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District #10 Daughters
of Penelope Honor,
When I started at Cass Tech High School in 1967, I was enrolled in quite a rigorous schedule, Music and Arts, and of course pre-college requirements, add to this was Harp 101 with Velma Froude. It appears that my mom had once seen a harpist playing at an event and thought it to be an elegant past time. What was unknown to me at that time was that Froude was a taskmaster with high expectations. Every student in her class had the potential to be a Carlos Salzado! So on my second day, to my dismay, she determined that I needed to add to my already crammed schedule a ½ hour of harp practice during my lunch hour. This seemed to be the last thing I wanted to do with my lunch period. I had already lost 10 lbs running up the 5 floors to my locker 4 times a day and now to eliminate my lunch period just seemed too much to ask. I went home that night and discussed the situation with my mom, expecting a sympathetic ear. Instead she pulled out a Reader's Digest article, "Bring to it a Rainbow." She suggested I read it and give her the answer to my dilemma. As the title might suggest, the article encouraged that we do our best in any situation. And with hard work and commitment, the dark skies would pass and what would remain would be the reward of a perfect rainbow over a job well done. I took Harp for 4 years, and still remember how to gracefully position my hands on its delicate strings.
I was 15 when I read that article and now 40 years later looking back on my life, I can see its impact, for you see what I have been doing is chasing rainbows. To my good fortune my life has been filled with like-minded people and together we have worked to improve our community and our lives and "Bring to it a Rainbow."
The District Lodge members I have worked with, Penny Khorraminia, Olga Tecos, Lisa Lange, Peggy Collias, Dorothea Williams, Barbara Tecos, Dori Daskas, Connie Vlahoulis, Angie Roustemis, Emily Cunningham and Perry Katsikas and my Thamyris Chapter have completed countless rainbow missions. Whether it is a District Convention, the Festival of Tables, Liggett Breast Center, Katrina Victims, Scholarship Awards, cultural events, or supporting our churches. The Daughters have consistently delivered rainbows.
Nationally the Daughters have also caught the spirit. The AHEPA Journey to Greece mentioned in PGP Demi Kapolis' letter in your program, made me realize the richness of our Hellenic experience and allowed me to expand my understanding of who we are, where we came from and more importantly how we will meet the future. Spreading the word about the Daughters as National PR Director has expanded my horizons even further. When I practice my Greek with my "filanatha Penny" or write an article for Malista.com, it is because I am reaching for another rainbow inspired by this journey. Truly this was an unforgettable "Odyssey" that led to an entirely new path for that rainbow with a new pot of gold at its end.
When I joined the Maids of Athena in 1967, I had no idea the impact it would have on my rainbow experience. Being somewhat shy as a teen, I was really not prepared for becoming a National Grand Lodge Member in 1970. I had no idea that it would require addressing an audience, but I thought that it would not be that difficult. At my first speech, at a District Convention in New York City, standing before about 500 delegates, a Bishop, and a host of dignitaries, I stood up to deliver the Maids of Athena message. Suddenly I found my self totally at a loss, rambling, until something popped in my mind that my mother had said. I stopped and shared it with the audience. "Stand up straight, speak slowly, smile, and let them know what you know." So I literally stopped, lifted my shoulders, smiled, shook my head, and told them what I knew to be an absolute truth. The Maids was the best organization available for reaching young Greek American woman to assist them in understanding their Hellenic culture, their ability to impact a community or philanthropy, ours at the time was Multiple Sclerosis and Nationally we had raised over $10,000, no small amount in the 1970's, and finally the ability to network with talented and creative women from through out the United States, Canada and Greece. Many of these woman are still my friends today, and at my husband's graduation from Boston University in May with his Doctorates in Physical Therapy, past MOA Grand President, Katherine Triantafillou joined in our celebration along with my sister, Kathy and her husband Paul.
That is why I was so proud of our new Maids District. I know how much the experience can mean to these wonderful young women. One of the organizers of today's event, Kathy Katikos Livingston is a MOA Past District Governor, and I am sure that she will attest to a similar experience. Dori Daskas, Olga Tecos, and of course, Natasia Kouskoulas, were determined to meet the challenge of reinstating the Terpsichore Chapter at Oakland University, and now they too have found their "Rainbow." I know that there are several past maids and parents of maids in the audience, please stand and be acknowledged, you are our future.
As District Governor, Lt. Governor I was automatically appointed to participate in the AHEPA Educational Foundation. I found I was now part of a program whose efficient commitment to the scholastic advancement of our young Hellenic community was stellar. During the 30th Anniversary celebration in 2006, we honored the 300 plus past scholarship recipients at a fundraiser that featured author, Eleni Gage. The remarks delivered by Macomb County Prosecuting Attorney, Anna Capratta, and Cardiac Surgeon, Dr. Steven Kalkanis, cemented what I already knew to be a truth, that it was all so worth it. The meetings, the fundraising, hours spent planning with these dynamic Board members, Barbara Tecos, Calli Duncan, Penny Khorraminia, Georgia Sekles, Beth Gregory, and Ahepans, Milton Gust, Tony Manolias, Dean Roupas, George Tecos, Dr. Lou Economou, Dr. Mike Syropolis, Dr. Kleanthis and Chris Kontos whose continued vision has expanded the program to offer college level scholarships for AHEPA Family members. The first 2 $1,000 awards were given this year at the District Convention and recipients, Maxie Roumanis and Elaine Frangos who were both from our Maids of Athena Anastasia Chapter at University of Michigan. We have added an E-Club Membership form on the back of your program and for just $25 you too can support these talented and gifted young people to advance their educational pursuits.
Finally, I want to acknowledge my family, Paul, Yorg, Demitri, and now Jennifer, as well as my parents, George and Athena Hanzakos, and of all of my Koumbari. My family has grown up as I did with the "Penelopies". I believe that they understand my enthusiasm and perhaps if they don't understand, at least they recognize the joy it has been for me to be a part of this phenomenal group of women.
I look forward to
growing old "gracefully" with all of you. I am deeply honored
by the kind words of support and acknowledgement because indeed you are
my "Rainbow Connection, Malista!"