By Evageline Plakas
The Greek American Homeowners Association held its annual Thanksgiving lunch in Astoria. With plenty of food, festive spirits, and good music, the Greek American Homeowners Association again hosted, for the 30th time, a hugely successful Thanksgiving feast.
Volunteers were at their posts at the Association’s 31st Street headquarters early on Thanksgiving morning. People filled the space well before noon, the original time the event was scheduled to begin.
Turkeys were delivered to homes of fellow citizens who were unable to prepare the traditional Thanksgiving meal or who simply could not make it to the Association on Thursday. At the same time, the offices of the Association, which were transformed into a free all-you-can-eat restaurant on Thanksgiving day, saw a plethora of people, those coming to enjoy the meal on the premises as well as those stopping by to take food home for their family’s.
Greek American Homeowners Association President George Kitsios, said that at least 1,000 turkeys were donated for the charitable event. He added that he estimated over 2500 people either passed through the offices to take meals home with them or actually stayed and enjoyed the meal there.
“It is important to mention that all the restaurants in our area support us. We have the support of the public and our door is always open to everyone. Everyone is welcome, not just Greeks. I emphasize this point because this openness is part of our effort to make everyone feel the same and to come closer together as a community,” Mr. Kitsios said.
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“The Association’s initiative is a blessing from God. Every year, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Greek-American elected officials of Queens, New York State Senator Michael Gianaris, Assemblymember Aravella Simotas and New York City Council Member Costa Constantinides, as well as the consular authorities, Consul General of Greece in New York Konstantinos Koutras also passed by the offices of the Homeowners Association.
“When I come here, it’s like I’m with my family. Right after, I always go for lunch with my parents. However, we in the omogenia are indeed family and it is very important that the Archbishop Demetrios be with us,” said Senator Gianaris. Assemblymember Aravella Simotas, thanked the Association for their initiative and noted that it was “a message to our children about how to celebrate Thanksgiving.
” Consul General Koutras praised the work of the Association’s leaders,and he said “is very important all together to be united “said Koutras. “The Greek-American Homeowners Association sends a message of solidarity and generosity. With the help of God, I hope we are all here again next year.
In closing, Archbishop Demetrios gave a brief greeting and congratulated the organizers. “The present meal is not just a social contribution, but it is also God’s blessing. It is an act of warmth for the people who want to enjoy this day, but do not have what we take for granted. Let us always thank God, not just on Thanksgiving, but every day and every minute,” said Archbishop Demetrios.
Thanksgiving lunch was established by George Alexiou and the board of directors especially with the help of Peter Stathatos, Peter Pliakas and John Milas which offers food to over 2500 people every year. The costs are covered by donations of members of the club. It is worth noting that most of the costs for the Thanksgiving lunch is covered by Mr. George Fakiris.
The Greek American Homeowners Association was established approximately 30 years ago – October 1987 by Mr. Denis Syntilas and a small number of members. Some of the members wanted to buy a house for this newly established association and they did it. The founder of the association Mr. Denis Syntilas became its 1st president. Mr. Peter Valone Sr. became a member of this association from the beginning. The 2nd president of the association was Mr. John Boubaris. After Mr. Boubaris, Mr. George Alexiou became president and offered his services for a total of 16 years. Mr. Athanasios Alafogianis offered his services for 4 years. The current president Mr. George Kitsios is serving this association since 2007 for a fourth term. The association had 1300 members in year 1982. Today there ara approximately 400 members who actively participate in the Community Service provided by the association.