Founded in Astoria, HANAC celebrates 50th anniversary by honoring co-founder

State Senator Michael Gianaris presents a proclamation honoring Douris and her organization, (Photo courtesy of Gianaris’ office)

When waves of Greek immigrants began to settle in Astoria in the 1960s, Long Island Press reporter George Douris, who covered City Hall, began lobbying then-Mayor John Lindsay for help to meet the needs of the newcomers in the neighborhood where he was raised. Douris was awarded a $75,000 planning grant and along with his wife Evangeline, who was also raised in Astoria, founded HANAC. She carried on, after he passed away in 1995, as chairman of the board. Last month, HANAC celebrated its 50th anniversary with a gala event at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Manhattan, where Evangeline Douris was honored for her lifetime of service through the organization.

“When George and I began HANAC’s journey, it was the beginning of a labor of love. Our goal was to serve our community and our motto was to do it with excellence, and we were successful,” she said. “I am proud of the work we have done and look forward to meeting the challenges ahead of us. I believe we have the courage, the commitment and the talented, dedicated staff to accomplish our goals.”

HANAC co-founder Evangeline Douris delivers remarks at the 50th-anniversary gala event. (Photo courtesy HANAC/D. Panagos)

“Mrs. Douris,” as she is known in Astoria, said HANAC’s main concern has always been the needs of the elderly and their first Senior Center opened in 1973. Despite changing demographics, shifting government priorities and the ever-changing needs of the people they serve now citywide, HANAC has continued to thrive as a positive force in Queens and beyond.

“We are incredibly grateful to everyone who celebrated this milestone with us, and everyone who has had a part in HANAC’s success over the last 50 years,” HANAC Executive Director Stacy Bliagos said. “The communities we serve deserve the dignity of housing and the assistance they need to improve their lives, and we hope to continue our work for many decades to come.”

State Senator Michael Gianaris presented Mrs. Douris with a proclamation honoring her years of service.

“Mrs. Douris is an incredible leader in the Greek-American community and we are proud of her lifetime of service and the continued work of HANAC in our neighborhoods,” Gianaris said. “I am proud to call her a friend and I wish Mrs. Douris and HANAC continued many years of success.”

HANAC now operates four senior living centers, providing more than 400 affordable units serving nearly 1,000 people in Queens with two more currently under construction. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, state Senator John Liu and Queens Borough President Donovan Richards joined in the celebration.

“It was my honor to celebrate the 50th anniversary of HANAC,” Richards said. “HANAC has continued to provide quality affordable housing for our seniors and formerly homeless across the borough. Congratulations to Evangeline Douris on being celebrated for her vision and advocacy.”