Atlantic City, NJ.- (GreekNewsOnline)
(Banquet Photos: Dimitrios Panagos)
The delegates of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (Order of AHEPA), elected George E. Loucas, Esq., Supreme President at the 96th Annual Supreme Convention, Atlantic City, N.J. Loucas, of Novelty, Ohio, ran unopposed in elections that were held July 26, 2018. Formal installation ceremonies were held the next day.
“It is an honor and privilege to be elected AHEPA Supreme President, and I am humbled to carry the mantle of leadership for our Order,” Loucas said. “My sincere appreciation is given to the convention delegates who placed their love, support and trust in me to lead this remarkable organization in the coming year.”
“The need to provide community service and humanitarian assistance is ongoing, both in the United States and abroad, as we have witnessed with the deadly and devastating wildfires in Greece,” Loucas said, adding he will head to Greece in September to assess how best to provide assistance to the victims. “I am eager to work with our AHEPA family, and the diaspora, to address this crisis, as well as other challenges that may come our way.”
He added, “Separately, the promotion of Hellenic ideals will always be a priority for AHEPA, and I pledge to keep AHEPA on a steady path set forth by my predecessors with a spirit that is true to our mission.”
In his inaugural remarks at the Installation Ceremony, Loucas reminded those in attendance to not forgot their history and that everyone is a legacy charged with carrying the mantle of heritage. “It [History] helps to guide us for what we do today and for our future as we, AHEPA, approach 100 years of existence,” he said.
Loucas is a 37-year member of Chapter 480, North Royalton, Ohio. 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’s 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. He is regarded widely as a leader in fighting Drug Overdose Death (Drug OD) cases from prescription painkillers. Loucas is a graduate of the Cleveland Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University, where he received his Juris Doctor degree, and West Virginia University where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy. George became a Registered Pharmacist and worked in the pharmaceutical industry while attending law school.
The 2018-19 Supreme Lodge
The AHEPA Supreme Lodge is the international governing body of the organization.
In addition to Supreme President Loucas, the Executive Committee of the 2018-19 Supreme Lodge is comprised of: Canadian President Christos Argiriou, Winnipeg, Manitoba; Supreme Vice President James Kokotas, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Supreme Secretary George Horiates, Esq., Moorestown, N.J.; Supreme Treasurer George Booras, Danville, Calif.; and Supreme Counselor Louis G. Atsaves, Esq., Lake Forest, Ill.; Sons of Pericles National Advisor is Sandy Papadopoulos, Atlanta, Ga., and Supreme Athletic Director Chris Atsaves, Glenview, Ill.
The nine Supreme Governors are: Region I: Peter Nassos, Stone Mountain, Ga.; Region II: George Papaspyrou, Riva, Md.; Region III: George Karatzia, Morganville, N.J.; Region IV: Jack Isaac, New Britain, Conn.; Region V: Craig Theros, Ann Arbor, Mich.; Region VI: Peter Lekas, Chicago; Region VII: Nick Dixie, Dallas, Texas; Region VIII: Wynn Storton, Palm Desert, Calif.; and Region X: Phanos Pitiris, Nicosia, Cyprus.
Elected to the Executive Committee of the AHEPA Board of Trustees were: Past Supreme President Nicholas A. Karacostas, Bayside, N.Y., as Board chairman; and Past Supreme Preisdent Carl R. Hollister, Mason, Ohio, as Board vice chairman.
AHEPA Family Elections
The organizations that comprise the AHEPA Family also held elections. Demi Thomas, Ridgewood, N.J., 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.
The Installation Ceremony of newly-elected officers officially concluded the 96th AHEPA Supreme Convention, which began July 23.
The 2019 Supreme Convention will convene the week of June 30, in Chicago, Illinois.
Two prominent Ahepans who are leaders in the community and within their respective professions were honored with the 2018 AHEPA Hellenism Award at the Grand banquet. They were: Demosthenes Vasiliou, CEO/president, Astra Foods; and Dr. Spiro Spireas, founder, Sigmapharm Laboratories. The honorees spoke with inspiration about the ideals and meaning of Hellenism and the importance of passing it on to future generations. They also conveyed appreciation for AHEPA, its mission, and its work in the community.
John Vasilou introduced his father, Demosthenes, stating, “My father is the first in line of people who stand up for Greece and Hellenic ideals.” John called his father his hero and role model.
In acceptance, Demosthenes dedicated the honor to his family, and he conveyed his delight because the award is a recognition of all the great people he has worked with over the years.
