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Athenagoras Human Rights Award bestowed upon the Stavros Niarchos Foundation
New York, NY
His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America, Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, together with the Order of Saint Andrew's National Commander Dr. Anthony J. Limberakis presented the Athenagoras Human Rights Award to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. Mr. Andreas Dracopoulos, director and co-president of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, accepted the Award on behalf of the Foundation. The Award was presented during the annual Athenagoras Human Rights Award Banquet held at the New York Hilton Hotel on October 20, 2012, with some 500 Archons and guests in attendance.
In presenting the Award, National Commander Limberakis, paid tribute to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, one of the world's leading international philanthropic organizations, for their extraordinary and positive impact on the public welfare. Dr. Limberakis enumerated the various activities of philanthropic giving of the Niarchos Foundation saying that the foundation in its 16 year history has provided over 2,000 grants to nonprofit organizations in 90 nations around the world, with over one billion dollars in humanitarian grants. He particularly pointed out the Foundation's $130 million grant to the suffering citizens of Greece which he said "it exemplifies the ethos of philanthropy." Concluding his address Dr. Limberakis said that, "This Foundation, this institution of Philanthropy which is in the middle of the great Global Arena richly deserves our emulation, our deep admiration and our profound gratitude."
Established in 1986, the Athenagoras Human Rights Award is given in honor of Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras, who served as Archbishop of the Americas for 18 years before being elected Ecumenical Patriarch in 1948. He was universally acknowledged as a visionary leader and worked for peace among Churches and people throughout his life. As in the past 13 years, National Vice Commander Nicholas J. Bouras again generously served as Banquet Underwriter, together with the Stavros Niarchos Fountation.
Previous recipients of this prestigious Award have included President Jimmy Carter, President George H.W. Bush, President Mikhail Gorbachev, Elie Wiesel, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mother Teresa, Archbishop Demetrios of America, Archbishop Iakovos, Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, and last year's recipient Admiral James G. Stavridis who accepted on behalf of the heroic members of the U.S. Armed Forces.
In accepting the award Mr. Andreas Dracopoulos expressed his gratitude for the honor, both personally and on behalf of the Niarchos Foundation. He spoke of the Foundation's ideals in support of basic freedoms, such are the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion and worship, and the freedoms from want and from fear. He also outlined an ideal of a society of social welfare, which provides for its citizens the basic needs for life, decency, dignity, civility, the opportunity to dream and the hope for a better tomorrow and expressed the need to collaborate towards this end.
Mr. Dracopoulos, said that philanthropy can be expressed in many ways and financial support is an effective one while volunteerism is another important such expression, saying, "Philanthropy is one of the few areas nowadays that should not, and does not thankfully, polarize people. Foundations, the institutionalized form of philanthropy, get the moral satisfaction that comes from having played, hopefully, a productive role in complementing the State's efforts in providing for a better society for all. Philanthropy, however, cannot and should never, anyway, replace the State. Philanthropy, however, does not just happen by itself, and it is not a 'divine' force of good. It needs time and financial resources, it needs a certain commitment, and in a larger scale it is not unlike running any other successful for-profit enterprise." He said that the Niarchos Foundation through their philanthropic giving wants to sustain the basic pillars of society and democracy. Mr. Dracopoulos finally quoted a Greek philosopher, Emmanouil Kriaras, who said that true love can only be achieved by being able to constantly seek your ideals and urged all present "to seek your ideals, do your best to help the needy and in doing so stay in love."
Archbishop Demetrios, who offered the Archepiscopal response, congratulated Mr. Dracopoulos and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation for their work worldwide, saying "their work is a very differentiated and diversified giving activity," and outlined with many examples in the 16 years of life of the Foundation. His Eminence pointed out that unlike other foundations and organizations the Niarchos Foundation only gives, it does not collect and it does fundraise. His Eminence outlined the many qualities of courage, compassion and reconciliation of Patriarch Athenagoras and pointed out that the recipients of this Award are indeed worthy of the honor. His Eminence said that Mr. Dracopoulos in leading the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, has demonstrated an ethos of compassion which through philanthropy helps overcome human suffering, promotes community vitality, the enrichment of quality of life, the sustainable advancement of our Hellenic cultural heritage and the continued achievement of Hellenes and people around the world.
Archon John Halecky, Jr., National Secretary welcomed to the Banquet those in attendance on behalf of the Order. His Excellency Christos Panagopoulos, the Ambassador of Greece to the United States, presented congratulatory remarks on the accomplishments of the Foundation.
Archon Congressman Gus Bilirakis served as Master of Ceremonies and Archon Andrew Manatos offered the introduction of the dais guests. Archons Theodore Demetriou and Dean Poll served as co-chairs, while National Vice Commander Nicholas J. Bouras together with the Niarchos Foundation were the underwriters of the event.
Earlier in the weekend, the Annual Archon Weekend commenced on Friday, October 19, with a joint meeting of the National Council and Regional Commanders. That evening, Archons James C. Fountas and John Halecky, Jr. were honored at a dinner dance as this years recipients of the Nicholas J. Bouras Award for Extraordinary Archon Stewardship. An Archon orientation breakfast was held the following morning for Archons-elect and their spouses. His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios of Boston, National Council and Regional Commanders also participated in the breakfast. The National Commander Limberakis extended a warm welcome and offered a dynamic multimedia presentation on the history of The Order, its role as advocate for the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and the 'humbling recognition and awesome responsibility' the Archon-elect members will now assume.
Later that morning, the Annual Archon Assembly convened in which several religious freedom reports and presentations were offered that morning outlining the Order's latest progress. The Archon Class of 2012 was formally presented to the Exarch by Archons Constantine G. Caras and the Hon. Nicholas Tsoucalas, chairs of the new Archon selection committee. His Eminence also led a memorial service for Archons who departed this past year.
Dr. Maria A. Limberakis, wife of the National Commander, hosted a luncheon that afternoon on behalf of the wives of the National Council members and Regional Commanders, and welcomed Archons, Archons-elect and their families. Mr. Stelios Vasilakis, Senior Program Officer for Strategy and Initiatives and Co-Chief for Public Affairs, later spoke on the current development of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) in Athens. The Cultural Center is the Foundation's largest individual gift as the Foundation funds, in full, the Center's construction and equipping. The SNFCC includes new, state-of-the-art premises for the National Library of Greece and the Greek National Opera, as well as the Stavros Niarchos Park, which spans 42 acres. Upon its completion in 2015, the SNFCC will be donated to the Greek State, which will be exclusively responsible for its management and operation.
The annual Archon Weekend concluded on Sunday morning, October 21, with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. Archbishop Demetrios presided at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in New York City with Metropolitans Methodios, Alexios of Atlanta and Dimitrios of Xanthos concelebrating, with Evangelos of New Jersey also attending. Following the Divine Liturgy the ceremony of investiture of the new Archons took place. New Archons invested include the following:
Aristides P. Assimacopoulos, M.D., Sioux Falls, SD