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Celebrating the Season with AHEPA’s Gold Coast Chapter
by Athena Efter
Gold Coast Chapter 456 District 6 of the American Hellenic Education Progressive Association (AHEPA) is kicking off the season with its annual Christmas dinner and fundraiser. The gala will take place on Wednesday, December 12 at the North Hills Country Club in Manhasset, NY. Cocktails begin at 6:30pm, followed by dinner, raffles, and live Greek music by a seven-piece band.
AHEPA was founded in Atlanta, Georgia in 1922 to fight bigotry, hatred and discrimination and to help Greek immigrants assimilate into American society. It is a national organization that now has over 20 districts in the United States (most with multiple chapters), as well as in Canada, Greece, and Australia. AHEPA’s mission is to promote the ancient Hellenic ideals of education, philanthropy, civic responsibility, family and individual excellence through community service and volunteerism. Program areas include athletics, veterans, education, housing, public health, and public policy. 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.
With AHEPA’s various chapters throughout the country, Gold Coast Chapter 456 is at the forefront of those “Golden Greek” chapters, performing its philanthropic service and duty to our 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, and veterans to raising funds that get matched to build a gym in a church hall or a library in the community. President John Levas has been involved with AHEPA for many years, from the days that his father was president of one of the chapter, to his own initiation as a member, and now as president of one of the most active chapters. They were the first chapter to raise funds for the fires in Rafina, Greece, this past summer, and organized other chapters to do the same.
One of their biggest fundraisers is an annual golf outing with 38 golfers that brought in over $20,000. The holiday party on December 12 is expecting 100-150 people and promises to be a great time filled with great raffles, great food, and great music. For John Levas, besides the causes the chapter supports “it’s about the camaraderie and friendships you form for life throughout the world. There’s also a lot of networking.” He insists “it was the Greeks who started the idea of networking. It’s not what you get out of it or put into it. It’s being part of it.”
John has friends in AHEPA for 40 years and what better way to form friendships and network through philanthropic camaraderie? There will be a lot of networking and friendship celebrating at the Christmas party this year. All the local chapters of AHEPA throughout New York State are invited to this fun-filled Christmas party, where fellow Hellenes and friends get together to celebrate their friendships and service to the community.
Board member Paul Macropoulos, who has been involved for 27 years, enthusiastically spoke about the members of the Gold Coast and their president, including all of the AHEPANS nationally and worldwide. For him, it also means “coming together as a community. We all to donate our time to serve, help and raise funds for the community causes that need it most.”
They even make treks into Manhattan to to volunteer at soup kitchens to feed the hungry. As president John Levas pointed out, “We aren’t limited to our scope of service. We meet and decide where it’s needed most. Every chapter does its own thing.” That “thing” is to do the right thing in charitable service – to help the community and those who need it most. Board Member Paul Macropoulos shares this sentiment and gave out a special shout out to John Levas for doing a great job.
While it is the season to be giving, the chapter that keeps on giving has a lot of Holiday cheer and friendships throughout the years to celebrate this Christmas for their continued good work through networking and philanthropic camaraderie. All of us at NEO magazine wish them a Merry Christmas and continued success in their great work.