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AHEPA Celebrates 99th Anniversary and Greece’s Bicentennial with its Annual Convention in Athens
by Stacey Harris-Papaioannou
In celebration of the 99th anniversary of the Order of AHEPA and 91st anniversary of the Daughters of Penelope, (DOP), a truly Greek diaspora convention will come to Athens in July.
Delegates representing the organization to promote the ancient Hellenic ideals of education, philanthropy, civic responsibility, family and individual excellence through community service and volunteerism will meet for their annual convention at a landmark Athens hotel during the week of July 25.
The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) is a fraternal organization founded on July 26, 1922, in Atlanta, Georgia. It was founded to fight for civil rights and against discrimination, bigotry, and hatred felt at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan. Last year’s convention was postponed to this July because of the pandemic.
AHEPA Supreme President George G. Horiates states: “We are very pleased that we will have an in-person convention this year in Greece to celebrate AHEPA’s 99th year, as well as the Bicentennial.” Horiates added: “We encourage everyone within the global community to attend the convention. Not just because Greece needs tourist dollars, but because Greece needs the support of Hellenes throughout the Greek Diaspora to properly celebrate its bicentennial.”
He also noted: “AHEPA’s major undertaking for the bicentennial is to highlight America’s assistance in the Greek revolution and the current state of US and Greek relations.” The July convention will launch the countdown to its 100th Anniversary to be celebrated in 2022. “We’ve been a society under quarantine in this pandemic, yet we have been providing care throughout the world through our AHEPA Capital Cares initiative to combat COVID-19,” said Horiates. “Many of our chapters have been delivering relief throughout our communities—not just in the United States — but in Canada, Greece, Cyprus, and throughout Europe.”
The convention of the Greek diaspora includes its sister organization, the Daughters of Penelope, in its AHEPA family. “We are excited to hold our Supreme Convention in Athens, especially because it is a landmark year for Greece as the nation celebrates the bicentennial of its independence,” Daughters of Penelope Grand President Celia Kachmarski said. “We cannot wait to celebrate in Athens, with the people of Greece and officials of the Greek government. “I commend our Grand Lodge officers, and I am very proud of our worldwide membership, for their perseverance and dedication to our mission during the pandemic. I believe it has made us even stronger as an organization,” Kachmarski told Greek Reporter.
Kachmarski served as Grand President for the 2019-2020 administrative year, after being elected at the 97th Annual AHEPA Supreme Convention, Chicago in 2019. Due to Covid-19 and the cancellation of the 98th AHEPA Family Supreme Convention in Orlando, Florida, Kachmarski remained Grand President for the 2020-2021 year. She has served the DOP for more than five decades and held more than 30 posts with the philanthropic organization.
The week-long convention will include plenary sessions as well as special events hosted at venues in the metropolis including the Athens War Museum, and at the Presidential Palace, to honor President of the Hellenic Republic, Katerina Sakellaropoulou. A very special evening at the Acropolis Museum will see the installation of the new officers as well as a grand banquet and ball to honor Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the President of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades. The US Ambassador to Greece, Geoffrey Pyatt, will be honored at a reception as well.
Other Supreme Convention Honorees include: Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis, Archbishop of Athens and all Greece Ieronymos II, Defense Minister of Greece Nikos Panayiotopoulos, Greek Foreign Minister Nikolaos Dendias, Ambassador of Greece to the United States Alexandra Papadopoulos. Stavros Niarchos Foundation CEO Andreas Dracopoulos and Pfizer CEO Dr. Albert Bourla will also be honored at the gala festivities.
AHEPA’s initial mission was to promote the image of Greeks in America, assist them with citizenship and assimilation into American culture, and combat prejudice. With the full assimilation of Greek Americans, its mission evolved toward philanthropy, education, and promoting and preserving the Hellenic identity. AHEPA is present with more than 400 chapters in Australia, Canada, the Bahamas, Greece, Cyprus, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands and the UK.
The AHEPA Housing Corporation has been awarded over $400 million from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The total number of senior housing complexes stands at 91, with 4,753 units complete, and more in development.
AHEPA also recognizes distinguished achievementns in various categories such as Public Service, Government, Law, Business, Journalism, Science, the Arts, Military Service and Humanitarian.
The Socrates Award recognizes prominent men and women who have emulated ancient Hellenic ideals. This is the most prestigious award AHEPA awards. Among the recipients are US presidents: Joseph Biden-2015, George W. Bush-2002, Bill Clinton-1996, George W. H. Bush-1990, Ronald Regan-1986, Richard Nixon-1971 and Lyndon B. Johnson-1966.
The Daughters of Penelope was the realization of Alexandra Apostolides’ dream. Her desire was to create a woman’s organization and because of her perseverance and the encouragement of her husband Dr. Emanuel Apostolides, a devoted AHEPAN, she formed EOS Chapter#1 with 25 charter members on November 16,1929 in San Francisco, California. She was elected the first Grand President of the organization in 1931.
Much like AHEPA, the Mission of the Daughters of Penelope is to promote Hellenism, Education, Philanthropy, Civic Responsibility, Family and Individual Excellence. Philanthropy and Volunteerism have been pillars throughout the country for the Daughters of Penelope over its many years of existence. From natural disaster relief, to raising funds to eliminate life threatening diseases, to making significant contributions to our local municipalities, the Daughters of Penelope is at the forefront of charitable giving.
The article was first published in Greekreporter.com