As mentioned above, the Trifylleion Foundation of Kytherians owes its name to instigator and great benefactor Nikolaos Trifyllis from the Kytherian village of Trifyllianika. Wishing to provide to his fellow Kytherians hospital care on a permanent basis, he bequeathed with the 10494/26.6.1948 last will and testament all of his property for the establishment of a charity foundation entitled “Trifylleion Hospital of Kythera”, with the sole purpose the building and operating a hospital in Potamos Kythera. The Nikolaos Trifyllis’ initiative was followed by significant donations from other Kytherians, including P. Panaretos, Mich. Semitekolos, Bros. Kassimati, Leon. Megalokonomos and others.
For the implementation of Trifyllis’ wish, a “Fundraising Committee” was set up consisting of: the Archimandrite Gabriel Kalokairinos, Theod. Katrakis, I, Fotios, Greg. Kasimatis, Kriton. Dilaveris, I. Kontoleon, Dim. Marselos, Pan. Fotinos, Pan. Th. Panaretos, Nik. Kastrisios, Pan. I. Trifyllis, Pan. Gavrilis, V. Baveas, Theod. Archontoulis, and I.S.Kassimatis. The Fundraising Committee finished its job in a short time and on 21.5.1953 the hospital in Potamos Kythera was inaugurated, fulfilling thus Trifyllis wish. The hospital was built on a site donated by Pan. Th. Panaretos, one of the executors of the Will and nephew of Trifyllis.
As soon as the construction of the hospital was completed, N. Trifyllis transferred to the Fundraising Committee the well known restaurant by the name of “SINTRIVANI” (“FOUNDAIN”) in Athens, 5 Themistocleous street, under the condition that a Foundation would be created in Athens by the name of TRIFYLLEION HOSPITAL OF KYTHERA that would reconstruct the 5 Themistocleous building and use the proceeds for the operation of the hospital, but for other charity purposes as well. Meanwhile N. Trifillis passed away (May 1955), following which the Fundraising Committee with the 62/14.11.1956 decision instituted the Foundation with the 359/14.11.56 notarιal deed of the J. Varipatis notary that was, in turn, officially approved by the 25.6.1957 Royal Decree as a Private Legal Entity (Ν.Π.Ι.Δ in Greek) under the law 2039/2039 (now revised as law 4182/2013).
Article 2 of the Foundation Organization determines: 1) the newly erected hospital in Potamos Kythera by the Fundraising Committee, with funds collected from a PanKytherian campaign, has the purpose of providing medical and hospital care to patients, excluding those suffering from incurable or contentious diseases; 2) apart from this, the Foundation’s Board of Directors may decide to spend any budget surpluses on other Kytherian charitable activities or goals.
When the operation of the hospital was undertaken by the government (The Ministry of Social Welfare), the conditions of providing medical and hospital care to Kytherians improved and the Foundation was relieved from spending on the hospital, which in any case was beyond its financial possibilities. Economizing thus on its income, the Administration of the Foundation decided to extend its charitable activities to the care of the aged residents in Kythera. This was a need as vital as the hospital care, considering the large number of the aged population who because of the emigration of their children lived alone and helpless. Thus, paragraph 1 of article 2 of the Foundation Organization was complemented with the 13955/17.5.1968 notarιan Act of J. Varipatis Notary with the following wording: 1a. Aim of the Foundation is also the establishment and operation of a Nursing Home in Potamos Kythera for the hosting and care of aging people of both genders according to special regulations to be decided by the Foundation’s Board of Directors.
Nikolaos Trifyllis: The Founder
Nikolaos Trifyllis was born in 1873 at the village of Trifyllianika in the region of the then Municipality of Potamos. Pushed by the limited economic means of his parents, he moved as a child originally to Piraeus and later to Athens in search of a better future. Working incessantly, hard and insistently, he managed to evolve into a notable businessman. Before reaching the age of 30, he was considered as the larger restaurant owner in Athens, and in his famous “Sintrivani” (“Fountain”) restaurant served crowds of people. At the outset of the Balkan wars in 1912, Trifyllis rushed to enlist as a volunteer in the infantry since as a conscript in the navy was too old to be drafted; he served in the war front and he demonstrated gallantry. For this, he was publicly praised and decorated by the then Commander in Chief, the Crown Prince Constantine.
Despite his huge property, Nikolaos Trifyllis lived a simple and austere life. He inhabited a small half basement apartment in the Athens Museum area. According to the Member of the Greek parliament and Trifyllis’ close friend and lawyer, J. Kontoleon, Nikolaos Trifyllis “was always and remained the most frugal and austere person, a real ascetic”. Perhaps it is not widely known, but Nikolaos Trifyllis in all his life was filled with benevolence towards his fellow men and the country. Thus, according to witnesses, during the Balkan wars he offered to the government a very significant amount of money for the war. He has also readily and generously financed fundraising efforts for charity purposes, as well as helped poor Kytherian youth, distinguished for their intelligence and performance, to cope with their studies. Trifyllis had a persistent vision that Kythera should at last have an organized and complete hospital. For implementing his vision, Trifyllis writes in 1948 his last will and testament with which he leaves, post mortem, his entire property to a Foundation to be established, carrying the name of “Trifylleion Hospital”, with the aim to construct a suitable building for the installation and operation of a hospital in Kythera.
