BOD Meeting: November 2020

On Tuesday, November 10, 2020, at 7 pm, the monthly meeting of the members of the Board of Directors of HCGM took place in the presence of the Media. In line with measures to protect against the coronavirus’s spread, the meeting took place online on the Zoom platform.

After the establishment of a quorum and prayer, the President of the Community, Andreas Crilis, made reference to the correspondence of the month and the replies that were sent by email.

 Presentation of Financial Statements for 2019-2020

The Chairman of the Board, Dennis Marinos, introduced Wajih Chemali, Partner for EY, who presented the HCGM audited financial statements for the 2019-2020 fiscal year. At the completion of his report, the financial statements were adopted by the Board of Directors, with one abstention.

 St. George Parking Lot Project

Presented by Achilles Nikopoulos, Secretary of Real Estate & Procurement, the scope of this project is to repave the parking lot from the entrance on Wilderton near the church until the gate where the school playground begins. Funds for this project have been collected by a group of individuals led by Bishop Iakovos. Bids were presented to the Fundraising Group of St. George’s Cathedral who will undertake all associated costs. The work is to commence within the next 10 days.

Bids collected through the fundraising group were from Desousa for $104,000, Nexus for $106,655 and Eurovia Vinci $99,244. Following further discussion, Eurovia reduced their offer $97,788 and they are prepared to start next week. The motion was passed unanimously to proceed with the repaving work to the parking lot based on the best lowest offer under the HCGM procedures and to be fully supported and funded by the Fundraising Group of St. George’s Cathedral.

President’s Report

In his report, the President announced that the Media Question period will be reinstated as of this Board Meeting. He also asked the media to continue to submit their questions in writing via email to ensure they receive the most complete answers we can provide.

On October 31 and November 1, the Laconian Brotherhood of Montreal launched an important initiative to provide help and hope to families in need during this difficult time. In partnership with the Red Cross, and with the collaboration of the HCGM Social Services Department, more than 100 families received food baskets. The President extended his congratulations to all involved.

The President had the opportunity to speak by phone with Konstantina Athanassiadou, the new Ambassador of Greece to Canada, to introduce himself, the HCGM and to congratulate her on her new role.

Fundraising lunches continue at all our churches. The HCGM is happy to see all groups, Philoptohos, Youth and volunteers from the community at large, working together towards a common cause. The President stressed that while our financial statement may have shown a positive result, this does not mean our church expenses do not continue to accumulate. He encouraged everyone to continue to support these efforts. 

The President then went on to announce the Socrates-Démosthène has recently launched a new web site, the cost of which was financed by the HCGM Fundraising Committee. Last week, Socrates-Démosthène also held their annual Open House for the 2021-2022 school year.

Supplementary Education continues online every Saturday. The President has received calls and emails about this and stated that if the conditions and restrictions surrounding COVID allow, it is his hope that these children may be able to return to a classroom setting in January. We must continue to monitor this situation carefully.

Regarding the Foyer, the President announced we are still waiting for the low income rent subsidy to be finalized so we can ensure that those who need this support can get it. As soon as we are ready to announce something more about the transfer of the property, a press conference will be held.

In closing the President reiterated the importance of our newsletter and a source of news and events surrounding the HCGM. It is meant to be an extended version to what we publish on one page in BHMA and NEA.  We were surprised to learn that a large quantity of newsletters disappeared quite suddenly from one of our distribution points and we will be investigating this

Treasurer’s Report

The Treasurer, Voula Neofotistos, began her report with an announcement that the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) was deposited last Friday, November 6.  She also clarified for all in attendance that the accounting team manages the day to day, and it is their responsibility to keep us abreast of important matters regarding the HCGM’s finances, such as when grants are received.

Regarding the CEWS, Ms. Neofotistos stated that the $1.35 million received (split between the General Fund and the Socrates-Démosthène Fund) is money for the HCGM to maintain its operations. She also stated that with our net loss of $370K before applying the CEWS, the total amount remaining is $980K. While this may seem like a large sum of money, December and February and the summer months, are historically challenging months for payroll and so the HCGM must continue to be prudent and vigilant with how this money is used. While this amount does provide some relief, the HCGM has economic difficulties that still require close attention.  We still have employees that are laid off, and others are on a reduced work week that we must look into transitioning back to full time work, all the while keeping tight controls on salaries, which are by far our biggest expense.  The BoD has been harshly criticized for the decisions we made, but they were the right decisions for the HCGM to be able to continue to operate though this difficult and uncertain COVID period. 

