEPA, Papamarkos was named Man of the Year 2016 by The National Herald.
Besides being Executive Vice President and Chief Retail Banking Officer at Investors Bank, Paul Kalamaras is on the Board of Directors of the New Jersey State
Chamber of Commerce, Big Brothers and Big Sisters State Association of New Jersey,
the North Jersey American Red Cross, and the Board of Trustees of NJ SEEDS, an
organization dedicated to changing lives through improved access to education.
According to the independent watchdog organization Govtrack, as of October 2016,
US Rep. Chris Smith (R-Hamilton, NJ) ranks second among all 435 Members of the House over the last two decades in the number of laws authored. According to the official Congress.gov website, Rep. Smith has authored 42 laws.