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San Diego, California – July 4, 2024 – The 2024 Philoptochos National Congress concluded with a resounding endorsement of its theme, “Inspiring Women, Influencing the World,” emphasizing the organization’s commitment to shaping a future enriched by compassion and service.

At the convention, His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America delivered a speech at the AGAPE Awards Breakfast, where he spoke about the acronym AGAPE – All Generations Accomplishing Philanthropic Endeavors. His address emphasized the intergenerational inclusivity within Philoptochos and highlighted the value of each member and chapter in embodying Christ's love for the poor.

Led by Philoptochos National President Arlene Siavelis Kehl, Congress Chair Jeannie Ranglas, and Congress Co-Chairs Anita Kartalopoulos and Cindy Kezos, participants held important discussions, drafted resolutions, amended the bylaws, and a two-year budget, all of which set the course for Philoptochos’ continued global impact.

Led by Anita Kartalopoulos, participants engaged in key discussions, debates and resolutions that set the course for Philoptochos' continued influence on a global scale. From addressing humanitarian crises and youth issues to improving educational opportunities, the decisions made during the congress reflect the organization's unwavering commitment to positive change.

A highlight of the National Convention, in addition to a detailed review of the 2025-2026 budget, was the discussion on financial fitness led by Barbara Pasalis, Treasurer of the National Philoptochos. Barbara emphasized the importance of financial management, transparency, and accountability in preparing chapter budgets. This session followed directly on the theme by providing members with practical tools to effectively sustain and grow their philanthropic efforts.

During the social services panel, family care was the focus, emphasizing advancing our community's journey toward understanding, compassion, and hope. The session was a testament to Philoptochos' commitment to addressing the diverse challenges faced by community caregivers and how our organization supports its members in their important caregiving roles.

The conference featured diverse voices, including member engagement expert Sarah Sladek, who emphasized the importance of intergenerational inclusivity in shaping the future of organizations. Her insights underscored Philoptochos' commitment to leveraging the strengths of all members, regardless of age, to drive impactful change.

Guest speaker Maria Baltazzi brought a unique perspective, challenging attendees to redefine happiness beyond material possessions. She shared her eight essential elements of happiness – faith, love, health, gratitude, forgiveness, peace, detachment and abundance – and encouraged a unified approach to personal fulfillment that resonated deeply with Philoptochos' mission.

Vas Kypreos Priebe's message on wellbeing, health and self-care resonated strongly during the conference, especially after the social services panel on supporting caregivers. Vas emphasized the importance of prioritizing personal wellbeing as it is the foundation for effective care. She demonstrated practical techniques and promoted mindfulness practices that are essential for physical and emotional health. Her advocacy for self-care underscored Philoptochos' commitment to promoting the wellbeing of its members, recognizing that true empowerment comes from within.

As we reflect on the discussions and presentations from the Congress, it is clear that every insight—from Sarah Sladek's call for generational inclusion to Maria Baltazzi's exploration of the essential factors of happiness to Vas Kypreos Priebe's focus on self-care—contributes to our shared mission. Philoptochos' Congress theme, “Inspiring Women, Influencing the World,” continues to inspire women to impact the world by fostering a community where the well-being and contributions of every member are valued.

The Philoptochos National Congress culminated in a powerful demonstration of community service and intergenerational collaboration when members joined with the Young Adult League (YAL) to launch the Diakonia Project, a true Syndiakonia (joint diaconia) event! This initiative supported two important service programs in San Diego: Your Safe Place, which helps survivors of human trafficking, domestic violence and abuse, and the San Diego Rescue Mission, which helps the homeless. On July 4, participants assembled 1500 service packages for survivors and the homeless. Philoptochos members expressed a deep sense of mentorship and connection with the YAL participants, recognizing them as essential to the future of the organization. This partnership aims to foster a lasting relationship that connects one of our church's longest-standing and one of its newest service programs. This collaboration strengthens our social service efforts and enriches the spiritual and personal growth of all involved. National Philoptochos looks forward to future collaboration with YAL and recognizes their role in shaping the future of philanthropy and expanding the Army of Agape. Philoptochos considers the past, present, and future and reaffirms its commitment to serving communities and supporting those in need. Through continued collaboration with YAL and other community partners, we seek to expand our impact and sustain our mission of compassion and service, for indeed… In Christ we are one!

Looking to the future, Philoptochos remains true to its commitment to empowering women of all generations and providing them with opportunities for leadership and growth. By promoting philanthropic efforts and community engagement, Philoptochos is actively shaping the future and fostering a culture of kindness and compassion. By promoting inclusivity and ensuring every voice is heard and valued, Philoptochos is creating a lasting legacy of positive change that resonates in communities worldwide as we inspire women who are impacting the world!

The Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society is the philanthropic arm of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, which has been doing good through fundraising and charitable programs for over 90 years. Over 400 active chapters impact the lives of those in need throughout the United States and around the world. Website: www.philoptochos.org

Photo: Philoptochos/Allen Altchech.

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