International Orthodox Christian Charities Raises Awareness and Funds for Greece

*I’m excited to announce the next step in my journalism career as a news reporter for The National Herald (As the sister publication of the Ethnikos Kyrix, now almost a century old and the only daily Greek language publication in North America, The National Herald (TNH) was founded in 1997 in response to popular demand: to meet the needs of emerging generations of Greek-Americans whose primary language is English.)  

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IOCC

NEW YORK, NY – International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) recently hosted an event to raise awareness, as well as funds, for disaster relief and economic development throughout the world.

IOCC Development Officer Louis Zagami told TNH that for every dollar the organization raises, 92 cents goes directly to the needy, and they can leverage seven times that amount through grants. “It’s not about giving a handout but a helping hand up…helping people stuck in a bad place… usually not their fault.”

Zagami recalls vising beneficiaries recently in Greece and noticing a different type of poverty. He saw a businessman dressed in a suit waiting in line for food for his family due to the economic crisis. While this poverty is not as public as poverty in say, Ethiopia, he points out that it’s still poverty. With the struggling economy, salaries are getting cut and many families can barely make ends meet.

That’s where IOCC steps in.

Since the crisis hit, they have distributed 23 million dollars and are still actively involved in helping Greece. This is also why Zagami says more awareness, such as the May 24 event in New York, needs to be raised in the states and the rest of the world about the need for those who can afford to financially give to learn about the plight of those who aren’t sure when their next meal is coming…or how it’s getting on the table.

Zagami visits thirty different parishes throughout the year on the East Coast for this very reason. Most people especially Greeks seeing their own country suffer want to give but don’t know how and IOCC fills that void.

From the 2007 fires that burned in Greece to the financial collapse, others across the world are helping IOCC help countries getting hit with turmoil and helplessness. But it’s not just Greece being helped.

Over 110 million dollars has gone into Syria, Lebanon and Jordan just to name a few other countries since the refugee crisis started about five years ago. With hundreds of volunteers all over the world, Zagami describes his organization as “doing great things but with humility.”

 

 

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A Hip Mayor Brings Thessaloniki to the World

*I’m excited to announce the next step in my journalism career as a news reporter for The National Herald (As the sister publication of the Ethnikos Kyrix, now almost a century old and the only daily Greek language publication in North America, The National Herald (TNH) was founded in 1997 in response to popular demand: to meet the needs of emerging generations of Greek-Americans whose primary language is English.)  

Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Periscope TV for more frequent updates: @alizkoletas.

New York, NY. — The proud mayor pulls out his cellphone to show off a picture of his beautiful granddaughter. A tattoo on his wrist peeks out from underneath his tailored suit. An earring glistens under the lights of the room. He talks of Thessaloniki being a proud beacon of hope to the rest of the world, not just Greece. One immediately gets the sense that Yiannis Boutaris isn’t your average mayor.

While in the United States to pick up an award and meet with other Hellenic leaders and groups, Mayor Boutaris took a private tour of the Onassis Cultural Center hosted by the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC) on May 31. The private tour included a look at Onassis Cultural Center’s newest exhibit: Gods and Mortals at Olympus: Ancient Dion, City of Zeus.


HALC member Bill Matsikoudis introduced Boutaris with words of praise for providing a positive image in the light of the economic turmoil happening currently in Greece and he reiterated that Boutaris “has broken the mold of the typical Greek politician.”
Whether this includes welcoming the LGBT community or recognizing the 50,000 Jews from Thessaloniki who were sent to the concentration camps, Boutaris is also at the same time trying to show the rest of the world just how valuable Thessaloniki is, and this trip to the United States was another way for him to remind Greeks and Americans alike of his mission.

“Our vision is that Thessaloniki will become a very important city for this area of the world,” he says as his eyes light up. Boutaris may be old enough to be a grandfather but he emits youthful energy and a thirst for business coming from his family’s expansive winery business. It’s that same business expertise he’s taken to the city he loves in hopes of bringing it to another greater level. He wants anyone listening to take his advice and “come to Thessaloniki and discover the city!”

Matsikoudis says that’s why they feel a “strong spiritual connection” to Boutaris. Matsikoudis, whose father is from Thessaloniki, is part of HALC in order to help promote Hellenic culture and believes the mayor is doing that while also not being afraid to speak his mind even when it is deemed controversial.

“Combine that with the fact that he’s done a good job for the city” is the proof he feels that Thessaloniki should be highlighted as a way politics and business can come together for the good to accomplish great things in Greece.

The Onassis Center was proud to have the mayor in their presence, and Maria Galanou of the Executive Director’s Office noted Boutaris’ great ability to combine both powerful leadership with simple humility. “Hosting Mayor Boutaris is a great honor,” she said. “We congratulate him on his award. It is well-deserved and recognizes his valuable contributions to the city of Thessaloniki.”

