All Generations Accomplishing Philanthropic Endeavors

On Sunday, October 21st, 2018 the Metropolis of Boston Philoptochos held an AGAPE Tea honoring 9 wonderful women for their contributions to their communities. The event was held at St. Spyridon’s Cathedral in Worcester, MA.

AGAPE stands for All Generations Accomplishing Philanthropic Endeavors and is an honor given to one woman from each Metropolis at the Philoptochos National Convention. This year the Metropolis of Boston had NINE nominees each equally impressive in her great work and her embodiment of what it truly means to be a Philoptochos woman. 

Many of the nomination letters for these women show their leading by example by getting their hands dirty in the kitchen, visiting those who can’t venture out, feeding the homeless, and reaching out to assist visitors to a new country – just to name a few. A very important note mentioned about each of these women is their willingness to patiently teach the next generation of Philoptochos women and show the true meaning of our mission to ensure a bright future for the organization. 

Agape Tea Award Recipients
Back Row L-R: Elaine Zetes (Metropolis Board President), Jody Athanasiou (Worcester Board President), Marianna Koulisis, Debra Ceijek, Bessie Condakes, Presvytera Anthe Athas, Fr. Ted Barbas.
Front Row L-R: Rhoda Economos, Bess Jack, Bessie Papigiotis, Cleo Tsolas, Venetia Mitropoulos

Our Honorees are listed here with only a part of  their nomination letter. You can read the full nominations and view our Program Book here. Visit our Metropolis of Boston Philoptochos Facebook page for an album of the event!

Presvytera Anthe Athas
Dormition of the Theotokos Church, Burlington, Vermont

Presvytera Anthe Athas has been a member of our Philoptochos chapter for 19 years. Her dedication to Philanthropy and to the goals of the Philoptochos have been a shiny example to all the women of our chapter. 

Presvytera Anthe has generously given of her time, talents, and organizational and leadership skills chairing most of the fund-raising events of our chapter. She works very hard and with an exemplary compassion for the poor and under privileged despite some of her own physical problems. 

Her demonstration of faith and her involvement in social work have positively affected the ones who got to know her. Presvytera’s example of taking care of the elderly, the ones without family, and the new immigrants, old and young, demonstrates her com- mitment to "All Generation Accomplishing Philanthropic Endeavors" 

Debra Ciejek
Saint George Cathedral, Springfield, Massachusetts

Debbie, a 30 year member of our chapter, was elected President in 2013, 2015, and 2017. She is the embodiment of a true Christian Leader in our Philoptochos as well as in our parish. Her mission above all else is to serve God, to serve our church, and to serve those in need. Her devotion and energy knows no bounds. Her style as President of our Chapter has been to lead from the front, roll up her sleeves, and get everyone involved. 

During her first several years as chapter President, she partnered with the Friends of the Homeless shelter, and spearheaded a monthly project to benefit them for over two years. She collected and delivered boxes of toiletries, clothing, books and much more for the shelter. And as past co-director of our St. George Sunday School, she coordinated these monthly drives during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Pascha with our Sun- day School children and families for additional giving impact to those in need. 

Debbie is currently coordinating another effort for the Springfield Gray House - parish -wide-to provide food, toiletries, winter coats, summer camp supplies and other essentials for the local underprivileged children and families that participate in their pro- grams. She calls her efforts "Fill up the House". 

Vasiliki “Bessie” Condakes
Saint Demetrios Church, Weston, Massachusetts

Vasiliki, also best known as "Bessie” Condakes, has been a member of the St. Christine Chapter over forty years. She has inspired our Chapter members by her beautiful virtues of simplicity, humility, generosity, kindness, peaceful, and quiet graceful ways; she embodies the word "agape”. 

Bessie has been a role model for our younger and older women alike. She has given of her time, talents, and treasures. Whether, it be to the senior citizens, to quietly donate jackets to our basketball players, or donate a basketball court and playground area to our metropolis camp in her late son’s name, Peter Condakes. For example, if she is paying her retreat fee, she always give extra noting it is for anyone who may need it; never asking who that might be. Often her gifts remain anonymous 

Bessie exemplifies what it means to be a Philoptochos member either by washing dishes, cooking koulourakia, making prosfora, helping with the fund raising events by both donating of her time, talent and her treasure. There is not a job which is too menial for her. This is not to mention that she ministers to the seniors by picking them up and bringing them to church services, taking them out and watching over them. 

Rhoda Economos
Annunciation Church, Brockton, Massachusetts

Rhoda Economos has been a member of our Philoptochos for over 57 years. She has been a member and a true inspiration to the ladies of Philoptochos, both young and old. Her compassion for those less fortunate and in need of help mirrors the late Mother Teresa. 

A passion near and dear to her heart is the Philoxenia House where she visits regularly and encourages others from our community to join her. Before the holidays she was able to inspire our fellow GOYANs to join her to bring food and presents to the families at the house. Last month, she came to our meeting asking for items that were needed for the home and because of her ongoing efforts we reached out to a large furniture retailer who is now making donations to the home on a quarterly basis.  

Bess Jack
Saint Nicholas Church, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Bess has been a Philoptochos member for a very long time serving as President for our chapter for 3 terms from 2004 – 2010, and remains a member today! 

Bess is the perfect role model of commitment and philanthropy and she continues to inspire by example and always seeks ways to help others in community and beyond. She is very effective, organized, and truly cares about the mission of Philoptochos. Her leadership style has inspired others to take leadership roles within our organization and never forgetting to express her gratitude, generosity, compassion, and love for her faith. 

