In October 1916, the Ithacan migrants of Melbourne established the ITHACAN PHILANTHROPIC SOCIETY 'The Ulysses', with an inaugural membership of some 153 members. This was in response to pleas for aid from their loved ones in Ithaca who were suffering deprivation during the First World War.
Over the years, however, the Society has been much more than just a philanthropic institution. It has been a constant in the lives of the early Ithacan migrants replacing the homeland which they had left. ‘THE CLUB’ as it is fondly known, became a home base for the newcomers needing to connect with something familiar in a foreign land and culture. The result was a close-knit expatriate Ithacan fellowship which strode confidently into an alien environment and over time successfully integrated with the Australian community.
That the Ithaca-Australia connection goes back a long way is evidenced by Exoghi villager, Andrea Lekatsas' involvement at the Eureka Stockade. And today, even though expatriate Ithacans frequently sojourn back to Ithaca, Australia is home, having chosen to settle and rear their families here.
Nonetheless, the nostalgia for all things Ithacan remains, as indeed the desire to pass on to our children and grandchildren our traditions and the history of their roots. Our newspaper, ‘The Odysseus’, our website, and increasingly our Facebook presence, play a very valuable role in this regard, as well as helping to maintain connection amongst the increasingly dispersed Ithacan community, not only across Victoria and Australia, but throughout the world. The Ithacan Historical Society, established in 1990, also plays a valuable role documenting and preserving our past for future generations.
The Society supports the wellbeing and welfare of its members and plays an active role in the cultural, social and educational lives of the Ithacan community. As part of its philanthropic purpose, it also supports many worthy causes, including those outside the immediate Ithacan community.
In 2016 the Ithacan Philanthropic Society celebrated its 100th Anniversary and with over 400 members looks with optimism to a bright and exciting future.
To join the Ithacan Philanthropic Society CLICK HERE for information and application form. Alternatively to request an application form please contact the Secretary, PO Box 311, Balwyn North, Victoria 3104, Australia.
Above - Antonios Ierea Lekatsas, first President of the Ithacan Philanthropic Society 1916-1923, President of the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria for 14 years, specifically 1906-1916, 1918-1921, 1922-1923, Honorary Greek Consul General to Australia for four years 1921-1925, and Consul for Greece in Melbourne between 1931 until his passing in 1946.
Below - Early Committee members standing from left to right: Thomas Metaxas, Platon Varvarigos, Timoleon Trohoulias, Angelos Lekatsas (President of the Greek Orthodox Community for 11 years), Panayiotis Patrikios, Panayiotis Ventouras, Gerasimos Gavrilis and Hristos Deftereos. Seated from left to right: Nikiforos Lecatsas, Alexandros Maniakis (Honorary member of the Ithacan Philanthropic Society, and the first consul of Greece in Victoria), Antonios Ierea Lekatsas (President of the Greek Orthodox Community for 14 years, after which he became the consul for Greece in Victoria from 1923- 1946), Panayiotis Lecatsas.