Founders

[Hellenic Society of Constantinople]
  • Steven Chakiris
  • Yani Begakis
  • Gregory Kokkines
  • Kleo Begakis Lee
  • Mike Tsakoumakis
  • Panos Chrsostomides
  • Christine Kazanegras Amato

The Hellenic Society of Constantinople in Southern California was founded in 1966. The founders were Yani Begakis, Kleo Lee, Steven Chakiris, Gregory Kokkinos, Mike Tsakoumakis, Panos Chrsostomides, and Christine Amato.

The first meeting was held at the home of Kleo Lee at 414 S. Berendo Ave in Los Angeles. The purpose of the Hellenic Society of Constantinople was to maintain and perpetuate the traditions of the Hellenes of Constantinople. The primary fund raiser was the Annual Vasilopita Dinner and Dance with the traditional gold coin. Kleo Lee and Marika Begakis used to provide and bake the vasilopitas for the events. Mary Morrison continues the tradition by baking all the vasilopitas for the event.

Originally the events were held in private homes. Later they moved to the Ambassador Hotel, then to Friar's Club in Beverly Hills, and except for one year since 2008, the event is celebrated at the Wilshire Country Club in Los Angeles.

The monies raised were then distributed to the Greek Orthodox of Constantinople, such as the Patriarchate, different churches, the Baloukli Hospital and Old Age Home, the Orphanage and to the Old Age Home of Anayssos in Greece for the Greeks from Constantinople.

The Society has been acknowledged for their hard work and endeavor to preserve the Greek History (The Byzantium) and the Greek traditions. This is what various guests said, including the General Consul of Greece Mr. Dimitrios Karamitsos-Tziras in 2007.

  • Our Annual Vasilopita Dinner is an excellent example of an event with nostalgic moments and exceptional participation.
  • The traditional appetizers (mezethakia) prepared by Niko Begakis are delicious!
  • A night with pleasant atmosphere, good friends with conversations, and great food and Greek music with Greek dancing.
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Hellenic Society of Constantinople — Southern California chapter
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