Greek Murtual Society “Athena” is a nationwide non-profit fraternal Greek-American organization whose members descend from the Former County of Marioy in Arcadia in the Peloponnese, southern Greece. It is dedicated to the promotion of the ideals of Hellenism and the principles of Democracy, the preservation of the Greek language and cultural heritage, as well as the Greek Orthodox Church and the support of Greek-American philanthropic, cultural and educational institutions. “Athena” is a member of the Federation of Hellenic Societies of greater New York and the Pan Arcadian Federation of America.
ORGANIZATION, PURPOSE AND DEEDS OF “ATHENA’ SOCIETY
It was March of 1909 when a small group of fellow-countrymen from the former County of Marioy where heading to George Moriates restaurant at 18 Roosevelt Street in Jackson Heights, NY. Terrible and difficult years for the first immigrants much misery and little support. So long ago on that day when a serious problem presented itself. A fellow-countryman passed away and there was the subject of his burial. It was a big problem, even though it does not seem so today, since he was a destitute person with no resources.
His country-men settled the matter by organizing and contributing to his burial. This gave them the idea to organize a Society. And so it was, that at 18 Roosevelt Street, after discussions with more fellow-countrymen, a second meeting was held. The second meeting took place at Holy Trinity Church in Manhattan on June 3rd 1909. They founded one of the first Greek American organizations in America Greek Mutual Society “Athena”. The first board of directors of “Athena” Society was elected compromising of four members. Panagiotes Velotas, President; Constantine Cardasis, Vice President; George Mitsinikos, Treasurer, and Christos Sarris, Secretary. They drew up the Society’s first Constitution and scheduled the meetings.
The purpose of the Society from its day of founding was to give aid and relief to needy and ill members. And with the feeling of mutual support, which has always distinguished its members, “Athena” Society has been able to stretch out a helping hand to individuals or groups of people, giving material or moral aid according to the situation.
It would be impossible for us to mention separately each instance of aid or mutual support that has been extended. However, let us go back quite a few years to the Balkan war. The Society still very young, nevertheless succeeded in helping both materially and morally those members who had decided to return to Greece as volunteers for the Greek Army, in order to fight for the mother country.
And later the Society aided the Greek Red Cross during Various wars. Also, help was not denied to the American red cross (during World War 2) and contributions were made to the American aid to Greece. Repeated help was extended to impoverished families in Greece as well as to disabled war veterans.
Mainly, however, great help has been given to the former County of Marioy, by sending writing material to all the schools right after world war 2. Also, sums of money were sent at various intervals, to be used for works of public benefit such as the building and repair of many schools and churches, as well as for the recent construction of public roads.
Help from our Society has not been confined to only overseas, but has also been extended to our adopted country and the birthplace of our children here in America.
The Greek-American School of Bronx, NY, the Academy of St. Basil at Garrison, NY., the Greek College in Brookline, Mass., all of these institutions with Greek students, have often been the recipients of loving support from the “Athena” Society.
Help has not been denied to individuals and families in the United States during these many years, even though they may not be members. We will not speak further on this subject. The Society tries in every way to preserve and perpetuate its purpose.
Today, the Society of “Athena” invites all the descendants of the former County of Marioy (as well As those related by marriage), especially the youth, to become active members of the Society. After more than a century “Athena” is still carrying on its messages with preserving the lighted torch of love and mutual support for which it was founded.