BOD Meeting: September 2020

The regular meeting of the members of the Board of Directors of HCGM took place on Tuesday, September 8. In line with measures to protect against the spread of the coronavirus, the meeting took place online, on the Zoom platform, in the presence of representatives from the local media.

Election of Executives

The first item on the agenda was the recent resignations of Epaminondas Capsis as Treasurer and Anna Dritsas as Secretary of Social Services. The two officials, who resigned due to professional commitments, will remain as members of the Board.

The HCGM President Andy Crilis, after thanking the two officials for their service, started the process for the election of the officials who will replace them. For the position of Treasurer, he proposed the Secretary of Education, Voula Neofotistos. For the position of Secretary of Social Services, he proposed the Secretary of HR Anna Dimitrokalis, who will manage both portfolios. Finally for the position of Secretary of Education that was left empty after the move of Ms. Neofotistos, the President proposed the Secretary of Supplementary Education, Tassia Tsaousi, who will also manage both portfolios. The Board voted and approved the election of the officials.

President’s Report

In his report, the HCGM President Andy Crilis spoke positively about the success of both the recent Press Conference and the first online Town Hall Meeting, with significant participation of the members of the Organization and the community as a whole.

He then reiterated the difficult financial situation the Community finds itself in and stressed how the drop in revenues in all community departments due to COVID-19 restrictions have affected the HGCM. He added that the accounting department is currently working with accounting firm EY, to complete the annual financial audit so that the Financial Statements can be presented at the Annual General Assembly later this Fall.

Then, in a spirit of unity, the President stressed that the Board of Directors is always open to any idea, initiative and assistance that will contribute to the sustainability of the HCGM. A shining example of the spirit of collaboration is Dr. George Tsoukas who joined the HCGM Fundraising Committee in December and worked with them to pledge donations of over $300,000 for our schools. The President invited everyone in the community to follow Dr.  Tsoukas’ example. He also expressed his gratitude to all those who volunteer their time or donate financially to the Community. Referring to the announcements and public statements of Mr. Christos Sirros, the President stated “we have not turned away any offer of help from Mr. Sirros”, and added, “the HCGM is open to all, there are Steering Committees in place, as defined by the internal by-laws, in which members can participate, to help our Community to prosper”.

The President expressed his deep concern regarding the negative atmosphere that is developing around the Community and the Board, saying: “what is happening in our community is disappointing. Our community is being divided and this does no good to anyone. Given the challenges we currently face, our community must be united. And we repeat what we said in the Press Conference, at the Town Hall, in our press release and on social media: “For this Community to flourish we need and ask the cooperation and support of everyone. In the same vein, the HCGM President asked both the members of the Board and the local media to work together to bring an end to the negativity that, if continues, will have catastrophic consequences: “We must not continue down this line. Anyone can approach our Organization. We have not denied and will not deny anyone that wants to offer their help and participation. Conflicts help no one. We are here to move our Community forward and we must all work together. “

The Treasurer’s Report was presented by the President of HCGM, who informed the Board that we had huge financial difficulties during the summer period. The pandemic forced the HCGM to cancel the summer festivals, which resulted in additional losses in revenue. Mr. Crilis added that deductions at source are being paid to the government as usual, and financial obligations to third parties are slowly beginning to be paid. Our commitment fees to the Archdiocese of Canada were halted in April when our churches were closed during the lockdown. The Archbishop was sympathetic to our problem and we thank him for his understanding. Our churches are open, but attendance and, by extension, church revenues, continues to be quite low. 

Secretaries’ Reports

The Secretary of Public Relations, Dimitris Katsaounis, announced four proposals have been submitted to the “Greece 2021” Committee (in Greece) for events that will take place next year, to commemorate and celebrate its bicentennial of the 1821 Greek Revolution. An HCGM Greece 2021 Organizing Committee has been established and two co-chairs have been appointed, Board Members Julie Klironomos and Dimitri Katsaounis, to oversee the planning and implementation of our projects and events in Montreal. Constance Karvelas and George Lalos are also members of this committee. The Secretary of Public Relations thanked the Consul General of Greece in Montreal Michalis Gavriilidis and the Mayor of Montreal Valerie Plante and all those who have helped us develop our plan thus far. Finally, he stressed that the success of any event depends primarily on the efforts and the availability of volunteers to turn it from a plan into a reality. In the near future, a volunteer recruitment drive will take place in which we should all be part of. 

In her capacity as Secretary of Education, Voula Neofotistou announced that students of Socrates-Démosthène returned to school on August 27 with all required measures successfully applied to protect students and staff from COVID-19. She also made reference to a very important video that was prepared for parents to have a complete picture of the measures and procedures that have been applied at every campus. Ms. Neofotistou then had the distinct honour of announcing a $220,000 grant Socrates-Demosthenes will be receiving from the Ministry of Education for expenses related to the purchase of personal protective equipment and hand sanitizers. Ms. Neofotistou warmly thanked Eleni Sarridis, Apostolis Bakalis, Maria Roussi, Cliff Cabana and the General Director of the school, Chris Adamopoulos, for their work to get this grant.

HCGM Secretary Harry Babaroutsis spoke about the first golf tournament recently organized by the HCGM. As Mr. Babaroutsis explained, due to COVID-19 they kept it small scale, with a net profit of $310 which will be offered to the HCGM Social Services. The organization of the next tournament for 2021 will start soon, which, if the conditions allow, will be a big event. The next project he is preparing is to offer photography courses.

Secretary of Cultural Affairs George Lalos said enrollment in the LEM has been postponed as he is awaiting clarification from the government regarding dance lessons. 

The Secretary of Real Estate and Procurement Achilles Nikopoulos announced that due to COVID-19, additional costs were incurred by the department to purchase personal protective equipment and hand sanitizers for all our buildings (schools, churches and community centers). He also informed the Board that many real estate projects have been delayed due to the pandemic. The bridge project for St. George’s Cathedral will be completed within the next 2-3 weeks. Various small and large building maintenance works are needed at most of our schools and churches, including repairing the roof over the Grande Salle at the Wilderton Community Center, as water leaks have increased. Fundraising efforts will have to be intensified since the cumulative cost of all these projects is high.

Secretary of Supplementary Education, Tassia Tsaousi stated that the enrollment of students in Saturday schools so far has reached 265 children. We will know the final number in mid-October, as registrations are ongoing.

Secretary of HR, Anna Dimitrokalis provided an update on the Membership Committee and a membership drive that will kick off next month. She is also announced she is developing a Human Resources Steering Committee. In closing, she referred to the success of the HCGM Cycling Club, which was warmly welcomed by younger and older cyclists alike.

Finally, the Chairman of the Board and Chair of the Laval Regional Council, Dennis Marinos, announced events at Holy Cross Church, on the occasion of the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, this upcoming weekend September 13 and 14.