The parish of Saint Basil Greek Orthodox Church in San Juan Capistrano recently launched their capital campaign to build a permanent sanctuary in South Orange County, CA. The inaugural Legacy Gala, held on January 7, 2017, was an extraordinary celebration at the Montage Resort and Spa in Laguna Beach, California. His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco was the honored guest at this event which was chaired by Thomas Kousoulas and Andrew Keratzides, along with their dedicated committee who planned for every detail of this elegant evening.
Grand Benefactor Chris Alevizos was recognized at the Gala for his donation of $530,000 in memory of his late wife Demietra. Alevizos also hosted a private dinner the evening before the Gala at which $300,000 was raised in addition to existing donations of over $200,000, thus bringing the total contributions to over $1 million prior to the Gala. On the evening of the Legacy Gala, the spirit of giving caught on quickly, as Archon Nikiforos and Georgia Valaskantjis and their three sons and daughters-in-law, Perry and Christy Valaskantjis, George and Georgia Valaskantjis, and Peter and Jenny Valaskantjis, came forward to donate $200,000. Archon Nikiforos Valaskantjis was so inspired as he witnessed the enthusiasm and vision of this flourishing young congregation that he pledged an additional $1 million to the effort. By the conclusion of the Legacy Gala, over $2.25 million in total contributions was raised.
In his keynote address at the Gala, His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos stated, “This parish will grow as the land is acquired and the buildings are built. But, what has made this parish grow so quickly is what is happening inside the space you have now. Land and buildings will make things possible, but never lose the energy, the faith, the commitment, and the spirit that we experience inside them.”
Since 2011, Saint Basil Greek Orthodox Church has grown from a small group of 35 families to 170 active families, under the inspired efforts of Rev. Father William Tragus and Parish President Demosthenis Zeppos. The parishioners of Saint Basil are devoted to promoting the Greek Orthodox Christian faith, rooted in a strong Hellenic heritage. Saint Basil offers a wide array of educational programs, youth programs and ministries, and an astounding percentage of parish youth participation. The Legacy Gala will benefit the capital campaign to acquire sacred space and build a church, and further expand the outreach to Greek Orthodox Christians throughout South Orange County and the surrounding communities.
The evening’s entertainment featured live music by Edo Ellas of Las Vegas, generously donated by musician Mr. John Fotopoulos. The live auction was led by Gala committee member Angelo Georggin, who was assisted by parishioner Dave Anderson, infielder of the 1988 World Series Champion Los Angeles Dodgers.
By Thomas Kousoulas
Photos Courtesy of Kayleen Jones
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