Philadelphia, PA – It was an evening to celebrate the lives and achievements of generations of Greek-American women from the Philadelphia-Delaware Valley area. The grandeur of the Stotesbury Mansion in Center City Philadelphia was the backdrop to the 5th Annual Greek American Heritage Society of Philadelphia’s Photo Tour titled: “Axia – A Celebration of Extraordinary Greek American Women.”
An exhibition of more than eighty photographs with biographies lined the walls connected from one room to another. Guests wandered through the halls, examining the many diverse lives of the featured women. Immigrants, professionals, artists, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, simple Yiayias, and more were represented in this historical chronicle of the Philadelphia area Greek women.
Many of the women came with families and friends to see their photograph and read their stories, and others were there to honor those that past as well. Guests beamed and even shed tears as they found these photo shrines of loved ones. The realization of the sacrifices these pioneering women made was now being recognized and being honored. Many snapped up photos and posed together with the historic images, all which will be added to the GAHSP’s digital library. Their stories will not be lost to time.
Following the cocktail reception, The evening featured several short speeches and a film. Newly elected GAHSP President Desie Boston was emotionally moved as she gazed across a capacity crowd, that overflowed into the next wing of Stotesbury. She thanked the guests and reflected on her ties to the Society these past four years. Her co-chairperson of the Axia Photo Tour, Christina Katsapis, thanked the many sponsors and staff for their efforts. Katsapis oversaw and coordinated the event with her hard-working and dedicated team. Katsapis, along with Boston, developed the branding that became so popular during the year-long campaign.
The evening also featured an inspiring short film of interviews of many of the women and the next generation of young Greek-American girls from the community. Edited and produced by another talented Greek-American woman, Demi Ratchford, of NFL Films, the documentary brought on cheers as Ratchford was introduced to the guests.
Another memory of the evening were some of the guests and members wearing a scarf specially designed by Desie Boston featuring the GAHSP logo, the owl. It quickly sold out but will soon be available online. Perhaps signifying the importance of this organization and this historic event as it continues to captivate and memorialize.
The most emotional part of the evening was the speech given by Mistress of Ceremonies and Vice-President of GAHSP, Artemis “Tami” Demetris Tsingiropoulos. Like an orchestra conductor waving her wand, Tsingiropoulos hit all the right notes regarding the event and the importance of the Society and completed the task with a crescendo when she said, “Ultimately, what we want is to have a museum. A place everyone can come to.” If the Oscars ever need an MC, they should definitely give her a call.
Part exhibition, part open submission, Photo Tour 2019, took another step forward in GAHSP’s path to fulfilling its goals. With the ending of Photo Tour 2019 exhibition, Harry J. Karapalides, Esquire, a member of GAHSP, was asked to announce the theme for the Photo Tour 2020, which is “The History of Greek-owned Diners and Restaurants Throughout the Delaware Valley.” Stay tuned for announcements in late spring early summer about the next Photo Tour.