The National Hellenic Museum (NHM)
Gala on Saturday, May 13 in Chicago was a great evening of music, dancing and various festivities that left the 650 or so guests absolutely happy and fulfilled.
This year’s Gala theme was “Stories of Our Journey,” celebrating the diverse stories of the Greek American experience. Under a dome of twinkling lights, and surrounded by the magnificent Windy City skyline, over 650 Greek Americans gathered with their friends and family to celebrate their heritage and give to the Museum in the spirit of philanthropy.
Greek American Chicago sportscaster Lou Canellis was the Master of Ceremonies and began the evening by sharing how he had been inspired by his Greek heritage. After the invocation by His Eminence Metropolitan Iakovos and Reverend Father Chrysanthos, Governor Bruce Rauner paid tribute to the contributions of Greek Americans to culture and society. NHM Board Chairman John P. Calamos, Sr. and NHM President Dr. Laura Calamos then spoke about how the Museum is a source of inspiration and education for many generations of Americans through the museum’s exhibits, classes, and programs. This year’s event also featured both silent and live auctions to benefit the NHM and its educational mission. After dinner, Elli Kokkinou and Christos Menidiatis brought the crowd to their feet as the Gala audience danced into the night Όλοι μαζί (All together).
The evening focused on the stories of two Greek Americans who were honored this year: the late Dr. Mary Dochios Kamberos, a Life Trustee of the National Hellenic Museum, and Mr. Konstantin Raptis, whose contribution was recently added to the Frank S. Kamberos Oral History Project at the Museum.
Dr. Dochios Kamberos’ nephew, Nick Vlachos shared his aunt’s remarkable journey from being the daughter of Greek immigrant homesteaders in Idaho to becoming a pioneering pediatrician who served as the chief medical officer for Cook County Juvenile Detention Services. He reiterated his aunt’s commitment to NHM as a place where stories like hers are shared with the next generation. Next, a video presentation showcased young students at the National Hellenic Museum School sharing Mr. Konstantin Raptis’ oral history, highlighting the value of lifelong learning for every generation.
NHM President Calamos asked the audience what the memories of their grandparents were and what they wished they had asked before they were gone. “At the National Hellenic Museum, we remember – and we help others remember,” said NHM President Calamos. “Our mothers and fathers overcame so much – adversity, discrimination, poverty. They fought in difficult wars on our behalf. They showed us by example how to get involved and how to give back to the community. Museums are places where memories are collected. The National Hellenic Museum is a real physical center for the collection of our histories as Greek Americans, now three, four, and five generations strong.”