Metropolis President's Report 2007-2009
Your Eminence Metropolitan Methodios, Father Nicholas Kastanas, National Philoptochos Board Members, Metropolis Philoptochos Board Members, Conference Delegates and Philoptochos Sisters,
It has been my honor and privilege to serve as your Metropolis Philoptochos President for the past two years. This truly has been a remarkable journey and I thank you for the love and support you have given me during my tenure. Through the unselfish and untiring efforts of our dedicated Philoptochos volunteers, our Society has witnessed a level of philanthropic outreach that has exceeded all expectations. You have embraced a call to excellence and continue to serve as role models in our parishes and communities. My profound gratitude and congratulations for all that you have accomplished. Your warmth, dedication, passion, and commitment to our mission and Greek Orthodox faith continue to serve as an inspiration to all.
Metropolis Board Activities
The Metropolis of Boston Philoptochos Board, comprised of twenty-one members with His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios serving as Chairman of the Board, holds regular monthly business meetings at the Metropolis Center in Brookline, Massachusetts for the purpose of planning, executing and reviewing projects and activities. Acting as the liaison between the National Philoptochos and the Metropolis Philoptochos chapters, all communications and directives from the National Philoptochos are routinely reviewed by the Board and further guidance and support is given to the chapters when necessary.
The new Ecclesiastical Year begins each September with the traditional Open House at the Saint Methodios Faith and Heritage Center in Contoocook, New Hampshire. The faithful from throughout our Metropolis look forward to this opportunity to celebrate Divine Liturgy with His Eminence and enjoy an afternoon of fellowship in these peaceful surroundings. This past September, everyone was excited to view the progress of the Retreat House construction project and we look forward with great anticipation to its completion.
The Metropolis Philoptochos Board is honored to serve as the official host for receptions held at the Metropolis Center, including the Metropolis Oratorical Festival and the Feast Day celebrations of Saint Andrew, Patron Saint of our Metropolis, and Saint Methodios. We also support and participate in annual Metropolis events such as the Ministry Awards Dinner and Saint Methodios Faith and Heritage Center Golf Tournament. All of these activities provide the opportunity to share fellowship with our Metropolis family, clergy and various dignitaries who often celebrate these special events with us.
On November 17, 2007, a Workshop for Chapter Presidents and Officers was held at the Metropolis Center for the purpose of reviewing the mission and goals of our Society, responsibilities of chapter officers, National and Metropolis projects and commitments, and membership. An open discussion segment allowed the chapter representatives to share both their ideas and concerns.
The Metropolis Philoptochos charities benefit luncheon, Volunteers – “People Who Make a Difference,” under the chairmanship of Georgia Lagadinos and Maria Tamvakologos, was held at the Newton Marriott on November 16, 2008. The highlight of the luncheon was the opportunity to express our gratitude to four organizations whose Volunteers have served for many years and have made significant contributions to our Metropolis ministries, as well as their own special projects. The attendees were both delighted and inspired by the remarks of our newly appointed National Philoptochos President, Aphrodite Skeadas, and keynote speaker, Demetra Ganias, television reporter and former Metropolis Oratorical festival finalist. Through the generosity of our Metropolis family and benefactors, $119,468 was raised for our projects and programs.
It is essential to keep the Mission Statement of our Philoptochos Society that directs us to aid the poor, the hungry, the sick and the aged in mind as we perform our charitable good works. Thanks to the dedicated chairmanship of Janie Economou, Vasiliki Feldmar and Georgia Lagadinos, the Metropolis Philoptochos is now in its eighth year of continuous service to the Women’s Division of Boston’s homeless shelter, the Pine Street Inn. Our board members lovingly prepare and serve dinner to the approximately 120 women who look forward to a home-cooked meal and are always grateful for our support.
Always mindful of the necessity to expand our outreach to the greater community, we have adopted a new project, hopeFound. Opened in 1983 on the grounds of the Lemuel Shattuck Hospital in Jamaica Plain, the emergency shelter has grown into a comprehensive homeless service agency which helps over 3,500 men and women annually find recovery, employment and housing. It is also home to the Kitty Dukakis Treatment Center for Women, a facility that treats women that are in the early stages of recovery from substance abuse. We have supported hopeFound with drives for clothing and toiletries and look towards including more “hands-on” service in the future.
