Benevolent Society of Afthoni
A Very Rich Heritage
The Marmarinon benevolent society "Afthoni" was founded on August 15, 1909 in Los Angeles. Its original membership included 282 heads of households in the Los Angeles area, with some 80 members in the Tacoma/Seattle areas. The original purpose of the Marmarinon society was to aid their town of Afthoni on the island of Marmara, Turkey (its ancient name was "Preikonnesos").
Located in the sea of Marmara near Constantinople, the town of Afthoni had some 1500 families. The Marmarinon society aided their town in the building of schools, churches, roads and more in the first years of its organization. In 1916, the island of Marmara was evacuated and taken to Asia Minor. The inhabitants were allowed to be returned after World War I, but only to be relocated in the 1922 league of nations population exchange to "Neo Marmara" and "Saint Dimitrios" (near Mt. Athos) in Halkidiki, Greece. At this time, the club's activities switched to fundraising for the settlement of their compatriots in Greece. They raised money for the church and schools in Neo Marmara, as well as to aid needy families at the time of the exchange.
The Marmarinon society was very active in the Los Angeles area, and contributed greatly to the building of the first Greek church on San Julian Street. It also contributed the first Greek library for the church and the first Greek school in 1930. Throughout its years, the Marmarinon Society contributed to many charitable causes including the patriarchate, Greek earthquake relief, refugee relief, and needy families.
The organization was very active in war bond sales and Greek war relief drives in the 1940's. Its membership contributed to the building of St. Sophia cathedral as well as to build school rooms in the Skouras center at St. Sophia and the St. Katherine's community center in Redondo Beach.
Today the society has a membership of 250 and holds an annual Vasilopita party for their membership. Its charitable work continues in sponsoring the film "The Greeks of Los Angeles" and donations to the patriarchate and Hellenic charities.