THE PHILOPTOCHOS SOCIETY
The Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society is the official women’s organization of the Greek Archdiocese of North and South America, and was established in 1931 by Archbishop Athenagoras. The National Society was made up of over 450 Philoptochos chapters, representing over 50,000 Greek Orthodox Women in America. This society was formed to help the sick, poor, imprisoned and impoverished and to also assist the immigrants to adjust to the new land.
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In 1934, the women from the Greek community of St. Nicholas Church, together with Fr. Th. Karaphillis formed the first philanthropic organization Philoptochos (friend of the poor) in Tarpon Springs. They named it “Ypapanti” and its first officers were Mrs. Gus Cocoris, President; Mary Miaoulis; Asimo Veldusis; Katina Krouskos; Ageliki Bizanis; Eleni Psaras; Paraskeve Christo; Matildi Lambrou and Smarli Tsakiris.
The women of the “Ypapanti” helped the needy of the community by assisting them with food, burial service funds, financial assistance and emotional support when needed. Furthermore, they would visit the elderly in their homes, nursing homes and would assist Fr. Karaphillis when he visited the persons who were hospitalized.
In 1940, the society with the support of the Greek community built its own hall on Hope Street, which was completed in 1942. At that time, it was the only church ladies organization to own its own building in U.S.A. All of the social events of the Greek community during the next thirty years were held in this hall.
In 1972, under the President Maria Miaoulis, the Philoptochos donated the hall to the Greek community of St. Nicholas Church. The Church remodeled the hall and designated it to be used by the youth. It was renamed “Youth Hall”.
Every year the Philoptochos would raise money by caroling during Christmas and Epiphany; they would soliciting donations, picnics, and sold sponges that were donated by the boat captains. Moreover, they sponsored the annual dance of Epophany on St. Johns Day, on January 7th.
The Philoptochos would depend solely on the time and hard work donated by the women of the community, to help those in need, which is the foundation of our faith.
“THE WOMEN OF ST. NICHOLAS”
Under the guidance of Fr. Constantine Raptis, the women of St. Nicholas Church founded their society in December of 1961. Their goals were to work for the spiritual and physical needs of St. Nicholas Church. The original founders of this society were Mrs. Evee Pappas, President along with Celia Stamas and Jean Tragos. During the first working year of this society, the membership count was forty, however, by 1977, their membership count grew to 285.
The women of the church reached their first accomplishment in 1963, when they purchased the church pews. The second major undertaking was the purchase of the old city library that was located on Library Lane adjacent to the church. On Sunday, December 6m 1964 following the Agiasmo given by Fr. Constantine Raptis, the hall (the old library) was officially opened for the use by members of the church and its community. The following year, Library Lane was renamed St. Nicholas Lane.
Many members donated their time, hard work and money to paint, install new floor tiles and to refurbish the old building, which is known today as St. Nicholas Hall. Sunday school classes, General assembly meetings and other meetings are held there. The following year, the kitchen was added so that the hall could be used for other purposes besides meetings.
In February of 1977, the women voted unanimously under the President Fanny Katzaras to make a formal request to Archbishop Iakovos, to allow them to became a chapter of the National Philoptochos. As of September 6, 1977, under the President Dutchess Arfaras, the women of St. Nicholas Church became the 483 Chapter of the National Philoptochos. It was and remains that the Priest serves as President of the Philoptochos in order to offer counsel to the local organization. Their official name became “St. Nicholas Philoptochos”. Moreover, they adopted the motto of the National Philoptochos “to be a friend of the poor”.
One of their main sources of income was and currently is the three-day festival held in February. They solicit funds through donations and other fund raising events. These funds are used to provide help for the needy of our community. The Philoptochos society acknowledges the pride people have, therefore they remain a silent provider.