AHEPA’s 87th Annual Grand Banquet

SAN FRANCISCO – The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association , a leading association for the nation’s three million American citizens of Greek heritage, and countless Philhellenes, held its 87th Annual Grand Banquet Friday, July 3, 2009, in San Francisco.

Honors were presented to:

Her Excellency Dora Bakoyannis, foreign minister, Hellenic Republic, who received the AHEPA Pericles Award (Consul General of San Francisco Xenia Stefanidou accepting),

George M. Marcus, accomplished businessman and philanthropist, who received the AHEPA Archbishop Iakovos Humanitarian Award,

Basile Z. Katsikas, entertainer, who received the AHEPA Aristotle Award,

Professor Speros Vyronis, Jr., academic, historian, and author; who received the AHEPA Academy of Achievement Award,

Chris Economides, Jr., Charlotte, N.C., who received the AHEPA Lifetime Achievement Award, and

Dr. Pete Nicholas, Baltimore, Md., who received the Ahepan of the Year Award.

Actor Michael Papajohn, who has had movie roles in Spider-Man, Charlie’s Angels, The Longest Yard, Land of the Lost, Transformers – Revenge of the Fallen, and Terminator 3, served as Master of Ceremonies.

The audience received an eloquent Keynote Address from His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios and remarks from His Excellency Andreas Kakouris, ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the U.S. His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos also participated.

California State Senator Elaine Kontominas Alquist, a member of the Daughters of Penelope, and Rhode Island State Senator Leonidas Raptakis, an Ahepan, were also recognized.

Daughters of Penelope Celebrate 80th Anniversary; Last Founding Member Present

Daughters of Penelope Grand President Barbara Stavis Wolf led in the celebration of the 80th anniversary of the organization. In a special moment, Founding Member of EOS Chapter 1, Effie Choppelas, who is 101, was recognized and received a standing ovation from the audience.

Sons of Pericles Supreme President Demetri Vidalis and Maids of Athena Grand President Stephanie Maniatis recapped their years and provided emotional farewells. For Maniatis, it was the conclusion of her second term as grand president. The Junior Orders also presented $20,000 to Fanoula Gulas, chairperson, AHEPA Cooley’s Anemia Foundation.

Moreover, Nick Stratas, chairman of the board, AHEPA National Housing Corporation presented charitable contributions in excess of $50,000. AHEPA and AHEPA Chapter 145, Denver, also presented $10,000 each to Archbishop Demetrios that goes toward their fulfillment of their Leadership 100 pledges.

AHEPA Family Commended for Work on Visa Waiver Issue, Strengthening Bilateral Relations

Consul General of San Francisco Xenia Stefanidou, who represented the Embassy of Greece and the Foreign Ministry, offered remarks to the AHEPA Family.

“On this occasion, I would like to acknowledge, on behalf of the government of Greece, that the efforts and support of this significant organization have greatly contributed to the substantial progress in the visa issue,” said Stefanidou. “For this development, we are very grateful to the AHEPA family.”

Moreover, she read Her Excellency Dora Bakoyannis’ acceptance letter for the AHEPA Pericles Award.

“I am particularly humbled as this special honor comes from the distinguished members of AHEPA. AHEPA represents millions of Greek Diaspora and has played an admirable role in helping nurture and strengthen the bilateral relations between Greece and the United States,” wrote Foreign Minister Bakoyannis. “As Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece, I would like to express my deep admiration and gratitude for the role your members are playing in promoting our country through their actions and words in the USA. And I would like to reassure you that we in Greece treasure your achievements and take pride in the prosperity of the Greek American community. Indeed each and every AHEPA member is an extraordinary ambassador for Greece.”

Foreign Minister Bakoyannis also commended the Daughters of Penelope as the “driving force” behind the progress of countless Greek-American women.