San Francisco, CA.- Under the High Patronage of Archbishop Demetrios and with the spiritual blessings of Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco, the National Philoptochos and the Metropolis of San Francisco Philoptochos presented the Eleventh National Philoptochos Childrenʼs Medical Fund Luncheon, “Let Us Rejoice and Embrace the Children”, on Saturday, November 10, 2007 at the Fairmont Hotel in Newport Beach, California, that proved to be one of the most successful luncheons to date.
Over 400 guests were moved by the inspiring message of His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios; the compassionate words of National Philoptochos President, Mrs. Georgia Skeadas; the stirring message offered by His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos; the wonderful musical program, and the popular guest speaker, Mr. Michael Chiklis, who acknowledged how his Greek heritage and family influenced him in his life and career and guided his philanthropic efforts particularly with childrenʼs charities. Program highlights included the generous donations totaling $180,000 presented by President Skeadas to seven childrenʼs hospitals and special childrenʼs medical programs in the Metropolis of San Francisco and for the medical care for children afflicted with diseases, malnutrition and other ailments in the Orthodox Archdiocese of Zimbabwe, Africa. The Luncheon program created a heartwarming and inspirational afternoon for the guests gathered to “Rejoice and Embrace the Children.”
Mr. George Miserlis, Luncheon Master of Ceremonies, aptly guided the attendees through each phase of the program interspersed with his beautiful baritone voice singing favorite musical renditions. The musical highlight was the elegant performance of Soprano Michele Patzakis Prappas whose segment included delightful singing and dancing with the Childrenʼs Chorus from the St. Sophia Cathedral of Los Angeles.
Georgia Skeadas, National Philoptochos President, extended special thanks to the Luncheon General Chair and San Francisco Metropolis Philoptochos President, Valerie Roumeliotes, and the Luncheon Co-Chairs, Patty Chacopulos, Kathy Gabriel, Marina Kookootsedes and Jeannie Ranglas and to the entire Luncheon Committee that includes committees and volunteers, locally and nationally, who worked unceasingly to ensure the Luncheonʼs success. Special recognition and gratitude were offered to the entire Metropolis of San Francisco Philoptochos for their outpouring of love, hospitality and support. A heartfelt thank you was expressed to all the benefactors, underwriters and sponsors for their boundless generosity of time, talent and treasure.
President Skeadas also offered a tremendous thank you to all the Philoptochos Chapters and members for their continued and generous support for our Childrenʼs Medical Fund Luncheon and our Philoptochos mission, “as we continue to work for the protection, the transmission and the enhancement of life in its fullest for the children.”
President Skeadas honored Martha Stefanidakis, 2005 Luncheon Chair, presenting her an award for the successful Luncheon held in the Metropolis of Denver. She also acknowledge and recognized those helping us making a world of difference in the lives of children – Mrs. Eugenia Lyons, of Newport Beach, California who overwhelmed us with her profound generosity, Dr. and Mrs. Michael Morykwas of Winston Salem, North Carolina who are our Childrenʼs Medical Fund Luncheon Great Benefactors for a third time and George and Judy Marcus for their magnanimous donation.
President Skeadas stressed that, “This particular undertaking provides critical support for ailing children and brings comfort and renewed hope for a healthy and happy future for so many families. The National Philoptochos Childrenʼs Medical Fund serves as a manifestation of love and compassion by honoring the precious gift of children”.
Michael Chiklis, internationally renowned actor, director, producer and philanthropist, delighted the Luncheon guests with his recollections of growing up in a Greek family in Massachusetts that allowed him to flourish in his life and career. He congratulated the National Philoptochos for its philanthropic work and for reaching out beyond the Greek community. In recognition of Mr. Chiklisʼ work with the Autism Speaks/ Cure Autism Now and the Childrenʼs Lifesaving Foundation, President Skeadas presented him a $20,000 donation for Autism Speaks.
President Skeadas presented donations to the following area hospitals and programs: Saddleback Memorial Medical Center (San Clemente, CA) $52,000; Mary Bridge Childrenʼs Hospital and Health Center (Tacoma, WA) $11,500; Childrenʼs Hospital Central California (Madera, CA) $11,500; Clinica Monseňor Oscar A. Romero (Los Angeles, CA) $25,000; Emilio Nares Foundation “Ride with Emilio” Transportation Program for Children with Cancer (San Diego, CA) $12,500; St. Josephʼs Childrenʼs Health Center (Phoenix, AZ) $25,000; Phoenix Childrenʼs Hospital, Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders (Phoenix, AZ) $12,500. A $30,000 donation was presented to the IOCC (International Orthodox Christian Charities) focusing on the provision of medical care for children at the Parktown Medical Center in Zimbabwe, Africa.
His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios addressed the entire Luncheon program by weaving humanitarian and theological tenets throughout his remarks stating “this is a day filled with dreams, a day filled with magic.” He offered special recognition for the spirited and talented Master of Ceremonies and the beautiful voice of the soprano accompanied by the wonderful childrenʼs chorus. Archbishop Demetrios reminded the guests of the problems that exist for children throughout the world including lack of proper education, exposure to danger and viciousness on the internet, lack of family life and homelessness.
His Eminence recognized the outstanding donations made to this Luncheon to date of $465,000 and challenged everyone to reach further and achieve the half million dollar mark. He congratulated the Philoptochos on the quality and magnitude of the work it accomplishes and thanked them for all the donations made this day including $25,000 for the victims of the Southern California Fires, which he presented to His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos. He remarked on the generosity throughout the country for the Greek Fire Relief Fund. His Eminence compared the women of Philoptochos to a “strong group of lionesses” and said that “there is no limit to what we are called to do”, and urged the women “to spread this benevolent power.”