NEW YORK – A dynamic group of Greek-Americans have committed themselves to reviving the historic Delta 25 Chapter of the Order of AHEPA in New York.
Planning meetings are underway and recruitment efforts have begun according to newly elected President Argyris S. Argitakos and Vice President Ilias Katsos.
Most of the early chapters established after the order was founded in 1922 were located in the South, because that is where Greek-Americans faced threats from racist groups like the KKK, but the Delphi post was the first in the Northeast.
Past members of the chapter congratulated Argitakis for taking the initiative.
Michael Capous sent the following message: “Argyris, I hope you get the strength and support from your chapter members to make Delphi Chapter the best. In the 1960s Delphi was the largest chapter with 1000 plus members. All the Greek professionals, doctors, lawyers, judges, were proud members…You should be extremely proud,” to have the opportunity lead the Chapter.
Indeed, Argitakis, an Astoria native with roots in Sparta who is an executive in the construction industry, reveres the tradition he is charged with upholding, as is Katsos, but the new leaders are focused on the future as they have the means to turn Delphi into a powerful social, cultural, philanthropic, and networking force in the community.
When Argitakis joined the chapter in 2012 its inactivity prompted him to recruit a core group of people interested in what AHEPA does.
Everyone is looking forward to January 19, 2016. That is the date of the big new member initiation ceremony at Gallagher’s Steakhouse in Manhattan.
“The venue was donated to us by Dean Poll, president of the Cathedral Board. His father James Poll was a past president of Delphi. We will also cut a vasilopita. It will be something special,” Argitakos said.
Through the years the chapter met in different locations, including the prestigious New York Athletic Club, to which they will continue to have access. Some of the Chapter’s recent meetings, like one on October 20, were held at Trinity Cathedral, which is becoming its informal home. Dean, Fr. John Vlahos, is its honorary chaplain.
Michael Papaphotes is the Executive. Secretary and Chris Karis is Chapter Treasurer.
Katsos, chairman of the membership and events committee told TNH that the best way to grow the organization is through events and activities that elicit interest in the community, and he gave as examples his initiatives as past Exec. VP of the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce such as celebrations of Oxi and Greek Independence days and the first National Hellenic American Genealogy Conference.
It is also good for the chapter to appear in different places and to hold joint events and cooperation with other leading community organizations, and he added “In New York the community has a lot of top business and cultural leaders” so many kinds of events will be developed.
“It’s all embryonic now, but as we get more member there will be more ideas,” he said.
Katsos was instrumental in the Chapter selecting its next project, the relocation of the Korean War Museum to New York. There will be a Greek pavilion featuring the history of Greeks in Korea and discussions have begun about fundraising events for it.
His is also in the process of founding the East Mediterranean Business and Cultural Alliance, but he decided to make time for AHEPA due to both Argitakis’ enthusiastic personal invitation and what is happening to Hellenism internationally through distorted media coverage.
AHEPA has great appeal to him as the community’s “Anti-Defamation League.”
They will pay special attention to attracting people who would not necessarily have been drawn to the order but would if they knew more about it.