History of Zoe Cavalaris Award
Zoe Cavalaris was born on February 22, 1918, in Tenedos, Greece. She came to America at the age of 3 years old and grew up in an AHEPA oriented family in Clarksburg, West Virginia. She started attending National Conventions at the age of 10. Zoe was initiated into Venus Chapter #102, when she moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, following her marriage to Thomas Cavalaris.
Her contributions to her chapter, district, and national Daughters of Penelope were countless. Familiar with the needs of St. Basil’s Academy, Zoe was inspired by an oil painting of an orphaned child exhibited at the 1952 National Convention. She suggested to use the image as a Christmas Seal by the Daughters of Penelope to raise monies to benefit the academy. The idea was accepted, and Sister Zoe became the first National Chairman of the Christmas Seal Drive. She became the 10th Daughters of Penelope Grand President and served from 1956-1958. During 1957 with the enthusiastic success of both a Christmas and Easter Seal Drive, Sister Zoe inspired the Ahepans to embark on a much-needed boys’ dormitory on St. Basil’s Academy’s campus. As Grand President she was the Daughter’s Commander on the AHEPA Easter Excursion to Greece which lasted a month with visitations over 42 hospitals, schools, and day care centers. Her efforts encouraged fundraising by the Daughters in Greece and the US to help fund the opening on April 4, 1958, of the Penelopean Shelter, now the Penelopean Day Care Center in Athens.
Sister Zoe initiated the idea of a Presiding Grand President’s Pin passed from president to president. She initiated the convention Manual of Instructions, Agenda, Recommendations and Courtesies. She was invited to the opening of the 13th Bi-Annual clergy-laity Congress in Washington, DC to address the luncheon as Grand President; the first time any Grand President was recognized in official capacity with the Supreme President. Other “firsts” among her credits are: first president of the Philoptochos 5th Diocese, one of the first five women appointed to serve on the Archdiocesan Council of his Eminence Archbishop Iakovos, appointed to the Board of Trustees of St. Basil’s Academy, and was one of the few women of her time bestowed the honor of “Archondisa of the Ecumenical Patriarcate”.
We, the Daughters of Penelope, are truly blessed to have had Sister Zoe Cavalaris as a dedicated and progressive leader of the our sisterhood, and a beacon of inspiration to us today and in the future. Her death at the age of 67 years old came too soon; but her memory lives on as we honor her each year through the Zoe Cavalaris Outstanding Female Athletic Award. May her memory be eternal.