Christmas is a time for giving, and the South Australian Government has demonstrated that with a $200,000 grant to the long-standing Greek Orthodox Community of SA (GOCSA).

The news was announced by State Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis on Thursday 15 December during the Community’s annual volunteers Christmas dinner at Olympic Hall, which will be restored by the grant to current building standards.

“This is our Government’s small gesture to you to say thank you for all the hard work you do,” Mr Koutsantonis said.

The venue dates back to the early 1960s, when it was the centre of all activities for the general Greek community and to this day holds fond memories for all who attended functions there.

GOCSA President Bill Gonis was extremely pleased with the news and took the opportunity to thank Mr Koutsantonis and the State Government again for the gesture.

“We are very grateful for the State Government thinking of us and giving us the grant,” Mr Gonis told Neos Kosmos.

“And of course it means a lot to the community because in this day and age it’s so hard to get government grants. Especially at this time of year, we’re in the spirit of Christmas, and we were extremely happy with that and it will of course be going to good use, upgrading our Olympic Hall.”

The annual dinner was a chance for the community to show its appreciation to the many volunteers who work tirelessly throughout the year to make the organisation the success that it is today.

The evening commenced with a welcome and introduction by MC Himo Tsakalos, followed by a warm Christmas address by Mr Gonis who thanked all the volunteers for their efforts.

“These volunteers strengthen and support the Greek community and in so doing the South Australian community as a whole is much better for it,” Mr Gonis said.

During the night, students from the community’s Greek schools who excelled were awarded, including high achieving undergraduate students from Flinders University with the Con Marinos Awards.

Marialena Terzaki was awarded for her thesis ‘The Novel as Textbook: Using Literature as a Teaching Material to Teach Greek as a Foreign Language to Adults’ and Ira Herbold from the Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences for her essay titled ‘Epistemology Wars: Knowledge and cultural imperialism in the history wars’. Anne Mignone from the Faculty of Education, Humanities and Law was recognised for her essay ‘Is offshore processing legal?’.

The George Tramountanas ‘North’ Association gave awards to Mia Karlis, Fotini Theodorakakos, and Vassilios Corolis for excellence in the Greek language, and Constantine Stathopoulos and Melina Gaffey were recognised by the Greek Women’s Society of SA ‘Taxiarchis’, followed by live music from John and Tambika.

Joining the volunteers and award receipients on the night were teaching and administrative staff who continue to contribute above and beyond, along with a number of official guests.

Among those who attended were Chief Justice Christopher Kourakis; Michael Atkinson MP, Speaker of the House of Assembly; David Pisoni MP, Member for Unley; Vickie Chapman, Deputy State Liberal Leader; Jennifer Rankine MP, Member for Wright; Steve Georganas, Member for Hindmash; Grace Portolesi, Chair of the SA Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs Commission; John Trainer, Mayor of City of West T orrens; Lachlan Clyne, Mayor of City of Unley; and Angela Evans, Mayor of the City of Charles Sturt.