At the National Philoptochos Biennial Convention held in Nashville, Tennessee in July of 2006, every Metropolis was given a one-time grant of $10,000 to be used for the needs of older adults, age 62 and above. Overwhelmed with applications, all of the available funds were distributed to those individuals who met the criteria for funding.
It gives me great pleasure to report that our very own Metropolis Philoptochos Social Services Fund was established in 2008 to continue to service the needs of individuals and families in this Metropolis. The guidelines are similar to those suggested by National Philoptochos for the $10,000 Older Adult Grant, with the exception of there being no age restriction in requests for funding. The establishment of this fund was made possible with the generous proceeds received from our recent charities benefit luncheons.
The Metropolis Philoptochos chapters continue to generously respond to the annual fund drives for our three Metropolis Projects, the Philoxenia House in May, the Saint Methodios Faith and Heritage Center in November, and the Fellowship of Orthodox Stewards (FOS) that began in February of 2008. Through this collective effort, we continue to provide support to these worthy Metropolis ministries. Additionally, we are very much appreciative of the support given by many of our chapter volunteers to Philoxenia House during the year through visitations and the donation of goods, as well as chapter support of the Metropolis Youth Ministry’s appeal for “camperships” to the Metropolis Summer Camp Program.
Metropolis Philoptochos Chapters
Our chapters have always been and continue to be the heart and soul of our Society. I thank all of the chapter presidents and chapter members who devote countless hours serving the needs of others. Much is asked of our chapters but they are creative, innovative and enthusiastic in their fundraising activities and outreach projects, always responding to requests from both the National and Metropolis Philoptochos to the best of their ability. With the combined efforts of all Philoptochos chapters nationwide, a total of $1,439,498 was donated to National projects in the year 2008 alone. When you factor in the support given by our chapters to Metropolis projects and local outreach programs on an annual basis, the dollar amount is even more impressive and all chapters, large and small, are to be congratulated for their hard work.
It has been a pleasure to meet many of our chapter volunteers over the past two years at social events and business meetings. We have visited the chapters in Andover, Arlington, Woburn, Worcester, Lowell/Transfiguration, Boston/Cathedral, and New London, Connecticut. Our chapters are always warm and gracious hosts and I thank them for the opportunity to strengthen the bond our sisterhood through the sharing of ideas, concerns, and accomplishments.
The need to infuse our chapters with new and younger members is essential, as is the need to encourage our present membership to accept leadership positions and become more engaged in chapter activities. Our chapters cannot continue to grow without new energy, new ideas and a vision for the future. This is an issue of concern to all levels of our Society and is a priority on the agenda of our current National Philoptochos Board.
National Board Activities
As a member of the National Philoptochos Executive Board, it has been my responsibility to attend National Board meetings and events, participate on Standing and Special Committees, and report on the activities of our Metropolis chapters. Over the past two years, National Board meetings have been held in Newport Beach, California, Chicago, Washington, D.C., New York City and at Hellenic College – Holy Cross School of Theology. I have served as co-chairman of the HCHC Committee and with the perseverance of the committee members, we were able to see the reinstatement of scholarships for deserving female students at Holy Cross School of Theology come to fruition.
The Metropolis of San Francisco hosted the Children’s Medical Fund Luncheon in Newport Beach, California, in November of 2007. It was a beautiful weekend of fellowship that culminated with a spectacular luncheon that grossed proceeds in excess of $500,000 for the benefit of our precious children.
I had the honor of representing our Metropolis at the National Philoptochos Biennial Convention in Washington, D.C. last July, along with sixteen additional delegates comprised of Metropolis National Board members, chapter presidents and chapter members. For the first time, National Philoptochos sponsored a small chapter from each Metropolis, allowing participation from chapters who otherwise would not have the funds to send delegates to the Convention. The Mansfield, Massachusetts chapter was extremely grateful for having been given this opportunity. During the Convention, the delegates voted to adopt the Autism Assistance Fund and the Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) as new National commitments to be supported annually by the chapters with a discretionary contribution, bringing the total number of National commitments to nineteen.
