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 CICERO, ILL.---The Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth (OCCHY), a PanOrthodox organization dedicated to educating and preventing alcohol and substance use/abuse among teens, will host an important town hall meeting for parents and students, this May 22 at 7:00 pm at Saint Haralambos Church, 7373 N. Caldwell, Niles, Ill. The theme of this event is “Keep Prom & Graduation Safe & Sober.”

              “Statistics show that alcohol is the most used/abused substance among adolescents because it is so easily accessible. Our efforts to educate and therefore prevent underage substance use can only succeed when parents, educators and legislators understand and support our mission; which in turn, encourages funding by government Alcohol, Tobacco & Other Drug [ATOD] prevention agencies,” stated Gordana Trbuhovich, coordinator of OCCHY Chicago.

                As a recognized partner of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and its National Underage Drinking Prevention initiatives, OCCHY was invited to host a town hall meeting to coincide with SAMHSA’s National Prevention of Underage Drinking Week, which takes place during the week of May 19, and focuses on the prevention of underage drinking. SAMHSA is the lead agency for the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking, and has sponsored these events every two years since 2006 as a way for communities to learn more about preventing this public health problem. With the invitation, SAMHSA offers a grant to subsidize this important program.

                The town hall meeting will feature local experts, who will help to educate parents and teens about refraining from using alcohol and other substances, and why it’s so crucial to their well-being.

                Ted Penessis, Education Manager for the State of Illinois Liquor Control Commission, oversees the tobacco enforcement operation, alcohol server training program and underage drinking awareness programs.  Penessis is a government and communications professional with twenty years’ experience, including serving local municipalities and school districts, and has considerable experience in PR and marketing consulting, and previously was a TV Producer/Director for an NBC affiliate in Rockford, IL. He will speak to teens about Illinois programs and efforts toward underage prevention and the health and safety ramifications of alcohol consumption.

                Lisa A. Razzano, PhD, CPRP is a tenured Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Deputy Director of the Center on Mental Health Services Research and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). She is the co-Principal Investigator for the 5-year, federally funded UIC National Research and Training Center on Psychiatric Disability and Co-Occurring Medical Conditions and serves as the Director for the James Scholar Program at the UIC College of Medicine. Dr. Razzano has been PI or co-PI for federally funded research focusing on mental health service interventions and psychiatric rehabilitation.  Her research and contributions have been recognized internationally, including research awards from the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association, the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Greater Chicago, and the Health and Medicine Policy Research Group.  She is an award-winning practitioner, counselor, speaker and advocate of alcohol and substance abuse prevention, and sits on numerous National, Federal & International Government Advisory boards and panels. Dr. Razzano will present, “Science Meets Your Brain,” a talk relating the brain with alcohol and substance abuse.

           Christina Jones, LCSW is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice. Ms. Jones received her Master’s in Social Work from Loyola University in 1995. She has worked with adolescents in the in-patient setting at Charter Barclay Hospital; and was the family therapist at Hellenic Family & Community Center as well as the Senior Addiction Counselor at Grateful House, a recovery center for women over 18. She earned an Executive Scholar Certificate in Non-Profit Management from Northwestern Kellogg School of Management in 2011 and spent four years as Executive & Clinical Director of Hellenic Foundation, a not for profit social service organization, where she developed education and intervention programs for adults and adolescents in many areas including addiction. Ms. Jones is a motivational speaker, author, workshop facilitator and clinical consultant. She works extensively with individuals, couples and families in the area of addiction/recovery, co-dependency, domestic violence, eating disorders, and trauma as a result of sexual abuse. Ms. Jones is passionate about educating and empowering individuals, particularly teens and young adults to make healthy choices.

                Commander Brian Baker and Officer Frank Czajka of the Skokie Police Department will address current trends and data on adolescent behaviors, parent cooperation, arrests, and consequences associated with alcohol and substance use.

                This event is one not to be missed. Education is critical to prevention. Peer pressure is rampant and can be extreme. Let’s give our teens the tools they need to stay strong, stay sober, stay healthy, and stay safe.

                 OCCHY-Chicago is a faith based coalition under the auspices of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of America and is based at Saint George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Cicero, Ill. OCCHY serves high school district 219 in the townships of Niles, Lincolnwood and Skokie, as well as the nearly 80 Orthodox Christian parishes of all jurisdictions, throughout Metropolitan Chicago.  For more information, contact Trbuhovich, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 708.298.9770.

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The PanHellenic Scholarship Foundation is proud to support the arts and culture through an invitation to attend a special performance by virtuoso mandolinist Dimitris Marinos.  The event, MUSIC ANALECTS VI, An Odyssey to a Starting Point, will take place on Sunday, May 18, at 4pm in the Chicago Symphony Center's Buntrock Hall, located at 220 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL.

Saturday, 10 May 2014 15:57

Bomb hoax forces Acropolis Museum evacuation

Written by

ATHENS, Greece (AP) —A bomb hoax forced Greek authorities to evacuate the Acropolis Museum in Athens and an adjacent subway station for more than an hour.

Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — Joined by wide-eyed youngsters from some of the city's most impoverished Southside neighborhoods, religious leaders gathered this week at the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Chicago to dedicate more than 10,000 new books provided by International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC). The trove of colorful, age-appropriate reading materials will benefit thousands of schoolchildren participating in after-school enrichment opportunities, mentoring and summer learning programs in the Chicago area.