Truly, if it was not for Bess, our organization may not be here today. Bess was willing to stay on as President during a time when others were not able to take on this responsibility, continuing this for 10 years. She was always motivated, never wavered from her commitment, and did so with such enthusiasm and love that she inspired others to serve ultimately allowing the Chapter to grow and thrive. 

Marianna Koulisis
Saint Spyridon Cathedral, Worcester, Massachusetts

Marianna Koulisis has been an active member of the Saint Spyridon Cathedral Philoptochos for over 30 years. A vibrant member at the age of 82, her mere presence at our membership meetings and events is inspiring. She serves on our Chapter Board and many years ago served as Board President. Rarely, if ever, does she miss a meeting. Marianna attends our events without fail and serves our Chapter and community with unwavering dedication and pride. She singularly takes reservations for our many events and assumes her rightful place at the registration table to check attendees into the myriad events we plan. In Marianna, Chapter members realize a role model. 

Marianna has been a longstanding member of the Cathedral and active in the many ministries and clubs. This level of activity, always with a smile and sense of humor means that she is well known and well respected. In essence, her reach into the community is deep. Often it is Marianna who is able to impart information to us relative to our community. We are able then to respond to a need quickly before a crisis. 

Bessie Papigiotis
Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, Cranston Rhode Island

Bessie has been a member in good standing of the Good Samaritan Chapter for 49 years holding many positions including presidency (1973 -1977, 1987-1991 and 2001- 2003), and has been an active member of the Boston Metropolis Board for over 25 years serving almost all Board office positions during 1995 through 1999. Bessie has proudly served on many Metropolis of Boston committees successfully chairing a variety of events. She conducted a workshop at a National Philoptochos Convention; co-chaired the Children's Medical Fund Lunch; and chaired the Philoptochos Hellenic College-Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology for several years. 

Bessie is described as the glue that holds the Chapter together, bridging the gap be- tween the seasoned members and novice members by encouraging them to work together and be open to fresh ideas. Her 'young at heart' attitude allows others to plan events geared towards younger members while keeping the focus in line with the phil- anthropic efforts. Bessie has been instrumental in planning many successful trips to New York City, Philoxenia House /Hellenic College and to our Metropolis Camp. Her passion for Philoptochos provided her Chapter with a look at the 'big picture' noting that every contribution, however small , can make a difference in their philanthropic work. She has encouraged involvement in projects such as making breakfast bags to feed the home- less; preparing annual Thanksgiving baskets for the needy; knitting 40-day blessing baby blankets and prayer shawls for the sick. 

Venetia Mitropoulos
Annunciation of the Virgin Mary Church, Woburn, Massachusetts

Venetia, from the very beginning, has been a very active member of the Ladies Philoptochos "Patris" Society of Woburn, MA. Venetia gladly took on any project or task that was asked of her and she always did it with Faith, Fellowship and Philanthropy. And even now after 55 years her Philoptochos sisters wonder how she does it. Venetia served as Philoptochos President, Recording Secretary and held a seat on the Executive Board. She has also been a Sunday School Teacher and Director. 

I n 1988, Venetia and her dear friend, the late Mary Barbas, were the first Philoptochos members to serve a meal at The Dwelling Place, the local soup kitchen, which is the longest outreach project our chapter has been involved with. Venetia just "retired" her position as the Philoptochos Fellowship Hostess. For over 30 years every Sunday Venetia would serve our Annunciation community coffee, pastries and small bites after Liturgy. Fellowship is a very special and popular ministry for every- one in our community. 

When Venetia realized a number of her Philoptochos sisters were not able to attend neither church nor the monthly Philoptochos meetings any more, she took on the role as Coordinator of visitations to these members to let them know they were not forgotten, especially during the holidays. This ministry has grown to include any member of our Annunciation Family as well as visiting those unable to attend church. As part of her duties as the "Sunshine Committee" Venetia makes sure Get Well, Thinking of You, or even Sympathy cards are sent to anyone in the parish. 

Cleopatra Tsolas
Holy Apostles Church, Haverhill, Massachusetts

Cleopatra Tsolas immigrated to the US in 1946, bringing her love of the Orthodox faith and pride in her Hellenic roots. Cleo immediately involved herself in church life. She became an active member in the women’s organization, Elpis, which in the early 70’s united with Haverhill’s Philoptochos chapter to become the Ladies Philoptochos Society “Elpis”. Cleo was highly instrumental in promoting the unity of these two phil- anthropic organizations. In the forty-five years since then, she has become one of the prominent ambassadors of her Philoptochos chapter. 

As a Philoptochos Board member, she has held the positions of president, vice president, secretary, advisor, and membership chairwoman. She currently serves on the Metropolis of Boston Philoptochos Board. For many years, she has been an active member and a past Vice President of the Parish Council. She has also received the Metropolis of Boston’s Ministry Award. 

Cleo is the epitome of Philoptochos - friend of the poor and needy. She has initiated the sponsorship of an annual luncheon for the Blind Guild (1981-2018) and negotiated that we continue to donate to “The Lighthouse for the Blind of Greece” as did Elpis. In addition, Cleo organizes the holiday shut-in program to ensure Philoptochos members visit parishioners unable to venture out. She urges members to respond to emergencies and natural disasters, to visit and support Philoxenia House in Brookline, and to contribute to the Caring and Sharing Program of her parish which feeds the homeless monthly. Her tireless efforts to chair many fundraising events, such as teas, luncheons, dinner dances, and fashion shows, not only support local and national commitments, but also support her church and her community. Cleo can also be counted on to meet the needs of all and any chapter or church event with her culinary expertise and flower decorating. Through the years, she has passed on these skills to younger women. 

We would once again like to thank all of our spornsors, volunteers, and the St. Spyridon Chapter for making this event possible. Congratulations to all the Honorees for their contrubutions and wonderful work!