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AHEPA’s Gold Coast Chapter Celebrates the Season with its Annual Christmas Dinner/Fundraiser
It is the season for celebrating, from hall decking to gift giving, carol singing to constant eating. And, of course, the annual Christmas Dinner/Dance Fundraiser for the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association’s District 6 Gold Coast Chapter 456. This year’s gala will take place on Wednesday, December 9th. As in previous years, it will be held at the North Hills Country Club in Manhasset, NY. Cocktails begin at 6:30pm with dinner to follow.
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 President John Levas says they are expecting between 150 and 200 attendees. However, despite the big turnout, he isn’t stressed. “The party will be a carbon copy of what we had last year. I’ve been doing everything with this chapter for a long time as president. And, you know, you can do things pretty easily once you’ve gotten accustomed to doing it,” he explains with a laugh.
As always, the evening will include a raffle and live Greek music by Alpha. “Everybody enjoys themselves,” says Levas. “You eat, you drink, you dance, you have a great time.”
The bulk of the attendee list will be made up of AHEPA members and their spouses, but Levas says non-member friends and visitors from other chapters are welcome as well. For those too young to attend, Chapter 456 will be hosting a Children’s Christmas Party on Sunday, December 13th following services at the Archangel Michael Greek Orthodox Church in Port Washington, NY. The invitation has also been extended to the children of Saint Basil Academy, a Greek Orthodox Archdiocese-run home for children in need in Garrison, NY. AHEPA and Saint Basil’s have had a relationship for many years. In the 1950s, AHEPA helped raise money to convert a stable on the property to a boys’ dormitory. In 1962, they helped build a new classroom.
Says Levas, “It’s really nice. This is our second year hosting it. We serve a luncheon for the kids and will probably give out some sort of gift. I just got confirmation the other day that the 13th was finally set in stone. Now that we secured that date it’s just a matter of getting some volunteers to help run it and some donations to help out with expenses.” More than 150 attendees are expected.
Besides the holiday season, the Chapter also hosts a variety of other events throughout the year, such as annual golf outings and poker tournaments. However, the Dinner/Dance remains Levas’s favorite. In the past, he said it was because there aren’t any speeches. When asked if that remains the reason, he says, “Oh, absolutely. Our Christmas party is a true Christmas party where everybody gets together and mingles. We have no speeches. We have announcements and we have a raffle, and that’s it. I don’t do any speeches whatsoever. It’s just easier that way. Everybody enjoys it. I mean, there are times for speeches and times you shouldn’t have them. This is a festive party, it’s a gala party. We don’t want to bore anybody. They’re there that evening to enjoy themselves. Period. Do you want to go to an event and sit there and listen to someone speak for hours and hours? No, it’s not fun. This is fun. We usually have a full house. We do it during the week because the weekends are usually family time. This way you can come to our event on Wednesday night and still spend time with your family on the weekend.”
Chapter member Mike Angeliades, president of M. A. Angeliades, Inc., a major construction company, echoes Levas’s sentiments, saying, “I love being able to get together with my friends and celebrate the year and celebrate Christmas. We all look forward to the meetings once a month, but of course we look forward to the Christmas party most.” Angeliades has been a member for approximately 35 years. “I had a lot of friends in AHEPA. They asked me to join. They opened a chapter in Manhasset, I don’t know how many years ago, and I joined shortly after that,” he explains. “You meet a lot of interesting people through AHEPA. It’s a great non-profit organization and they do a lot of good things.”
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.
Chapter 456 typically meets the last Wednesday of the month at the Port Washington Yacht Club in Port Washington, NY. The next meeting will take place on Wednesday, December 2nd.
To learn more about AHEPA Chapter 456, to purchase tickets to the Christmas party, or to donate to the Children’s Christmas Party, you can contact Chapter President John Levas at AHEPA456@gmail.com.