Three generations of Pontians raise funds to preserve their ‘second home’ in Sydney


“The Pontian House is a symbol of our Pontian culture, our roots, our heritage and our identity. We can proudly say that it is our second home,” young Pontian, Eleni Lambousis, said in a speech on Saturday, May 25.

The comment drew loud applause from the crowd – which consisted of three generations of proud Pontian women, men and children – who were all there to support Pontoxeniteas NSW‘s ‘Winter Wonderland Fundraising Gala’ for its 45-year-old Pontian House.

All photos copyright The Greek Herald / Andriana Simos.

Held at The Grand Roxy in Sydney’s Brighton-Le-Sands, the gala saw people enjoy a four course meal and drinks, as well as plenty of live entertainment featuring Greek, English and Pontian music. Spiro Zafiropoulos on the bouzouki drew everyone onto the dancefloor.

Pontian House fundraiser

Emcee and half-Pontian Bill Kritharas commenced the evening’s formalities by welcoming the official guests in attendance including Pontians from organisations such as the Federation of Pontian Associations of Australia, Pontoxeniteas NSW, Panagia Soumela, Akrites tou Pontou, Canberra Association of Pontos – Trapezounda, and Greek Pontian Society of Wollongong Diogenes. Representatives from the Pan Macedonian Association of NSW, the Hellenic Lyceum and the Cretan Association of Sydney & NSW were also present.

Pontian House fundraiser
Emcee Bill Kritharas

Referencing a speech he delivered at Macquarie University’s 2023 graduation ceremony, Mr Kritharas then shared his family’s personal story of migration and reflected on his grandfather Avram’s experience as a Pontian Greek refugee, highlighting the trauma and resilience of the community during the genocide. His maternal grandparents were born and raised in Samsun (a major Black Sea port on the north coast of Turkey which was ravaged by the Ottoman Turks during the Greek genocide from 1913–1923), but were forced to move to Greece during the population exchange and later, migrated to Australia.

“The impact and the trauma of that double displacement – leaving their home in Pontos to go to Greece and then again, being relocated from Greece to Australia – I never quite understood how traumatic that is and how that trauma is passed on to the next generation,” Mr Kritharas said.

“These are really our stories. These are our stories of migration. But they were very strong people. They were heroes in many ways because they adapted, they adjusted, they were resilient, they had families, and they built up this fabulous Pontian community in Australia.”

To speak further on this resilient Pontian community, Pontoxeniteas NSW youth members Eleni Lambousis and Zoe Karatasas then shared their connection to their cultural heritage and of course, the Pontian House.

Pontian House fundraiser
Pontoxeniteas NSW youth members Eleni Lambousis and Zoe Karatasas.

Eleni stressed that the Pontian House was a place for laughter, cultural activities, and a ‘second home’ where ideas are exchanged and friendships are formed.

“The Pontian House is not just a physical structure or a building, but a home where we have the opportunity to grow, learn and flourish as a team and with a community that is so supportive around us,” she said.

Zoe added that it is time for the youth to step up and safeguard the Pontian House for the next generation of Pontians.

“Let us remember the profound impact that the Pontian House has had on countless lives, the young and the old. Let us all work hard to ensure the future of the club maintains its legacy, inclusivity and opportunities for generations to come. Us, as the youth, have a goal to ensure the Pontian House continues to stand as a place of belonging for all who call it home,” Zoe said.

Following a video featuring elderly and young members of Pontoxeniteas NSW sharing what the Pontian House meant to them, the President of the Federation of Pontian Associations of Australia, Esta Paschalidis-Chilas got up to speak.

Pontian House fundraiser
Esta Paschalidis-Chilas

Ms Pachalidis-Chilas touched on the history of the Federation and stressed that it’s important for members to remain strong and united “to give a voice to the Pontian community nationally.” She said the fundraising gala was a prime example of this strength, given the number of member groups represented on the night alongside a large number of youth.

Last to speak was Pontoxeniteas NSW President Maria Anthony, who asked her all-female committee to stand beside her as she proudly addressed the crowd and thanked them for their support.

Pontian House fundraiser
Maria Anthony (centre) with her all-female committee.

Ms Anthony gave background on the history of the Pontian House, explaining how it was first purchased on November 29, 1980 for $145,000 under the leadership of former Pontoxeniteas NSW President Vasilios Paridis, who was present on the night. She said she was proud to continue the legacy of past committees.

“The Pontian House is a place where we meet, build relationships and keep the Pontian spirit alive. A place we gather with one another and promote, educate and learn about our rich Pontian rich culture and history. A place where we can speak the Pontian dialect and continue to educate future generations so they are proud of our heritage,” Ms Anthony said.

“Until today, we continue the work of our founders and now it is time to make our Pontian House ready for the future.”

Ms Anthony said Pontoxeniteas NSW had plans to bring the Pontian House “back to its former glory” by improving its aesthetics and functionality, upgrading the bathrooms, the entrance foyer, and flooring, and installing sound proofing, a bar and platform lift.

At the conclusion of official speeches, guests enjoyed a Zeibekiko floor show by Niko from My Zeibekiko Journey.

Throughout the night there was also a silent and main auction, as well as plenty of prizes to win. CEO / Founder of Heartbeat of Football and proud Pontian, Andy Paschalidis conducted the main auction, drawing applause and laughter from the crowd thanks to his great selling skills.

Pontian House fundraiser
Andy Paschalidis
Bill Kritharas and Dimitra Skalkos.

The whole night raised $33,412 plus a full upgrade of the male and female bathrooms. A great way to end a successful gala filled with Pontian culture and heritage.

*All photos copyright The Greek Herald / Andriana Simos.




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