Philadelphia, PA – Technology and history were joined together at a cocktail reception this past Thursday evening at Water Works restaurant. Sponsored by the Greek American Heritage Society of Philadelphia it was the first ever event of it’s type. GAHSP introduced itself to the community with a multi-part exhibition that included 4 installations and a promotional video about Philadelphia’s Greeks and the role of GAHSP.

Established 7 years ago by Philadelphia Greek-American Mary Creticos, the organization has regrouped and launched itself with a new mission statement, partner and a series of projects enacted it’s 1st year.

Mary Creticos, the founder of the Greek American Heritage Society of Philadelphia, was born in August, 1918, in Northwest Philadelphia, the third of three daughters of John M. Creticos and Grace Creticos. She grew up in West Philadelphia and lived both in the city and in Upper Darby, but after the 1950s she moved to the Quakertown area, where for years she operated a Real Estate agency. She still calls Quakertown home, as she is currently residing at the assisted living community called Independence Court of Quakertown.

Attendees entering the reception were captivated by a series of exhibits that lined the walls of the facility and a slide show that ran throughout the evening. The photographs documented the Philadelphia Greek community these past three years and was featured from the archives of Cosmos Philly.

The evening kick off with cocktails, and a video introducing the organization and it’s partnership with Cosmos Philly, titled: Greek American Heritage Society of Philadelphia and Cosmos Philly – Partnering for Future. The video featured members of the community, both young and established, talking about the significance of Philadelphia’s Greek-American’s. The video went on to say how important it was for the community to preserved and share Hellenism.

The first installations titled 1942: King & Clergy Laity in Philadelphia featured the Philadelphia community in 1942 where as the Orthodox church laity and King George of Greece visited Philadelphia. GAHSP board member Paul Mossaidis introduced the series of 3×5 foot displays that lined one side of the room. Mossaides reflected on global history at the time and the significance of the moment to Greece and how Philadelphia was center stage for that moment. As guests listened, Mossaidis also reviewed a second presentation titled, Diaspora Map, a global map with a selection of Hellenes that left Greece and made history throughout the world. Following the presentation, guests examined the large scale installations and talked with board members that stood by answering questions.

Computers and touch screens were part of the second half the evening, that featured contemporary history in the making. An interview series about members of the community was featured online and was available for those to listen to at one of the computer stations, while a large, 3×5 foot display featured the interviewed members of the series. Vasilis Voutsakis, a Korean war veteran who was featured in the series was also on hand. He applauded the efforts of the organization and said that he was excited to see more interviews of fellow Greek-American veterans recorded.

Leftheri Kostans of Cosmos Philly and a board member of the GAHSP introduced and reviewed Greek American Heritage Society of Philadelphia Interview Series. The joint project is an ongoing effort to document and feature Hellenes from Philadelphia that have contributed to the history and making of the community. The series is part of an effort to create a digital library for the historic archives of the organization that will also involve documenting organizations and churches throughout the area.

Nick Yiantsos, President of the GAHSP, was MC for the evening and introduced the final project, titled, Love Your Yiayia and Pappou Photo Contest 2013. The contest was held in 2013 and concluded in early 2014. A small display of the three winners and a touch screen was on hand for those who wished to review all the contestants photos and comments. Open to the general Greek public via the internet, Greeks were invited to submit a photograph of one of their grandparent along with up to 250 words about the significant role that they played in their lives. “We want goosebumps. We want to know your story”, said Yiantsos. We as a community, have many stories to tell and we want to share and record them for future generations”.

The Three winners of the contest, Andreas Kalisperis, Soula Philippoussis and Agnoula Marcantonis, were present and awarded Apple products for their photos and essays. Introduced by Yiantsos, they were given the mic and allowed to read their submission. Emotions overtook several of the participants who began to cry when reading their descriptions about their grandparents. The photo contest highlighted the evening and was met with overwhelming cheers and applause. “This is what it’s all about”, said Yiantsos. “These stories touch all of us and share a common bond, our Hellenic roots, help us preserve our history”.