IOCC Chicago Metropolitan Committee Holds 16th Annual Pan Orthodox Banquet
April 29, 2010
The 16th Annual International Orthodox Christian Charities Pan Orthodox Grand Banquet was held on Thursday, April 29 at The Rosewood Restaurant and Banquets in Rosemont, Illinois. The Master of Ceremonies was Father Fouad Saba, Assistant Priest of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Cicero, Illinois. The invocation was given by His Eminence Metropolitan Iakovos assisted by Father James Gordon, Spiritual Advisor of the IOCC Chicago Metropolitan Committee.
The Resurrection hymn Christ is Risen was sung in different languages. Heirarchs and clergy from various Orthodox Christian jurisdictions were present including His Eminence Metropolitan Iakovos, Greek Orthodox Metropolis, and His Eminence Archbishop Nicolae, Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese.
IOCC Metropolitan Committee Chair Bill J. Vranas welcomed everyone and thanked them for their support of the work of IOCC. Vasi Jankovich, IOCC Outreach Coordinator, spoke about her recent experience working with IOCC in the country of Georgia. She shared touching stories of the people she met who benefited from IOCC's efforts.
Banquet Chair Maria Loukaki thanked her committee and Auction Chair Natasa Samardzic for all of their hard work. She also reminded everyone that IOCC relies on the Metropolitan Committees and Parish Representatives to spread awareness, and urged those interested to get involved. Ms. Loukaki introduced the keynote speaker, IOCC Board Member Steve Radakovich.
Mr. Radakovich greeted the gathering and shared his experiences of the past 2 years on the ground with IOCC staff and volunteers at many IOCC project sites in Bosnia, Ethiopia, Jordan, Lebanon, Serbia, Syria and Uganda. One story he shared was that of a woman refugee with HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia who waited for hours to meet with IOCC representatives to thank them for helping her regain her dignity and her life. IOCC along with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church provide education and awareness programs, psychological counseling, medical support to victims, and skills training for economic sustainability.
He stated that last year alone IOCC provided more than $40 million in emergency relief and development projects. In Haiti, for example, approximately $2.7 million in aid has been provided to survivors of the earthquake by IOCC. The distribution of relief supplies has directly served an estimated 100,000 people. Mr. Radakovich stressed IOCC seeks to maintain the lowest possible overhead and ensure the highest level of integrity, by spending 92% of resources on programs and only 8% on administrative cost. Every dollar raised is leveraged to secure an additional $7 of support from governments and other organizations. Mr. Radakovich finished by showing his appreciation and asked for continued support of IOCC.
International Orthodox Christian Charities in the spirit of Christ's love offers emergency relief and development programs to those in need worldwide, without discrimination, and strengthens the capacity of the Orthodox Church to so respond. Established in 1992, by the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), IOCC is the official humanitarian aid agency of Orthodox Christians worldwide.
Since its inception, IOCC has administered more than $330 million in 35 countries throughout the world.