At the 2004 Convention, the Chapter Challenge program was introduced. One chapter from each Metropolis was to develop an outreach project of their choosing with the potential to become a National project. I congratulate the Transfiguration/Lowell chapter for presenting their Philoxenia House welcome bag project in 2006 and the Springfield chapter for their literacy project presented in 2008. An impressive amount of energy went into the development of these outstanding projects. We look forward to hearing from Worcester in 2010.
A major challenge is on the doorstep of the National Philoptochos Society - the need the find a permanent location for our National Office. The National Board, at its May 2009 meeting, approved the formation of a committee to search for a suitable location to purchase. This is, without question, an awesome task, but with faith and the support of our membership, the National Philoptochos will make an investment in the future of our Society and the goal of purchasing and establishing a permanent home for our National Office will be realized.
As we look to the future Philoptochos, there is no doubt that we are facing many challenges on all levels of our Society, particularly that of increasing our membership and cultivating leadership. Contemporary society has forced major changes upon our families, with many women struggling to meet the demands of raising their children while working outside of the home. There is precious little “free” time. Therefore, it is our responsibility to mentor and encourage the younger women in our communities to become members of Philoptochos. We must also continue to introduce programs and projects that are both innovative and meaningful to keep current and future membership engaged in our philanthropic mission and we all must make a greater effort to give more freely of our time to Philoptochos. No doubt, it is a personal sacrifice, but it is one that must be made. Since its inception nearly eighty years ago, the accomplishments of Philoptochos have been significant. Our outreach initiatives have made a positive impact on countless individuals and families and for this reason alone the Philoptochos legacy must continue.
I would like to once again express my love and sincere appreciation to all of the chapter presidents for your leadership and to all of our sisters in the Metropolis Philoptochos chapters. Without your dedication, compassion, and support, all of our accomplishments on the local, Metropolis and National levels, would not be possible. Always keep the mission of our Society in full vision as you conduct your activities and continue to do so with love and respect for one another.
I also wish to thank all of the clergy and parish councils who labor tirelessly in our communities and to the greater Metropolis family whom we can always count on for their generous support of our ministry. To Sophia Nibi, who has always been so gracious in responding to my every question and request, and to the entire staff of our Metropolis, I offer my most sincere thank you.
My profound love and gratitude is expressed to my Executive Board and all members of the Metropolis Philoptochos Board. Your commitment to and participation in our projects has made our journey together one that I will always treasure. We have deliberated, worked, laughed, and triumphed in peace and harmony during the past two years and our accomplishments have been the result of a team effort. I sincerely appreciate your support, but most of all, your love and friendship.
We have been blessed with the unwavering support, wisdom and guidance of our spiritual advisor, His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios, and are most grateful for his leadership of and vision for our Metropolis over the past twenty-five years. I would like to convey my personal thank you to His Eminence for entrusting to me the leadership of the Metropolis Philoptochos.
My life has been enriched in so many ways through our beloved Philoptochos Society. In my travels across this country, I have been blessed with the opportunity to meet hundreds of dedicated women who have inspired me with their love for and commitment to our philanthropic mission. They have made me proud to be a member of Philoptochos and I will always treasure the experiences we have shared.
Philanthropy means “to love people” and is defined as the act of donating time and service to a cause without material or financial reward to the donor, performing acts of charity intended to promote good or improve human quality of life. I leave you with this thought. “Charity is a supreme virtue, and the great channel through which the mercy of God is passed on to mankind. It is the virtue that unites men and inspires their noblest efforts.”
It is my hope that each and every one of you will always be inspired by the spirit of philanthropy. It is the common thread that unites us in this sacred Philoptochos ministry. I pray that our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ continues to bless you abundantly and that the light of His love will shine brightly in your hearts and guide you as you continue your Philoptochos journey.
Metropolis Philoptochos President