When Sotiria Liangis arrived in Canberra nearly 60 years ago with her husband, Angelo, she was 19 and full of energy.
She and her husband worked, saved, built and created. "And the time came where I was ready to [give] help as much as possible to people who need help, without me thinking anything more about just helping them," Mrs Liangis said.
The formidable owner of Liangis Investments said she has never wanted to draw attention to her philanthropic work.
"I said to myself, how proud is this? You've got some people actually see that - forget all about the business, forget all about that - but she's doing something good. And that's really appreciated, an honour," Mrs Liangis said.
Mrs Liangis has been appointed a member of the Order of Australia for significant services to community through philanthropic support initiatives. She had been awarded the Order of Australia medal in 1996.
"Where I came from, my mother used to do exactly the same. If she can help someone, she would help them, without any doubt," she said.
Mrs Liangis said Australia was like a mother with open arms when migrants were arriving in the '50s and '60s. That's how she found it when she arrived with nothing.
"And every single nationality was coming, helping - we [were] building whatever you see today. I try to give something back. And if I can do that, why not? We've been prosperous, we've been healthy. Forget negative people - I don't care about them - but majority, they were talking to us, without speaking the language, they were helping us.
"I appreciate. I really, really appreciate it."
Mrs Liangis has provided support to organisations including the National Portrait Gallery, the Starlight Foundation, St Nicholas Home for the Aged and Koomarri.
Since 2012, Mrs Liangis and her family have donated more than $1.3 million to the Canberra Hospital Foundation.
Mrs Liangis said she had cried when she received a thank-you letter from a woman who participated in the Canberra Hospital's Whole 9 Months program - an initiative to prevent preterm births. Mrs Liangis had provided direct support for the program.
The program led to a 10 per cent drop in the pre-term birth rate in just a year.
"How good is that?" Mrs Liangis said.
Mrs Liangis formed Liangis Investments in 1967. She continues to be involved in every stage of her projects, from reviewing plans to visiting sites - and has no intention to retire.
Speaking to The Canberra Times in her makeshift office at the former Capitol Theatre in Manuka, which is soon to be redeveloped into a hotel and new cinema, Mrs Liangis said she was very emotional to have been recognised in the Australia Day honours list.
"I just cannot possibly express how I really feel inside me," she said.
Mrs Liangis, who will turn 80 this year, has told her son to continue giving money away when she's gone: " I said to my son, John, when I go, you're going to continue. And you're going to give. ... As long as I live, I'm going to continue."
Mrs Liangis said she never tried to be in photographs when she made a donation, and avoided philanthropy's unnecessary attention.
"I don't care about any of that. When I hear, [they want] to thank me, well I go away a little, I cry a little, I come back. What can I say? It's really very emotional," she said.
"If they don't talk about this, I don't care really. I know what I do. I feel good. I write the cheque and I'm smiling. That goes to a good cause - and I can do that.
"How good is that?"