ATLANTIC CITY, NJ – The AHEPA 96th Annual Supreme Convention convened July 22-27 at Harrah's Atlantic City, NJ Hotel & Casino and included sessions on the organization’s philanthropic efforts and on the issues facing Greece and Cyprus, elections, the AHEPA 5K Fun Run with Dean Karnazes, World Ultra Marathoner, the Grand Banquet and the awards ceremony.
The recipients of the 2018 AHEPA Hellenism Award were Dr. Spiro Spireas, Sigmapharm Laboratories founder, and Demosthenes Vasiliou, CEO/president, Astra Foods. Both honorees spoke with inspiration about the ideals and meaning of Hellenism and the importance of passing it on to future generations. George Rigos, Founder of the Odyssey Charter School (OCS), received the AHEPA Lifetime Achievement Award, and Dimitri Dandolos, OCS Founder and Immediate Past Board President, received National Ahepan of the Year for 2018.
Video by TNH/Costas Bej.The proceedings of the convention began on Sunday, July 22 and were completed on Friday, July 27 with the participation of over 1,000 members from the United States, Canada, and Europe.
The AHEPA Supreme Lodge is the international governing body of the organization. The Executive Committee of the 2018-19 Supreme Lodge is comprised of: Canadian President Christos Argiriou, Winnipeg, Manitoba; Supreme Vice President James Kokotas, Brooklyn, NY; Supreme Secretary George Horiates, Esq., Moorestown, NJ; Supreme Treasurer George Booras, Danville, CA; and Supreme Counselor Lou G. Atsaves, Esq., Lake Forest, IL; Sons of Pericles National Advisor is Sandy Papadopoulos, Atlanta, GA, and Supreme Athletic Director Chris Atsaves, Glenview, IL.
The nine Supreme Governors are: Region I: Peter Nassos, Stone Mountain, GA; Region II: George Papaspyrou, Riva, MD; Region III: George Karatzia, Morganville, NJ; Region IV: Jack Isaac, New Britain, CT; Region V: Craig Theros, Ann Arbor, MI; Region VI: Peter Lekas, Chicago; Region VII: Nick Dixie, Dallas, TX; Region VIII: Wynn Storton, Palm Desert, CA; and Region X: Phanos Pitiris, Nicosia, Cyprus. Elected to the Executive Committee of the AHEPA Board of Trustees were: Chairman Nicholas A. Karacostas, PSP, Bayside, NY; and Vice Chairman Carl R. Hollister, PSP, Mason, OH.
Newly-elected Supreme President George E. Loucas is a 37-year member of Chapter 480, North Royalton, OH. He has served AHEPA in numerous leadership positions, including most recently, supreme vice president. In addition, Loucas comes from an AHEPA legacy of leaders. His grandfather, George, served as Supreme President in 1959. As supreme president, Loucas’ responsibilities include being the chief executive officer, and principal spokesperson, of the entire AHEPA domain, which includes chapters in the United States, Canada, and Europe.
Loucas, a pharmacist and 3rd generation lawyer, founded Loucas Law in 1995 with a vision of helping families who have suffered catastrophic injuries and wrongful death in the area of complex civil litigation. Loucas is regarded widely as a leader in fighting Drug Overdose Death (Drug OD) cases from prescription painkillers.
AHEPA Family Elections were also held during the convention. Demi Thomas, Ridgewood, NJ, was elected Daughters of Penelope Grand President; Gregory Vourloumis, Atlanta, GA, was elected Sons of Pericles Supreme President; and Tatiana Tsaprailis, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, was elected Maids of Athena Grand President.
His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, in his speech, congratulated the honorees and referred to the work of AHEPA which, as he noted, for almost a century supports and helps the Greek community and Hellenism.
The outgoing AHEPA Supreme President, Carl Hollister, spoke to The National Herald and noted the efforts to provide immediate relief to the regions hit by the devastating fires in Greece.
“We have,” he said, “activated the Emergency Fund and we are in constant contact with the relevant authorities in Greece as well as with U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt so that we find the most appropriate way of using the money and all the goods we will send. Our priority is to help our fellow humans who are suffering so they have shelter, food, and medicine.”
AHEPA's new Supreme President, George E. Loucas, spoke with TNH, thanking the members for the trust they showed him and expressed his conviction for the continuation of the ideals and values of the organization.
“I undertake my new duties,” he said, “with a sense of responsibility. I will make every effort to continue and strengthen the great work that AHEPA has been doing for decades. My first concern is the direct sending of humanitarian aid to the affected areas of Greece. The Greek community deserves many congratulations for the charity they’ve shown once again.”
Dr. Zenon Christodoulou, head of the charitable effort, said that so far AHEPA has raised almost $100,000, a figure that he said would certainly increase as even more people participate which is extremely moving.
“In recent days,” Dr. Christodoulou said, “AHEPA telephone lines as well as our website have been inundated by the calls from everyone asking how they can help.”
Dr. Spiros Spireas wished for God to give strength and courage to the Greek people who, he said, experienced a great tragedy and congratulated AHEPA on raising such a large sum of money for the victims in just a few days.
“AHEPA,” he said, “from the very first day of its foundation until today, is based on the values and ideals of Hellenism and Orthodoxy, and that is why it deserves respect, appreciation, and support from all of us.”
Demosthenes Vasiliou warmly thanked AHEPA for the award and referred to the importance of preserving the Greek heritage. “Family, homeland, and Orthodoxy,” he said, "are the fundamental institutions I have faithfully served all my life. It is the obligation and duty of the new generation to preserve and continue these values with passion and faith.”
Greek-American Republican Congressman from Florida, Gus Bilirakis, congratulated AHEPA on its efforts to defend national interests and thanked the leaders for their close and excellent cooperation.
Angelo Kostarides- President, AHEPA National Housing Corporation, referred to the work being done and handed over a check for $10,000 to the Sons of Pericles and the Maids of Athena.
Sons of Pericles Supreme President Bill Poulos III and Maids of Athena Grand President Sophia Shakolas, warmly thanked the members for their dedication and support.
Saint Basil Academy Board President Evellyn Tsiadis received a $35,000 check from AHEPA Supreme President Carl Hollister for the purchase of a new generator.
“On behalf of the Academy, I express my great thanks to AHEPA for this great donation. At a recent meeting with President Carl Holister, I informed him about the needs of the Academy and he promised me immediate help. Today, with the delivery of this check, AHEPA once again showed how great a charity it is, with members always willing to help whenever they are asked,” Tsiadis said.
Finally, the presenter at the ceremony was the famous comedian Basile Katsikis and Philadelphia's Akrites dance group entertained the guests.