Following his will, Trifyllis had a decisive involvement in the debate for the setting up of the Fundraising Committee, with the purpose of creating the hospital in Kythera and the asphalting of the central road axis of the island. In fact, on 8 November 1951 he signed, together with Michael Semitekolos, a document appointing the members of the Fundraising Committee, while stating that he donates the 5 Themistocleous building, known as “Sintrivani” (“Fountain”) for the financial support of the forthcoming hospital. For the implementation of this commitment, the 8239/15.3.1954 in vivo donation contract of the Piraeus Notary J. P. Simos was signed. With this contract Nikolaos Trifyllis in fact confirmed his 8.11.1951 written commitment and donated the Sintrivani building to the Fundraising Committee. Unfortunately this great benefactor of Kythera could not see the hospital running, since he suffered a sudden cardiac arrest after which he passed away in 8 days on the 20th of May 1955, one year before the festive inauguration of the hospital took place on the 21th of May 1956.
With his donated significant property, Trifyllis first contributed decisively, for a number of years, to the extent legally feasible, in the operation, the equipment and the manning of the Trifylleion hospital; and second, he put up the initial basic property creating the Trifylleion Foundation, which, capitalizing effectively both on Trifyllis’ property and the property donated by many other Kytherian benefactors, developed simultaneously a variety of impressive charitable activity in our island.
The Hospital in Kythera
The opening of the hospital, named after Trifyllis as the “Trifylleion Hospital”, bequest of N. Trifyllis, took place on the 21th of May 1956. The bust of this great benefactor decorates the entrance of the hospital. At first, the hospital operated under the responsibility and finance of the Fundraising Committee and the Foundation that succeeded it up until August 1959. Subsequently, because the operating cost exceeded the revenue from the property of the Foundation, the hospital was leased to the Government (The Ministry of social Welfare) at a symbolic rent, so that the ministry bears the cost of its operation, constituting a public law legal entity carrying the name “Trifylleion General Hospital of Kythera”.
Later in 1983, the hospital was incorporated in the National Health System (ΕΣΥ with the Greek acronym), that had the responsibility of hiring and paying the medical and nursing personnel, as well as purchasing any medical and technological equipment and incurring the overall cost of running the hospital. Nevertheless, the Trifylleion Foundation as the owner of the premises and the building has never stopped having an interest for the maintenance and improvement of the provided services in respect to the property. Therefore, in the recent past, the Foundation financed the purchase and installation of the central air-conditioning system and the new switchboard. It has also undertaken the responsibility to repair and maintain the roof whenever it is needed. Responding to a request by the Administration of the hospital, the Foundation contributed to the purchase of medico-technological equipment in order for the hospital to overcome bureaucratic delays. Specifically, the Foundation bought on behalf of the hospital a gas analyzer for the laboratory, a portable ventilator and a defibrillator with monitor for dealing with emergencies. The total cost of all this equipment amounted to €45,000. Another request of the hospital’s administration that the Foundation pays the salary of the auxiliary surgeon for the year 2004, was unanimously accepted by the Board of Directors, however this was not finally necessary since the surgeon was fully appointed in the hospital.
Projects and Activities Eligible for Finance by the Trifylleion Foundation
Within its mandate and its financial possibilities, the Trifylleion Foundation Board of Directors sets priorities of the emerging needs for finance, supporting projects and activities executed or promoted by agencies, groups, or individual initiatives that aim at:
• The health care of Kytherians. In accordance with the 1956 Founding Act, the primary objective of the Trifylleion Foundation was the establishment and operation of a hospital in Kythera, and additionally the finance of other social projects on the island. After the hospital became part of the National Health System, the Foundation continues to support the hospital whenever it is called.
• The care of the aged provided mainly at the Nursing Home for the Aged, but it can also be implemented by other extra-institutional actions.
• The support of Kytherian youth in various forms and ways, financing athletic, cultural, voluntary and other activities and initiatives that promote the quality of life of the young people, contributing thus to their smooth integration into modern society, with further beneficial implications on the whole Kytherian population.
• The support, in every possible way, of the Kytherian youth abroad, scoping to get them acquainted with the land of their ancestors and get a real contact with the history and civilization of the island, in ways to awake the consciousness of their Kytherian heritage.
• The development and dissemination of the scientific, cultural and historical aspects of Kythera, as well as the awareness on issues that concern today the Kytherian population. This can be done through studies, conferences, colloquia, lectures, internet or any other available communication means.
• The care and protection of the historical and archaeological monuments and infrastructure and the natural and anthropogenic environment of Kythera.
• The further search for discovering new findings of the archaeological wealth of the island and enriching the knowledge regarding its geophysical status.
Finally, the Trifylleion Foundation provides, gratis and on a permanent basis, office space (separate rooms), secretarial support and payment of all public utilities for the Kytherian Association of Athens, the Society of Kytherian Studies and the Kythera based Kytherian Foundation of Culture and Development.
