Daughters of Penelope
On November 16th, 1929 Alexandra Apostolides Sonenfeld with the encouragement of her husband Dr. Emanuel Apostolides, a devoted Ahepan, formed the Women’s Auxiliary of the Order of AHEPA. The first 25 charter members were the wives of Ahepa members. Mrs. Apostolides envisioned a new beginning for the first generation Greek-American women. She drafted the basic principles of the organization which were an inspiration to all women. She undertook to write the Constitution and By-Laws of the Daughters of Penelope as we know it today.
The name Daughters of Penelope has come from “The Odyssey”. The interpretation of the symbol: The HEAD OF PENELOPE, in ancient headdress, symbolizes FRIENDSHIP and WOMANHOOD, and is significant of the very foundation of LIFE, HOME and COUNTRY. The OLIVE WREATH, encircling the head of Penelope, is symbolic of the only prize given to the Olympic victors, participating in the famous Olympic Games. The CROSS is a symbol of our Christian Faith, and the CROSSED SABERS are taken from the Shield of the Greek Nation. The EAGLE symbolizes the United States. The letters T? (THETA PI) stand for ΘΥΓΑΤΕΡΕΣ ΤΗΣ ΠΗΝΕΛΟΠΗΣ; thus we are known as the Daughters of Penelope.
The objectives of the Daughters of Penelope are to promote the social, ethical and intellectual interests of its members; to cultivate good citizenship and patriotism for the countries in which the chapters exist; and to disseminate Hellenic culture therein.
The Daughters of Penelope in Canada
The first Canadian Chapter was established on May 1st, 1938 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and soon after new chapters were established all over the country. With the initiation of the of the first Canadian Chapter the Daughters of Penelope became an International Organization. The first District was formed in 1945 and it covers the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. It was named Royal Canadian District #24 and it consists of 5 active chapters; in Saskatoon (1938), Regina (1945) Edmonton (1954), Winnipeg (1957) and Calgary (1959). The first District Governor was Cleo Girgulis from Saskatoon.
In 1959, Beaver District #23-Eastern Canada was formed, and it covers the provinces of Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia. This District consists of 7 active chapters; Montreal, Quebec (1948), Toronto, Ontario (1950), Ottawa, ON (1957), Windsor, ON (1957), Hamilton, ON (1959), London, ON (1961), Belleville, ON (1971) and one chapter in Halifax, N. S. (1983) which we would like to reactivate. Golden West District #26 – British Columbia was formed in 1980 and it consists of 3 active chapters; The Vancouver (1948) and Victoria (1953) chapters belonged to District #22 but in 1980 when the Burnaby chapter was formed, the 3 chapters became District #26.
Canadian National Projects
The Daughters of Penelope contribute thousands of dollars every year to different local, district and national projects. The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation was the first National Project to be adopted. Not only money was raised for research but they also paid for the printing of 100,000 BSE awareness pamphlets translated in English, French, Greek, Chinese, Italian and Finish and distributed to different ethnic groups across Canada, bearing the Daughters of Penelope name.
The second National Project was the Canadian Thalassemia Foundation. Thalassemia or Cooley’s Anaemia is an inherited blood disorder, killing most patients in their teenage years. The Daughters of Penelope goal was not only to raise funds for research, but also to raise awareness to the public as to what Thalassemia is and how to watch to prevent it. For that purpose, throughout the years conferences, forums and Teas were held across the Canadian Districts organized by the local chapters. They were very successful and still are.