Van E. Vlahakis—January 14-1935-April 6 2014

Eftichios Van Vlahakis, Ph.D., CEO of Earth Friendly Products, died Sunday, April 6, 2014 in Key Largo, FL.

Born on the Greek island of Crete in 1935, Vlahakis left war-torn Greece in 1953 and emigrated to Chicago, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Roosevelt University. After several years working as a chemist, he started his own cleaning products company, Venus Laboratories, in 1967. 

A 1958 chemistry graduate Vlahakis credits Roosevelt with “teaching me how to think, solve problems and to work with people.” Vlahakis found himself working tirelessly to make a better life here in America. Thomas Hassapis a 1959 chemistry graduate of Roosevelt and a friend who lived for a time with Vlahakis and other Greek immigrants in a North State Street apartment building that they called ‘The Greek Embassy,” recalled his friend’s ambition.  “A lot of us worked very hard to become something,” said Hassapis, in an article which appeared in the 2012 Roosevelt Review. 

Vlahakis served as CEO of Earth Friendly Products. “There was a lot of information coming out at that time about things that were bad for you.” Earth Friendly Products has been hailed as a “champion” in the eyes of the Environmental Protection Agency. 

“Some day somewhere a historian will investigate the origins of the green movement and its eco-friendly products. A search on ‘Google look-alikes’ will be populated with entries that contain ‘Earth Friendly Products,’ or ‘Dishmate,’ or ‘Venus Laboratories.’ The researcher may find that a young man from Greece living in Chicago was struggling with English but knew he could master the symbol-intensive subject of chemistry. That young man, Van Vlahakis, later recognized the need for more effective cleaning products and in 1967 founded Venus Laboratories, Inc. to make better cleaning products and pursue his dream of business success,”according to the Earth Friendly Products website www.ecos.com.

Known as a visionary, he was granted an honorary doctorate from Roosevelt University in 2012.
Vlahakis loved boating, scuba diving, traveling, Greek music, old movies. 

He is survived by his children John E. Vlahakis (Stephanie Anton Vlahakis), Elli Manolas (John Manolas), Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks (Eric Hanks); and by his grandchildren Alexandra Vlahakis, Ian Vlahakis, Zachary Vlahakis, Nicole Manolas, Stacy Manolas, Kasia Manolas and Alexsia Hanks. He is also survived by cousins, nephews and nieces.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Eftichios Van Vlahakis Scholarship Fund at Roosevelt University. For more information about the fund, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

May his memory be eternal.

“PHILOPTOCHOS”—Definition:  “Ladies society that performs charitable work for the poor with discretion, courtesy and kindness.”

The above definition describes the St. Demetrios Ladies Philoptochos Society of Chicago perfectly. And their latest charitable works of kindness for the poor are far-reaching, making a difference in the lives of young girls across the globe.

As part of the “Dress a Girl Around the World” project, the members of the St. Demetrios Philoptochos Society of Chicago gathered together on March 29th for a very meaningful Lenten project: to make dresses for girls in underprivileged areas in countries, such as Malaysia, Uganda, and the Philippines. Fifty-five Philoptochos members made dresses from new pillow cases. They sewed all day, beginning at 9:00 in the morning, and by mid afternoon, more than 100 dresses were ready . . . dresses that didn’t resemble pillow cases at all! These beautiful dresses were complete with decorative trim, appliqués, ribbons . . . and pockets. The pockets were a very important addition to the dresses, because inside each pocket, the Philoptochos members tucked a new pair of underwear that they had purchased. Imagine a world where every little girl owns a new dress!

St. Basil’s Church in Chicago began this ministry in 2012, and in 2013 they invited their Metropolis sisters and chapters to participate. Dorothy Bezenes and Helen Frankos organized St. Basil’s project. This year, St. Demetrios Church of Chicago embraced the idea and the St. Demetrios Philoptochos Society went to work, under the leadership of its current President, Pat Gerbanas, and Chairwomen, Kalliopi Antonakos (past president) and Gloria Kouris. It truly was a team effort, and the work and love from the 55 members will travel across the world to the young girls who will treasure their new dresses!

“Dress a Girl Around the World” began as an international idea of four women and has grown as many countries have adopted the movement. It’s true that the power of women, fuelled by determination and love, can help change the world!



Monday, 28 April 2014 13:16

Two Greek Brothers Who Serve

Written by

Fr. George P. Pappas, Assistant Priest at Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Merrillville, Indiana, and Officer Tom Pappas of the Chicago Police Department both marched in the Greek Parade on Sunday with their respective groups.  Pictured here with their families, their children also participated in the parade with their Greek School programs.  

ATHENS—Greece’s economic crisis as well as beauty of Greece’s landscape and culture inspired award-winning journalist Marissa Tejada to set her first novel, Chasing Athens, in the Mediterranean country, where she moved to five years ago.  The romantic comedy and contemporary romance novel will be released by e-book romance publisher Musa Publishing on April 25. 

On Sunday, March 30, The Greek Women’s University Club (GWUC) held its 26th Annual National Music Competition for musical performers and composers of Greek ancestry, ages 20-29, at the Alice Millar Chapel, Northwestern University. Chairperson for the event was Anna Moreno. At a reception following the music competition, three awards were presented.

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