ALLENTOWN, PA – Dr. Michael Billys of AHEPA Chapter #64 was awarded Ahepan of the Year, the District’s highest honor, at the Pennsylvania State AHEPA District 4 Convention held virtually for the first time on June 20. Past District Governor Charles Mackenzie noted that this award given to Dr. Billys was “in recognition of outstanding leadership, and devoted services, as well as his unselfish contributions, toward the advancement of the programs and progress of the Order of AHEPA.”
Dr. Billys has served his community as a motivational speaker, public school special education professional teacher/facilitator and family/individual psychotherapist. He is a graduate of both Hellenic College and the Holy Cross Theological School. From his early years growing up in Reading, PA, Dr. Billys has been directly involved in the Greek Orthodox community. Serving as an altar boy he also joined both GOYA and the Sons of Pericles in his youth. From high school, he then matriculated immediately to the Greek Orthodox Seminary. After serving as Youth Director for the Chicago Diocese of the Archdiocese for five years, Dr. Billys moved back to PA where he taught Emotional and Learning Support in the Harrisburg School District for 28 years. Dr. Billys then became a family and individual mobile therapist working for the Youth Advocate Programs, Inc. of Pennsylvania serving the many diagnosed at-risk children including many on the autistic spectrum of diagnosis. Dr. Billys is recently retired having served in this capacity for 15 years.
Dr. Billys has been an AHEPAN for over 40 years and has been re-elected Pennsylvania District Marshal for the third consecutive time. He is widely known for his almost daily emails to his Chapter #64 brethren, as well as District #4 Lodge members and various Supreme Lodge members. Dr. Billys spearheaded two Mass Initiations at his Chapter #64 the last two years where past Supreme President George Loucas and current Supreme President George Horiates both attended and initiated a total of 30 new members to the AHEPA Chapter #64. This accomplishment was an instrumental achievement that has inspired the many philanthropic and charitable contributions by Chapter #64 both nationally and locally in the Harrisburg community led by Dr. Billys.
The membership list increased from 40 members to 105 over the last four years. Dr. Billys organized and was directly responsible for the many programs of Chapter #64 which included Dinner-Meetings, Mass Initiation Ceremony-Banquets, Commemorations at the Pennsylvania State Capital for Greek Independence Day, AHEPA Day/Memorial Day Commemorations, Opa Cards Fundraisers, and he was an integral member of the Scholarship presentations.
Dr. Billys also spearheaded the Service Dogs for Warriors project this past year when $15,000 was collected to sponsor a dog in honor of Chapter #64’s beloved brother, the late John Sempeles. Chapter #64 collected $6,000 for this cause under Dr. Billys promotions collected the most funds for the National Service-Dogs Foundation of AHEPA. When asked what his greatest achievement for AHEPA has been in his career, Dr. Billys referred back to 1979 when he participated in a cross-country trek on bicycles with a group of six Greek-Americans educating the Greek communities along the way about Thalassemia (Cooley’s Anemia). This project was directly sponsored by the National Cooley’s Anemia Foundation of AHEPA and the Philoptochos Society of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. Dr. Billys was awarded a Certificate of Achievement at the Supreme Convention in San Francisco and has been motivated to help the underprivileged and disadvantaged throughout his longstanding career of genuine service.
Past District Governor Charles Mackenzie also awarded Chapter of the Year to Chapter #64 of Harrisburg at the District Convention. Chapter President Christ Megoulas accepted this prestigious award, as he along with Dr. Billys, were directly responsible for the increase in membership during this past year while the Mass Initiation Ceremony/Banquet added 20 new members. In terms of charity and philanthropy, after having collected over $8,000 from the John Sempeles memorial contributions and community donations, Chapter #64 was able to give generously to over 20 locations in the Harrisburg/Carlisle areas in Pennsylvania to feed the needy. Chapter #64 is also very involved with its Blood Bank and Thalassemia programs, as well.
The Chapter is proud of the success that the AHEPA Chapter #64 Prokop/Vladyka Scholarship Program has generated by recognizing both College and graduating high school seniors for their academic/civic achievements. Chapter #64 has awarded over $120,000 over the past five years and is expected this 6th year to award close to $30,000 on Sunday, August 2, to over 30 deserving students. Major benefactors John Prokop and his sister, Freda Vladyka, donated over $500,000 for the Chapter #64 Scholarship program, making it a beacon of strength for the granting of scholarships in the Holy Trinity community.