AHEPA’s Gold Coast Chapter Decks the Halls for its Annual Gala
Nearly every family has a holiday tradition. Whether it be setting up the tree, going to midnight mass, outdoing last year’s photo, or singing carols, the list can go on and on. For the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association’s District 6 Gold Coast Chapter No. 456, the coming of the holidays means it’s time for their annual Christmas Dinner/Dance fundraiser. This year’s event will be held on December 10th at the North Hills Country Club in Manhasset, NY. Says Chapter President John Levas: “It’s very laid back. Everybody does what they want to do.” Cocktails begin at 6:30pm with dinner to follow. Though 456 is the largest chapter on Long Island and the second largest in the state of New York, Levas says it will be a close-knit affair made up of members and their spouses, visitors from other chapters, and a few non-member friends. He is expecting about 150 attendees.
According to Levas, there is no special planning committee for the event; it’s a product of the chapter coming together as a whole. However, despite throwing a Christmas party every year, he says there’s no pressure to one-up themselves. “It’s usually a carbon copy from year to year,” he explains.
“It’s not like we’re a corporation where you have to improve sales every year. I’ll give you an example. The chapter in New Rochelle is the largest chapter in the state. We’re the second largest. Everybody says to me, ‘don’t you want to become the largest?’ I say ‘no. absolutely not.’ I want to be that small town in Mississippi that nobody bothers with and everybody knows everybody. I’m under the radar. I don’t want to be number one. Let somebody else be number one. I’ll be number two and nobody will bother me. That’s the way I look at it,” he says with a laugh.
Besides the Christmas party, Chapter 456 holds several other events throughout the year. They have monthly meetings, a golf outing, a shotgun tournament where competitors shoot at clay pigeons, and a Texas Hold ‘Em night, to name a few. When asked what event he likes best, Levas responds in true politician fashion. “I like them all. I’m the president so I’ve got to be impartial to all of them. But I do like them all and I do attend them all.”
Levas may be impartial when it comes to his chapter’s events, but there’s no question what his favorite part of the Christmas gala is: “no speeches.” He adds, “Everybody gets together for the holidays. We used to do it on a Friday or a Saturday night and we found that doing it during the week it was more enjoyable because everybody got together. Usually it’s family time on the weekends. It’s a way that everybody can just really mingle and have a good time throughout the whole evening without having to sit there listening to speeches and applauding all night long.”
He credits the relaxed, speech-free atmosphere of the event for its success, adding that most attendees stay late into the night. “You go there, you have your cocktails, you have your appetizers, you have your sit-down dinner, and then you dance the night away,” he says. And as for next year? Levas and his chapter plan to do the whole thing over again. “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, right?” he says with a laugh.
AHEPA’s mission is to promote Hellenism, Education, Philanthropy, Civic Responsibility, Family and Individual Excellence. It was founded in 1922 in Atlanta, Georgia and now has over 20 districts in the United States (most with multiple chapters), as well as in Canada, Greece, and Australia. The organization offers approximately $500,000 in college scholarships every year and past philanthropic deeds have included taking part in the restoration of the Statue of Liberty and sending care packages to troops overseas. Though most members are of Hellenic descent, membership is open to anyone who believes in the organization’s mission statement.
To learn more about AHEPA Chapter 456 or to purchase tickets to the Christmas party, please contact President Levas at AHEPA456@gmail.com. Tickets are $150 in advance or $200 at the door.