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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 4 February 2017
NEWS 2 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 4 FEBRUARY 2017 Orestias Club donates $1m to the Greek Community of Melbourne and Victoria The Victorian Association of Argos Orestikon will continue to operate within the Greek Centre on Lonsdale Street, Melbourne In the spirit of unison, the Victorian Association of Argos Orestikon and District (Orestias) has donated $1 million to the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria (GOCMV). This donation came as a result of the sale of the club premises in Hughesdale, Oakleigh and after much deliberation on Orestias' future prospects and keeping its third and fourth generation members connected to their heritage. The historic club, formed in 1954, had been operating from the 85-87 Warrigal Road headquarters since 1994, thanks to the generosity and tremendous efforts of amazing individuals like Nikos Sikavitsas (president), Jim Megas (secretary), Costas Siskos (treasurer) and Vangelis Spyrou, as well as many other inspiring and hardworking members. That home was host to many wonderful, unforgettable social and formal gatherings as well as many overseas and local dignitaries' visitations. However, in recent times the new generation membership is declining, hence Orestias' founding members firmly believe that its own future, like many other Hellenic associations and clubs, will one day come to an end. As a result, the current execu- tive board, including the new president − Leonidas Ouzounis, Jim Megas and Costas Siskos − together in discussions with Harry Patras, Chris Sikavitsas and Bill Papastergiadis, were able to offer a new possibility and revival of the club, its future and the future of the next generations, keeping alive its rich and proud cultural Hellenic diversity and spirit. "We are confident we, together with the amazing individuals whom are no longer with us ... that all our efforts, hard work and dedication to our heritage have a greater chance of prosperity, and that our future lies in working closely, supporting and being supported by the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria," president Leonidas Ouzounis said. "We see our donation of one million dollars to the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria as an investment not only in our future as Orestias but also keeping alive our Kastoriani culture and our legacy when we are no longer around. "At the same time we are also greatly contributing to the success of the GOCMV, with its extensive and diverse education, cultural and social programs, which appeal not only to the broader Greek community but the community in general − we as Hellenes must support them," he added. PHOTO: GREEK COMMUNITY CENTRE ON LONSDALE ST. Mr Ouzounis explained his vision, stressing the Greek Australian Community of Melbourne and Victoria is one significant Hellenic link future generations will be able to relate to outside of the efforts expats make at home and with their own families. He highlighted the importance of accepting this decision not as an ending but as a new beginning, encouraging other Hellenic social groups to look into the long-term benefits in working together and "keeping our rich cultural spirit alive, further cementing Melbourne as the capital of Hellenes in the diaspora". "The success that the GOCMV has had in recent times is quite extraordinary − especially important as we smaller clubs are slowly declining and have not managed to attract younger members," Ouzounis stated. "It is led by an enthusiastic and visionary president, Mr Bill Papastergiadis, with a capable, diverse and equally enthusiastic board made up of second and third generation Hellenes. This is remarkable and comforting for us, the future of our religion, culture and language for those of us who made the decision to call Melbourne home many years ago and for more recent arrivals of Hellenes to this wonderful city." Deeply moved, Bill Papastergiadis, president of the GOCMV, thanked the Argos Association for its generous donation, acknowledging all of the Orestias board as true visionaries. "Future generations will look at Mr Ouzouris and his board as the true leaders in our vibrant community. History remembers those who are bold and decisive," he enthused. "Equally, I must thank Chris Sikavitsas and Harry Patras, who were instrumental in recognising the importance of this gesture and who worked closely and tirelessly to achieve today's announcement." He later praised the board for having put the future of all Greeks in Melbourne ahead of themselves, highlighting that the donation represents everything that is noble in our community. "This association is writing history not only in Melbourne but globally in the Greek diaspora," Mr Papastergiadis said. "The future has never looked brighter for all Greeks in Melbourne." The Victorian Association of Argos Orestikon board members embrace their legacy, excited to be walking into the future as part of the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria: Jim Megas (secretary) "My father was one of the first Argites to arrive in Melbourne and one of the founding members of the Association of Argos Orestiko and District in 1954. Since then, my brother and I have had a continual in- DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM volvement in the club in various roles and positions. My family has been there for a very long time. It has been nothing short of a blessing to have been there from the start and to still be here today. It is with great pleasure that we can announce that our contribution to the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria, we believe, will assist it on its very important journey in embracing our Greek heritage and future ensuring our legacy will not be forgotten but also prosper for many generations to come." Costas Siskos (treasurer) "I came to this beautiful country on my own as a young man in 1962 as a qualified carpenter. Not knowing anyone, I soon sought comfort in meeting others from Argos Orestikon and the surrounding districts, from then till now we formed life-long mateships that I call family. It was together with this, my new family, that we built and contributed to the success of Orestias. I am excited and pleased that all of our efforts and heritage will continue and prosper." Harry Patras "As someone who has been involved with the Hellenic community since a teenager, and a lifelong pride and passion in maintaining our Hellenic spirit, I am so proud of these, our Migrant Heroes, who came to this country with one suitcase and have not only managed to be successful individuals, greatly contributing to this beautiful country we now call home, but also provided us with the foundations for the prosperity of our Hellenic culture well into the future. As far as I'm concerned their decision to support the GOCMV is not only pioneering but also wise and visionary. Thank you." Chris Sikavitsas "Having grown up surrounded by many of the Argites for much of my childhood, and with my father's heavy involvement in the club, I have nothing but love and admiration for their story. I am so very proud to be associated and involved with both Orestias and the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria and their individual accomplishments. The foresight shown by both in this initiative will pave the way for greater prosperity for us all. A selfless donation with nothing but a love for our culture, heritage and religion as well as a huge interest in our future as Greeks. Many people were a part of the story of Orestias in Victoria since 1954. A thank you to all of them. Finally a thank you to my late father Nicholaos Sikavitsas for his commitment to Orestias and belief in the GOCMV."
28 January 2017
11 February 2017