John Levas’ Legacy of Leadership as AHEPA’s Gold Coast Chapter President
A 32 year member of AHEPA (American Hellenic Education Progressive Association) and president of its Gold Coast Chapter 456, District 6 for 18 years, John Levas has stepped down to start a new chapter in his life. He’s trading in the high property taxes of Gold Coast living and the lanes of high traffic on the Long Island Expressway for a calmer, laidback life in the rolling hills of North Carolina. While he’s looking forward to this new journey with the many family and friends he has south of the Mason Dixon Line, his loyalty to AHEPA has no divide. It remains for him a brotherhood of family across all chapters of America, and he will continue to be involved on a more laidback level.
A testimonial dinner was held at the Swan Club in Roslyn, NY. Elections were held and two new officers were added the Executive Board. Chris Pappas, formerly Vice President of the Chapter, is now President. Gus Constantine is the new Vice President. Ted Malgarinos remains treasurer. Michael Georges is Secretary. With AHEPA’s various chapters throughout the country, Gold Coast Chapter 456 is at the forefront, performing its philanthropic service and duty to Hellenic virtues, values and culture. Located just over 20 miles from New York City, Chapter 456 is the largest on Long Island and the second largest in the state of New York. Chapter 456 typically meets the last Wednesday of the month at the Port Washington Yacht Club in Port Washington, NY. The philanthropic committee presents the initiatives to be funded to the Board. These initiatives can be anything from raising money to support cancer patients, struggling families, or veterans to raising funds that get matched to build a gym in a church hall or a library in the community.
John Levas was involved with AHEPA for many years, from the time that his father was president of one of the chapters, to his own initiation as a member, to becoming a leading force of one of the most active chapters. They were the first chapter to raise funds for the fires in Rafina, Greece last year, and organized other chapters to do the same. One of their biggest fundraisers is an annual golf outing with 38 golfers that brings in over $20,000. This year’s signature golf tournament brought in over $23,000, a fundraising initiative that John started 30 years ago, and is still going strong. Another proud accomplishment of his Chapter this year was the purchase of two service dogs for $30,000. Each service dog gets trained and placed with a man or woman who was in the service and suffers from PTSD. His greatest highlight over the years was raising the funds that were needed to build the gym at Archangel Michael in Port Washington. He was able to raise $100K in matching funds a few years back.
John is ready to give over the reign to someone new, and he humbly steps down with the words “change is good.” Having accomplished what he set out to do in his tenure as Chapter president, he believes in the importance of clearing the path to bring in fresh ideas and new perspectives. He went on to say that “while you can’t change my past history, let’s see what someone new can do.” He also gave some sage advice about what it means to make a good president: “You have to listen to your members and the committee recommendations. You can’t be a dictator but an officiator.”
Recently, in a true expression of brotherhood, John received a plaque as a tribute for his years of service from the Order of the AHEPA Chapter #405 at its annual barbecue at the Holy Trinity Church in New Rochelle on June 20.
While it’s a bittersweet moment to say goodbye as president to his beloved chapter, Gold Coast Chapter 456, and the place he called home for many years, this is not the end of his AHEPA journey. He still looks forward to being a Chairman of the Board and an adviser to the Chapter. AHEPA is a brotherhood for life. It’s an extended family that extends across America in various chapters. John looks forward to next year’s conference in Athens, Greece. All of us at NEO wish John a happy and fruitful journey on the next chapter of his life, and we wish to congratulate Chris Pappas on his new leadership role.