He added, “We are here today because we believe in those ideals and that mission. We are here because our parents and ancestors believed in those ideals and the mission. They are the ones that reminded us, time after time, that we carry a very special cargo on our shoulders–Hellenism. Never lose it, they said. And make sure you pass it along to your kids. And share and give its fruits to this precious land they were lucky enough to come to and raise our families.”
Then-Supreme Treasurer George Horiates, Esq., introduced Dr. Spireas. He described the honoree as a prominent member of the Omogenia with immense passion and a self-accomplished entrepreneur. “We are the beneficiaries of your excellence,” Horiates said.
In acceptance, Dr. Spireas stated the award is “very dear to my heart because it is a Hellenism Award.”
“The word Hellenism moves me,” he said. “It’s not Greece exactly; not Greeks exactly. Hellenism is an idea. And idea of enlightenment and civilization; of love toward country and to live and die with freedom…Hellenism is doing the right thing, the philanthropy, without anyone wanting to know…Giving from the heart without wanting anyone to know is a great thing. This is what builds civilizations.”
Dr. Spireas also noted that AHEPA has achieved a lot in the spirit of Hellenism, and he also spoke admirably about philhellenes and the hard work ethic they have brought to the community.
Banquet Program Highlights
Ahepan Basile Katsikis (Basile the Comedian) served as Master of Ceremonies in colorful fashion. Executive Director Basil N. Mossaidis provided greetings. The banquet program featured speakers who expressed their thanks to AHEPA for its assistance and effectiveness as an organization during its 96 years.
The audience received inspirational remarks from His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Geron of America, who conveyed the love and prayers of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and shared greetings from His Eminence Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey. His Eminence also noted this is the 19th consecutive year he has joined the AHEPA family at its annual meeting. In addition, His Eminence shared a moment with all AHEPA past supreme presidents and DOP past grand presidents in the audience, taking a photo with each group.
Congressman Bilirakis, co-chair, Congressional Hellenic Caucus and the Congressional Hellenic Israeli Alliance, offered a timely speech about how the community’s policy priorities are advancing through Congress. He also spoke of the merits of AHEPA’s work with providing service dogs for veterans.
“You have saved a veteran’s life by giving him a service dog,” Bilirakis said, adding, “AHEPA is incredible…$50,000 for wildfires…always there for Hellenes and Philhellenes, and that’s what I love about the organization.”
In addition, AHEPA family leaders offered farewell remarks as their terms in office came to close. They included: Supreme President Carl R. Hollister, Daughters of Penelope Grand President Eva Jean Fomalont, Sons of Pericles Supreme President Bill Poulos III, and Maids of Athena Grand President Sophia Shakolas.
Hollister remarked about the broad scope of AHEPA’s community service program and marveled at the difference they make in people’s lives. He also spoke appreciatively about those who helped and supported him on his journey during the past year and all throughout his service in the Order. He also concluded, “We are one organization. We do real work. We accomplish real missions.”
Also, during the evening, the Pontian Society of Philadelphia entertained the audience with traditional dances with many individuals from the crowd joining in.
Philanthropy on Full Display, Ahepans Receive Accolades
During the course of the evening, tens of thousands of dollars in grants or donations wereannounced by AHEPA family entities to worthy causes, including by Supreme President Carl Hollister. He presented Archbishop Demetrios and Saint Basil Academy Board President Evellyn Tsiadis with a $33,000 donation for a new furnace generator at the Academy.
AHEPA National Housing Corporation (ANHC) President Angelo Kostarides announced a series of grants, including a $15,000 donation to sponsor its first service dog for a veteran to be named, “Nick S.” in honor of two stalwarts of AHEPA’s Housing Program, former Chairman Emeritus Nick Stratas, who passed away in March; and Past Supreme President and former AHEPA Management Company President/CEO Nick Smyrnis. Kostarides also announced grants of $10,000 each to the Sons of Pericles and Maids of Athena, $2,000 to support the Daughters of Penelope “Salute to Women” program, and $60,000 to support The Ahepan.
In addition, then Maids of Athena Grand President Shakolas announced a series of donations: $13,000 to Saint Basil Academy, $6,000 to the Cyprus Children’s Fund; and $1,000 for Greece wildfires relief.
Moreover, Supreme President Hollister oversaw the presentation of AHEPA National Awards, including:
AHEPA Lifetime Achievement Award – Brother George Righos, Wilmington, Del., who is a founder of Odyssey Charter School
2018 Ahepan of the Year – Brother Dimitri Dandolos, Wilmington, Del., who is also a founder of Odyssey Charter School and its immediate past board president
2018 District of the Year – Empire District 6, New York
2018 Chapter of the Year – Alexander the Great Chapter 29, Houston, Texas