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AHEPA Bergen Knights Chapter 285 Hosted the Fifth District Ball

TENAFLY, NJ – On October 16 the Bergen Knights Chapter 285 of the Order of AHEPA hosted the Fifth District Banquet. The event was held at the Saint John the Theologian Cathedral’s social hall in Tenafly, NJ. Over 150 attendees attended from all over the region to celebrate with the local community as well as to hear from Daughters of Penelope (DOP) Grand President Kathy Bizoukas.

Historically, the AHEPA Fifth District, one of the largest in AHEPA with chapters throughout New Jersey and Delaware, hosts its Grand Banquet following the conclusion of the district convention business meetings each spring. This year, although the district held its annual spring business meetings, it was unable to host its banquet due to pandemic restrictions. The formal get-together was an opportunity to celebrate the Tenafly community and its AHEPA chapter’s 90th anniversary.

Daughters of Penelope Grand President Kathy Bizoukas takes a selfie with the Sons of Pericles and Maids of Athena. (Photo: AHEPA)

Chapter President Dr. Demetris Bayiokos welcomed the crowd to the event and turned the microphone over to Master of Ceremonies Constantine Mikelis. Mikelis also leads the AHEPA History website from which the organization has been chronicling its upcoming Centennial. A history of Bergen Knights, and indeed AHEPA throughout Bergen County, was presented to the attendees. According to U.S. Census data, Bergen County has by far the highest concentration of Greek-Americans in the State of New Jersey. From assistance to the local churches in the region to the local efforts such as AHEPA’s World War II war bonds to the Fort Lee Sons of Pericles (SOP), the evening was dedicated to AHEPA’s impact to the region.

Master of Ceremonies Constantine Mikelis at the Bergen Knights AHEPA Chapter 285 event on October 16. (Photo: AHEPA)

A parade of highlights of the district’s programs from its local and and global leaders ensued. Tom Sulich, the chair of the AHEPA Fifth District Cancer Research Foundation, announced that $50,000 would be provided at the Cancer Research Gala on November 6 at the Pines Manor in Edison, NJ. The grants would be going to Fox Chase – Philadelphia, Rutgers Cancer Institute at Robert Wood Johnson in New Brunswick as well as to Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York. District Governor Bob Fourniades spoke on the impressive AHEPA-supported Odyssey Charter School in Wilmington, DE which has been recognized as one of the top schools in the state. George Karatzia spoke on the AHEPA Canines for Wounded Warriors project which originated in this district and has been elevated to a national project with great success. DOP District Governor Dina Fanikos and SOP District Governor Loukas Klentzeris also spoke on their auxiliary organizations and their contributions to AHEPA in the region.

Left to right: AHEPA District 5 Governor Bob Fourniades and Constantine Mikelis. (Photo: AHEPA)

Leaders of AHEPA, DOP and the Maids of Athena (MOA) then spoke at the event. MOA Grand President Mariana Pantelous provided a summary of the history of the young women’s group as well as the current philanthropic projects of the organization. AHEPA Supreme Governor of Region 3 Vassos Chrysanthou spoke of AHEPA’s exhaustive work on Hellenic issues, or what the organization calls Defending Hellenism. He thanked last year’s AHEPA Supreme President George Horiates for his efforts in that regard. Supreme Secretary Savas Tsivicos, on behalf of the Supreme President Jimmy Kokotas, congratulated the Bergen Knights on the success of the event. He also encouraged other chapters to compile their histories as AHEPA celebrates its centennial in 2022. Finally, he welcomed DOP Grand President Kathy Bizoukas, who came from Indiana to mark the occasion.

AHEPA Supreme Secretary Savas Tsivicos. (Photo: AHEPA)

Bizoukas received a standing ovation on her first official visit to the district. She noted that the history of AHEPA and the DOP was one of selfless service to the omogenia. From scholarships and stressing education to other philanthropic causes, she congratulated District 5 for its almost century of contributions. She highlighted the DOP projects including breast cancer awareness and the battle against domestic abuse. AHEPA Cares, a program helping communities and first responders during the pandemic and even today was also highlighted. Finally, as to the organization’s assistance on Hellenic causes for Greece and Cyprus, she noted that women and their vote count just as much as any others. She encouraged continued outreach to benefit Hellenism which is not gender specific, noting that more and more local politicians and even world leaders are women. She concluded with heartfelt congratulations to the Bergen Knights and looks forward to more in-person celebrations this year as AHEPA celebrates in communities throughout the world.

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