The Federation of Hellenic American Organizations of Illinois, known as ENOSIS, has endeavored to unify Chicago’s Greek organizations around issues of importance to the community. They also organize Chicago’s Greek Parade.
ENOSIS: Unifying the Greek organizations of Illinois
The task of unifying the Greek community is not an easy one. For centuries, the dynamic independent spirit which has led to numerous and monumental achievements in so many areas of human and Hellenic history can also be an impediment to unity. Yet, history has also shown that when confronted with a challenge, Greeks will unite in support of a common purpose.
The Federation of Hellenic American Organizations of Illinois ‘ENOSIS’ has endeavored to unify Chicago’s Greek organizations around issues of importance to the community. The word enosis, which translates into the Greek word ‘unity’, has guided the federation throughout its existence and as they worked to preserve the cultural heritage of our community.
Founded in 1986 by a number of community leaders who represented an array of organizations within the omogenia it was initially led by the late Theodore “Ted” Spyropoulos, founder and longtime president of the organization. Since then, ENOSIS’ membership has grown to represent many of the fraternal, cultural, social, and regional organizations of our omogenia.
In fulfilling its mission of unity, their goal is to coordinate the actions and activities of their members in order to effectively maintain, promote, and enrich the Hellenic Heritage.
General Secretary Andegone D. Boufas said the group has “had its ups and downs, like any organization,
but that things are turning around. With a renewed sense of its mission, there are 35 organizations under the ENOSIS umbrella.
“Many organizations are starting to see again that we should be united, because that way, we have ONE VOICE — one STRONG voice. They see our renewed energy, and more community involvement in the parade. We want more organizations to join us. There’s so much we can do together.”
Chicago’s Greek parade organizers
Perhaps their most notable event is the coordination of the annual Greek Parade which takes place each spring along Halsted Street in Greektown. It is considered one of the largest and most visible events in Chicago’s Greek community. Several thousand marchers and many more observers line the parade route to take part in this annual tradition.
52nd annual Greek-American Parade a success
The 52nd annual parade, held April 17, 2016, celebrated 195 years of independence. The theme was, “Commemorating our Liberation for 400 years of Ottoman Turkish Rule and Occupation.”
“The parade has evolved in a major way in the past three years. Every year the parade is bigger and better with more participants and more spectators. After 23 years, the presidential guard “Evzones” returned to participate this year. Plus, in the past three years, participation has tripled. Being in Greektown has been a welcome change and is beneficial to the Greek businesses as well. The parade belongs to every Hellene, not just to ENOSIS and its member organizations.”
Preliminary planning for 2017’s Greek Parade will begin soon. The date is TBD.
Raising the flag and laying the wreaths
Several events are held each year in conjunction with the parade and throughout the year. There’s the raising of the flag and laying of the wreaths of the Unknown Soldier at Chicago’s Daley Plaza. Additionally, in cooperation with the Consulate General of Greece, ENOSIS participates in the Neighborhoods of the World at Navy Pier. They support the events of all their member organizations.
Other events have included a fundraising dinner, a dinner dance, and a radio-thon. These funds are used to finance the parade, and other Greek Independence day events.
A vision for the future
Any Greek-American organization/society located in Illinois can become a member. The ENOSIS Board of Directors meets monthly. General assembly meetings consisting of all the member organizations occur twice each year. General elections for officers will be held this year on November 6, 2016.
ENOSIS has a vision: to bring all of the area’s Greek organizations together.
“We want to see every eligible Greek organization to become a member and fully participate in ENOSIS. We need to have one voice and support each other.”
John was co-founder and executive director of Greek-American Community Services from 1986-2001. He is a co-founder and longtime board member of the Greek-American Nursing Home Committee. He has provided consulting services to a number of institutions, businesses and organizations and has served on numerous boards and committees. Over the years, John has contributed to The National Herald, The Greek Star, and other publications.
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