Southern California Notes – December 2016

Still time to reserve your tickets for the Hellenic American Medical and Dental Society of California (HAMDS) annual Christmas scholarship dinner. This year it is hosted at the Long Beach Marriott on Saturday, December 3 beginning at 6:30 pm. There will be cocktails, dinner, a hosted bar, music and a special guest, that fine comedian, Angelo Tsarouchas.

HAMDS was founded in 1980 in Los Angeles by James G. Kallins, M.D., an obstetrician-gynecologist practicing in the community for 40 years. The first president of the Society was George C. Emmanouilides, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics, UCLA School of Medicine.

Dr. Andrew G. Gianoukakis who is the current President of HAMDS and has served on the board of directors since 2008. He is an academic endocrinologist and Associate Professor of Medicine in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and is a member of the Harbor-UCLA Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism. “What is new this year,” announced Dr.

Dr. Andrew G. Gianoukakis

Dr. Andrew G. Gianoukakis

Gianoukakis, “is that we are awarding three named scholarships; two will be perpetual scholarships based on endowments offered by the families of two deceased founders and previous board members of HAMDS. The third is a one-time scholarship being offered to honor a colleague/faculty at UCI who is still in practice.”

In 1983 the Society, in conjunction with the Department of Pathology at UCLA and the Los Angeles Cancer Society, sponsored a one day scientific symposium commemorating the 100th birthday of Dr. George Papanicolaou. A number of local and national leaders in cancer research participated in the program. Following the meeting, the Society and the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce of Southern California honored the late Telly Savalas for his achievements as an actor and prominent Hellene. Proceeds from the event helped establish an endowed George Papanicolaou Chair at UCLA School of Medicine.

In 1986, in commemoration of the 80th birthday of S. James (Sparky) Vamvas, D.D.S., Professor Emeritus of the USC School of Dentistry and Oral Surgery, the first tribute dinner-dance was held at the Saint Sophia Cathedral Center. Chaired by Sam Harkiss, D.D.S. and Helen Lambros, the organization recognized Dr. Vamvas as a leader in his profession, and the Greek-American community. This successful event attracted a large number of supporters, enabling the Society to establish the “S. James Vamvas Scholarship Fund.” This fund provides financial assistance to medical and dental students of Hellenic descent who are from California or attend medical or dental school in California. The fund is the only one of its kind on the West Coast, providing financial assistance to gifted young men and women as they pursue the training necessary to embark on challenging and demanding careers in the health sciences. Since 1988 the Society has awarded 143 scholarships to 75 men and 68 women, totaling $190,250.

More information and tickets at

Long Beach Marriott Hotel, 4700 Airport Plaza Drive, Long Beach.

FEATURED PHOTO COLLAGE (top to bottom, left to right): The 2016 Hellenic American Medical and Dental Society Scholarship recipients include Evangelia Lazaris (University of Utah School of Medicine), Timothy Morley (Tufts University School of Medicine), Theodora Triphon (UC San Francisco School of Dentistry), Nicholas Taylor (UCI School of Medicine), Catherine “Katelyn” Winter (Loma Linda University), and Alexander Sherman (University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine), . COURTESY PHOTOS

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A new play, THE SECOND WOMAN opened last month and will be performed at The Bootleg Theater until December 11. It’s a play about an aging actress now reduced to playing the nurse in “Medea”. She has strong confrontations with ‘the second woman’ who may be her younger self, her alter ego or perhaps an arcane spirit right out of the  ancient Minoan civilization which is constantly referred to during the course of the play, buttressed by Cretan lyra music (performed by Jason Nicolacakis) a dance or two and the poetry of C.P. Cavafy.


Maria Nicolacakis

The person credited as ‘Greek consultant’ is Maria Nicolacakis. Maria, a performer, writer and teaching artist, is currently working in voiceovers. She was seen in the critically acclaimed, “My Child: Mothers of War,” directed by Angeliki Giannakopoulos. Maria became increasingly passionate about her Greek culture after high school when she attended the Ioanian Village Camp in Greece.

This connection deepened when, while earning an MFA in Acting at CalArts, she created a one-woman show about her Greek ancestry which she performed at the Next Theatre and again at “15 Minutes of Fem” at The Egyptian Arena Theater in Hollywood.  It was through CalArts that she met “The Second Woman’s” creator, Marissa Chibas Preston 

Growing up in an immigrant Greek family, Jason Nicolacakis was raised with the traditional music of Crete, his father’s homeland. While in college he asked a family friend and Cretan musician to bring him a lyra from the island. The friend obliged, handed Jason the instrument, and told him to learn to play it on his own. Jason spent hours listening to cassettes and CDs, teaching himself to play the instrument the way most do, by ear. He plays primarily for his own enjoyment and occasionally at weddings, baptisms, and cultural events.  He lives in Akron, Ohio.

Maria had this to say: “Both Jason and I were drawn to the play since it celebrates Cretan food, music, myth, and dance. It also explores America’s fear of aging and compares it to the ancient Greek culture which honored it.”

Bootleg Theater, 2220 Beverly Blvd. 90057. PH: 213 389-3856

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The Philoptochos Society of St. Anthony Greek Orthodox Church is celebrating its 47th annual benefit luncheon on Saturday, December 3. An appropriate theme, “Dashing All The Way,” the luncheon begins at 10.30 a.m. with a boutique, gifts and Santa’s Kitchen followed by lunch, fashion show and grand awards. Make your reservations with Christine Pappas at

The Langham Huntington Hotel, 1401 South Oak Knoll Avenue, Pasadena.

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When I asked Cynthia Daddona what she was grateful for in the past year, she replied, 1) I am grateful that I celebrated 10 years of marriage with my husband, James Stathis, who is recovering from a serious health challenge. We credit the power of prayer, a great environmental doctor, and the anti-inflammatory Mediterranean diet and lifestyle; 2) that my film “Crete – Under the Grecian Sun” was an official opening night selection for the 2016 London Greek Film Festival; and 3) that I volunteer in a community organic garden where I grow and harvest horta, vegetables and herbs like oregano, basil, thyme, mint all year long!”

Cynthia Daddona

Cynthia Daddona

Daddona is an award-wining, on-camera personality, author, food, travel, and lifestyle journalist with a stand-up comedy background. She also hosts documentaries about Crete and a Cooking Class filmed on Santorini. Her websites and blogs investigate wisdom, life, love, food, travel and eco-living. To receive her e-newsletter, which includes tips and recipes, sign up on the home page of her website Contact:




Email the author: Mavis Manus

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