The Treasurer stressed that all departments must scrutinize their activities and spend only what is necessary.  She assured the BoD that we will continue to monitor the CEWS program as the rules are evolving and it is quite possible we can apply for additional funding. Ms. Neofotistos also thanked past HCGM Treasurer, Nick Flouris, who is part of the HCGM Finance Committee, for donating his time and expertise to reassess the HCGMs financials and prepare the reporting that allowed us to receive this subsidy.

In closing, Ms. Neofotistos made a motion to the BoD, which was passed unanimously, that EY be appointed once again as our auditors for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

 Secretaries Reports

As Vice President of the HCGM South Shore Regional Council, Aphrodite Stathopoulos announced that the takeout fundraiser on the South Shore will be a 2-day event on November 14 and 15. The activity is being organized by the HCGM Regional Council with the collaboration of the South Shore Ladies Auxiliary.

The Vice President and Secretary of Education Tassia Tsaousi reported that the Socrates-Démosthène annual Open House for the 2021-2022 school year was held from November 1 through 4.  Visits were by appointment only, but the response rate exceeded everyone’s expectations despite the limitations of our COVID reality. Registrations are currently being accepted and the application deadline is January 31, 2021.  More than 200 students are currently enrolled in Supplemental Education taking place online every Saturday morning via the Zoom platform. The Director of the school, Kaiti Kiryakidis, continues to receive several new registrations each week.

The Secretary of Real Estate & Procurement, Achilles Nikopoulos then provided some clarification regarding the St. George’s Cathedral Pedestrian Walkway. This project, partially funded  with the support of the Conseil de Patrimoine Religieux, is complete. We are waiting for the final report from the Architect and Engineer responsible for this project to officially close this file. The amount approved by Conseil Patrimoine Religieux for this project was $186,300, which represents 75% of the $248,400 budget that we submitted. The entire amount approved has been used, and whatever costs are over and above the $186,300 will be covered by the HCGM. Mr. Nikopoulos reiterated once again that the needs of our buildings continue to be substantial, as is the amount of money we will need to address all these needs. 

As Secretary of PR, Dimitri Katsaounis, announced that the HCGM will be releasing its third issue of HCGM News this Friday, November 13. The primary goal of this publication is to share news and events regarding the HCGM and is self financed. The cost of 6,000 copies is approximately $1,000 and we generate about $1,500 in ad revenue. He called on all Secretaries to submit reports on what has been accomplished for inclusion in upcoming newsletters.  He also announced that the HCGM recently launched a new job listing service, currently offered free of charge, designed to bring together Greek job seekers and employers. He also reminded the media to book all interviews with the President or members of the Board directly with the Marketing & PR Department and Paris Petrou.

Vice President of the HCGM Montreal Regional Council and Secretary of Ecclesiastical Affairs, Alex Vasilogiannis announced that a team of dedicated volunteers recently donated their time and materials to repaint the exterior of Evangelismos Tis Theotokou Church.  We thank them for their contribution to the maintenance of this church during these difficult times.  A joint fundraising lunch was also held on November 8 in support of Evangelismos Tis Theotokou and Koimisis Tis Theotokou (Panagitsa), which raised $8,340.

The Secretary of Cultural Affairs, George Lalos, reminded all that the Cultural Department is currently still in shut down due to COVID restrictions, but that planning is still underway for the 4 commemorative Greece 2021 events that the HCGM hopes to produce next year.  The first event in our schedule is the Parade, tentatively scheduled for April 2021. Anyone that wants to join the Parade Committee is invited to send an email to [email protected].

As chairperson of the Membership Committee, Anna Dimitrokalis, announced that our membership campaign kicked off on October 28th to coincide with OXI Day.  The theme of the membership campaign is “What would you fight for?”. There are several phases to this campaign that will be rolled out in the coming weeks. Anyone who has not renewed their membership is invited to do so on the HCGM web site.  In her capacity as Secretary of Social Services, Ms. Dimitrokalis informed the BoD that two requests for grants have recently been submitted for the coming year.  The Social Services team has been working hard to produce online events, to make calls to check in on people and to provide food to those in need. Ms. Dimitrokalis asked that if anyone knows of someone who needs assistance, or who can offer their help as a volunteer, they should communicate with the Social Service Department.

The Secretary of Athletics, Zach Tourlas, announced that although one of the main mandates of his department is to develop sources of recurring revenue through bookings of our gyms, there have been little to no rentals this year.  Having said that, the other mandate of the Athletics Department is to keep people active, involved and interacting with the HCGM and each other. One such example was the HCGM Cycling Club. Mr. Tourlas shared with the BoD that he is looking to expand his Athletics Committee to include people that are interested in exchanging ideas and developing a plan for more activities to keep us active, connected and having fun though the Winter and even moving forward through the Spring and Summer.

A question period by the members of the Board of Directors and the members of the Media followed.

The next meeting is scheduled for December 8, 2020.