(Board of Directors Minutes, 515/21.12.2011)
Kytherian Student Housing
Under the Trifylleion Foundation’s donation programme (Board of Directors Decision (515/21.12.2011), providing for “The support of Kytherian youth in various forms and ways, financing athletic, cultural, voluntary and other activities and initiatives that promote the quality of life of the young people” and within its financial possibilities, the Foundation decided to house free of charge a small number of third-level education students, having finished the Kythera Lyceum. For this purpose, it exclusively set aside 3 owned apartments in the Athens district of Kallithea, 75 Rigas Fereos street, occupying the whole third floor of the building.
Eligible for housing are students that cumulatively fulfill the following conditions: 1) at least one their parent was born in Kythera; 2) they have studied in all three grades of the Kytherian Lyceum; and 3) their family income is lower than the officially determined “poverty income” increased by 30%.
Priority is given to the newly accepted at the universities (AEI) and the Technological Institutions (TEI) in the Attica region who can be hosted in the Foundation’s apartments for the period of four years (for departments of five or six years regular studies, the hosting time is analogous), under the condition that their school performance is satisfactory, not creating any delays that may prolong the time of their studies. After the newly accepted are accommodated, students at a more advanced year of study can be housed for a period not exceeding, from the start, the regular time for their studies. Two persons of the same gender have to share each apartment and they have to pay their dues for the utilities and other common expenses of the multiunit building.
The apartments are assigned to the students by signing a free of charge contract with detailed description of the conditions and the obligations of the tenants. In particular, they should live and behave, under penalty of eviction, in ways not disturbing the other tenants and damage the property and the common spaces of the multiunit.
The procedure and the documents to be submitted for the assignment of a place in the Foundation’s apartments is as follows: Every year, after the results of the entrance examination for the third-level education are published and given that apartment space is available, there would be a call for application by eligible students that are interested. Their application should be accompanied with a) Parents’ birth certificate; b) Tax authority clearing of income tax declaration or a document certifying that there is no obligation for the submission of an income tax return due to very low income; and c) certificate from the Lyceum Director that the applicant was a student in all three grades of the Kytherian Lyceum. The submitted applications will be examined by a three-member committee, made up of the Board of Directors members, which would make a recommendation to the full Board for a final decision.
The Social Offering of the Society of Kytherian Ladies
In the last thirty or so years, the Trifylleion Foundation and the Nursing Home have been fortunate to enjoy the continuous, full and mostly silent support of an informal social action and offering group called the “Society of Kytherian Ladies”. This group has as its motto “Love and Affection in our Nursing Home; “Love to our Island”; “Love Among us”, and act collectively, without leaders, methodically, consistently and responsibly, primarily with love. They have contributed a lot to our Foundation, to the Nursing Home, but also to our island.
They have mainly offered their presence, warmth and care to the veterans of life who find a head rest in their old age at our hospitable Nursing Home; a place that the attending care by the members of the Society of Kytherian Ladies makes it even more hospitable. With their female sensitivity, they offer to our elderly the companionship, the gift, the caress and the smile.
The “Society”, in its thirty-year course, has implemented a host of remarkable events and activities. Particular reference should be made of the visits of members in the Nursing Home on the Good Friday; in the prayer organized by the Society in the same place during the Assumption; also the bazaars from the proceeds of which the Society offers gifts to the inmates and the personnel, or the purchase of items of every-day use that elevate the inmates’ quality of life. Finally, the members of the Society took the pioneering initiative to gather Kytherian traditional recipes that it included in a simple but tasteful leaflet.
The Society of Kytherian Ladies started in the autumn of 1980, when Mrs. Koula G. Kassimati threw the idea to Mrs. Cleo Nikiforaki, an active member at the time in the Board of Directors of the Trifylleion Foundation. She really put it into her heart and made it a "Fanfare of Love", as it was rightly called. With this “fanfare” many Kytherian and Philo-Kytherian ladies were mobilized and with a heartwarming eagerness and rich action were helping the Foundation and the Nursing Home.
We will not refer to the names of the members of the Society because we don’t want to violate the largest and noblest principle that the same the Ladies of the Society, with admirable modesty have decided from the start, and governs ever since their actions, i.e. “doing good anonymously and quietly”.
We want however to mention the names of the pioneers of the “Society” who are no longer among us, as a small tribute and gratitude we owe to their memory. They are: Kate Valsamou, Helen Iordanidou, Sofia Kalligeri, Anna Emm. Kalligerou, Litsa G. Kassimati, Maria P. Kassimati, Titsa Th. Kalokairinou, Helen Masselou, Toula Bouloubassi, Nitsa Bouloubassi, Cleo Nikhforaki, Maria Stratigou, Athina Sp. Stratigou, Kiki Pavlaki and Helen Philosophof.
The Board of Directors of the Trifylleion Foundation acknowledges with gratitude the valuable and multidimensional contribution of the “Society” and honors the Ladies. The Foundation hopes that this social offering will continue with the same zeal and the same principles for the years to come.
Gabriel N. Nikiforakis (author of the Greek text).