Malliotakis Celebrates Greek Independence, Heritage

Greek legislator speaks about Cyprus, Ecumenical Patriarch, St. Nicholas Church
April 8, 2011

Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R,C-Brooklyn, Staten Island) and Staten Island Borough President James P. Molinaro (R,C-Staten Island) recently hosted an event to celebrate Greek Independence Day at Borough Hall on Staten Island. The duo paid homage to the indelible marks that Greek culture has left on the global landscape and honored several prominent Greek members of the community, including Mr. George P. Drogaris and the Katsoris family.

Borough President James P. Molinaro said, "It is with pride and respect that my office hosts our Greek Independence Day ceremony at Borough Hall each year to recognize and celebrate Staten Island’s vibrant and hardworking Greek community. This year is extra special, because my co-host is Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, one of the first Greek-American women elected to office in New York State. It is our great pleasure to honor the Katsoris Family of Supreme Chocolatier, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, and George P. Drogaris, owner of Richmond Pharmacy & Surgical, for their many contributions to the Staten Island community.”

“As we celebrate Greek Independence Day, we celebrate the endless contributions made by Greek Americans to the educational, social, moral, and economic principles that have helped provide the framework for this country,” said Malliotakis. “As a Greek-American, I am proud to join my brothers and sisters in celebrating this joyous occasion.”

Malliotakis went on to discuss three issues of immense importance to her and the entire Greek community: the island of Cyprus’ struggle for independence, the perilous state of our Orthodox Christian Ecumenical Patriarch, and the status of St. Nicholas Church in lower Manhattan.

“Cyprus continues to fight to escape the clutches of Turkish rule it has been under for nearly four decades,” said Malliotakis. “Their struggle is of grave importance to the entire region, and their plight requires the attention of Greeks around the world. Furthermore, action is required to protect the existence of the Ecumenical Patriarch, the spiritual head of the Orthodox Christian Church in Eastern Europe. Turkish laws limit candidates for this position to Turkish citizens. With the ever-dwindling number of Orthodox Christians in Turkey, hundreds of millions of Orthodox Christians are at risk of losing the head of their church in the coming years. This cannot go unnoticed and must be confronted before the looming problem becomes a crisis.”

“The most pressing issue here in our own Greek community in New York is the reconstruction of St. Nicholas Church in lower Manhattan,” said Malliotakis. “St. Nicholas was the only house of worship destroyed in the terrorist attacks of September 11, and the community has certainly suffered through its absence. I am hopeful that, with the budget behind us, Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders will immediately turn their attention to rectifying this important issue and rebuilding St. Nicholas Church as soon as possible.”

Mr. Drogaris began his service to Staten Island by opening Richmond Pharmacy in 1989. He expanded his business into Manhattan and multiple locations in Florida before establishing VIP International (Vasiliki-Ioannis-Prokopios), a pharmaceutical company whose operation reaches as far as Athens, Greece. After two successful missions to Haiti with medical supplies for children’s hospitals, Mr. Drogaris received his credentials from the United Nations as a Special Consultative status. He is a longtime supporter of Ronald McDonald House, Georgia & Demetrios Kaloidis Holy Cross School, and the Greek School of Plato.

The Katsoris Family is the proprietor of Superior Confections, Inc. George (Katsoris) Kaye, the family’s patriarch, was appointed to the Staten Island Overall Economic Development Corporation by the late Borough President Anthony Gaeta. Mr. Kaye helped form Gateway Bank, which has made significant contributions to charitable organizations and helped local businesses, eventually rising to chairman of the board. He is actively involved in the Order of Ahepa and is a founding and life member of the Staten Island Michael Constant Chapter #349. Mr. Kaye also has served on the Board of Trustees of Holy Trinity and St. Nicholas Church, including a term as its President, and spearheaded the completion of its new cultural center.