Huffington Book Advice: Get Some Sleep

*I’m excited to announce the next step in my journalism career as a news reporter for The National Herald (As the sister publication of the Ethnikos Kyrix, now almost a century old and the only daily Greek language publication in North America, The National Herald (TNH) was founded in 1997 in response to popular demand: to meet the needs of emerging generations of Greek-Americans whose primary language is English.)  

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huffington

NEW YORK – The word revolution conjures images of wars and fighting…blood, sweat, and tears, but Arianna Huffington, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, is leading the fight for a sleep revolution. She recently authored a book aptly named The Sleep Revolution, pointing out the perils of the sleep deprived culture we are in and the whys and the ways to change it.

She appeared at a book signing event packed with hundreds of people at the luxurious international Greek-owned bedding store Coco-Mat in New York City on April 6.

Before speaking to the crowd, she told The National Herald, “I just love that we’re having this party at a Greek store with Greek music and Greek food.”

She talked about coming from a Greek family that revered sleep, and now she’s trying to bring that message to everyone on a public scale with her new book.

With cameras and cellphones held high, the crowd gathered around to hear why she felt this issue was important enough for her to write at length about it.

She expressed concern about children being misdiagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) when they are really sleep deprived. And that’s not the only age group: she is targeting colleges with hundreds of sleep fairs coming up soon to spread the message of how important it is to sleep more especially in college.

Not to leave the older generation out, she warned that sleep deprivation leads to erectile dysfunction so she jokingly cautioned the crowd to “forget Viagra and get seven to nine hours of sleep!”

Encouraging the crowd to try out the mattresses by jumping on them, Huffington tried to drive home the point of how important it is for everybody to get enough sleep to feel better in life.

She also acknowledged her two daughters Christina and Isabella, who were in attendance that night. Not just family came out to support Huffington; lifestyle queen Martha Stewart was in attendance as well.

Stewart told TNH how wonderful it was to see what her friend was up to, “and she’s up to sleeping! She’s trying to get me to sleep more but I don’t know if I want to!”

While Huffington may still need to convince Stewart of the benefit of sleeping more, she has already convinced Uber to partner up with her to spread the message about drowsy driving. Although drunken driving incidents have been lowered recently, she pointed out that drowsy driving accidents are rising.

She is hoping as well that her sleep revolution campaign will not just start from behind the wheel but will also reach into the corporate world with nap rooms rights alongside boardrooms.

It will be interesting to see if The City That Never Sleeps will read Huffington’s book and take her advice and start a Sleep Revolution become The City That Sleeps Well.

More information on The Sleep Revolution is available at penguinrandomhouse.com.

Dia Pyros: Brintziki Vineyards Introduces its New Wine- From The Fire”

*I’m excited to announce the next step in my journalism career as a news reporter for The National Herald (As the sister publication of the Ethnikos Kyrix, now almost a century old and the only daily Greek language publication in North America, The National Herald (TNH) was founded in 1997 in response to popular demand: to meet the needs of emerging generations of Greek-Americans whose primary language is English.)  

Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Periscope TV for more frequent updates: @alizkoletas.

Dionysi and Dionysia Brintziki, founders and owners of Ktima Brintziki celebrated the worldwide release of Dia Pyros this week in New York. “Dia Pyros,” meaning “from the fire” has a truly remarkable story of its grapes surviving the terrible “Greek Hellfires” of 2007 when the Brintzikis remember how over 3000 fires raged across Greece scorching 670,000 acres of land making it the worst fire season on record in the past 50 years in Greece. The fires even reached Brintziki Vineyards outside Ancient Olympia, and while the vineyards weren’t spared, the grapes somehow still survived through the scorching flames. Ktima Brintziki has captured the uniqueness of vinifying these grapes which have undergone such an extreme situation and after one long years of aging, they have come out with a wine that truly one of a kind. Upstairs at Kimberly Hotel was packed with Greeks and non-Greeks alike who came out to support the Brintziki Winery. Groups of New York food bloggers, including Daska Navia from Tater Thoughts, gathered together to reflect in the gathering and raise their wine glasses in salute to the incredible story behind Dia Pyros. Dean Gamanos, founder of Greenwich Wine Society in Connecticut, raved about how Greek wines are finally being discovered in America and how happy he was to support the event. As an organic winery and the first green and energy friendly winery in Greece, Brintziki Winery and the couple behind it, the Britzikis are also proud of the fact that they can now share their wine with the rest of the world and tell the miraculous story of how their grapes came through the fire to tell this story. Being released are 2300 individually numbered bottle of Dia Pyros, which are wax sealed bearing the handwritten signature of Dionysis and the oenologist George Kotseridis. More information is available at brintzikis.com.

Dionysia Brintziki showing off their wine

A group of NYC food bloggers and friends enjoying the event

Greeks and non-Greeks gathering for the presentation 

Dia Pyros meet Chrysler Building