AHEPA’s Supreme President Visits Gold Coast Chapter 456
The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association’s District 6 Gold Coast Chapter 456 welcomed the organization’s newly elected Supreme President earlier this fall. The appearance marked Supreme President Andrew C. Zachariades’s first visit to a chapter since being elected.
Says Chapter President John Levas, “I invited him after the election. The Supreme President usually visits different Chapters throughout the country, but Andrew works in Manhattan and I’ve been friends with him a long time so I said, ‘You know, it would be wonderful if you came to our Chapter as your first visitation’ and he said that he would.” Zachariades attended the meeting at the Port Washington Yacht Club in Port Washington, NY, along with the Supreme Governor of New York and New Jersey, Chris Diamantoukas, and Executive Director Basil Massaidis. “We had quite a few dignitaries there that evening,” says Levas.
The visit was even more special because it marked the first visit of Chapter’s year. Monthly meetings are held 10 months out of the year, September-June. Says Levas, “During July and August the chapters take a break because of the conventions and people that go on vacation and such. So September was the first time that we got back together.”
The convention Levas is referring to is the AHEPA Family Supreme Convention, which took place July 24-29 at the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Levas himself attended, along with five delegates from his chapter. The election that brought Zachariades to power was one of the main events of the gathering. “All the delegates at the convention get to vote for president. It’s the same as electing the president of the United States here. You have a caucus and then candidates are put on the ballot and then all of the delegates get to vote for who they want as Supreme President. They, they tally up the votes and either that night or the next morning they tell everyone who won the election,” he explained.
Zachariades has served AHEPA in numerous leadership positions including most recently supreme vice president. As Supreme President, Zachariades’ responsibilities include being the chief executive officer, and principal spokesperson, of the entire AHEPA domain, which includes the United States, Canada, and chapters in Europe. By day, he is Chief Financial Officer and Controller of FBE Limited LLC, a Wall Street-based investment firm.
At the chapter meeting, Zachariades “outlined what his mission and his goals are for AHEPA, along with what’s going on with St. Nicholas Church at Ground Zero,” says Levas. St. Nicholas is a Greek Orthodox Church in downtown Manhattan that was destroyed on September 11th. AHEPA has been fundraising to help rebuild it. “We had pledged that we would raise $1 million and so far we’re up around $600,000 so there’s only $400,000 to go. Two years ago, AHEPA asked each chapter to ledge $2000 and my chapter fulfilled that pledge and then some. We presented our check to the Supreme President at the Grand Banquet the last night of the convention. I wanted everybody to see the Chapter President giving the donation to the Supreme President. I wanted to get some mileage out of it, that’s why I did it there. If you send it in, they just put you on a list. I wanted everyone to see how much we donated and what a great job my chapter did. So we donated a check and they took some pictures of it and it went into the AHEPA magazine, so that was really nice,” he explains.
Despite the astronomical cost to rebuild the church (last estimates were ~$45 million), Levas says it should be completed within the year, thanks in no small part to the members of AHEPA.
Aside from once-in-a-lifetime projects, like rebuilding St. Nicholas’s, Gold Coast Chapter 456 members are also busy with once-a-year events. As we head into the holiday season, the chapter will be preparing for its annual Christmas party and children’s Christmas party.
The Christmas Dinner/Dance Fundraiser will be held the evening of Wednesday, December 14th at the North Hills Country Club in Manhasset, NY. As always, there will be cocktails and dinner, followed by live music and dancing. Tickets are $150 per person in advance and $200 at the door. Says Levas, “Everyone is welcome to attend. It’s always a great event, always top shelf.”
The Children’s Christmas party will take place after mass on Sunday, December 11th at the Archangel Michael Greek Orthodox Church in Port Washington, NY. As in previous years, the invitation has also been extended to the children of Saint Basil’s Academy, a Greek Orthodox Archdiocese-run home for children in need located nearby in Garrison, NY. “The Gold Coast Chapter sponsors a coffee hour and a lunch. It’s a nice event. We did it for them the past couple of years and so we’re doing it again this year.”
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, the largest chapter in Long Island and second largest in the state of New York, typically meets the first Wednesday of the month at the Port Washington Yacht Club in Port Washington, NY.
To learn more about AHEPA Chapter 456, to purchase tickets to the Christmas party, or to donate to the Children’s Christmas Party, contact Chapter President John Levas at AHEPA456@gmail.com.