On July 26, 1922, AHEPA (American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association) was founded by eight visionary Greek immigrants in Atlanta, Georgia.
The Greek immigrants came together in a fraternal bond to form the Order of AHEPA to combat discrimination, bigotry, and intolerance.
They also wanted to help Greek immigrants assimilate into the mainstream of American society with an emphasis on education and philanthropy and fostering American patriotism and good citizenship.
They were Harry Angelopoulos and his brother John, James Campbell and George Campbell, Nicholas D. Chotas, George A. Polos (who had changed his last name from Nikolopoulos), James Vlass (who had changed his first and last names from Dimitrios Vlassopoulos), and Speros J. Stamos.
All were from the Peloponnese except Vlass, who was from the island of Ithaca, and Polos, who was from Karpenisi in central Greece.
AHEPA helped Greek Americans to “fulfill the American Dream”
In a message marking the occasion, AHEPA’s Supreme President Jimmy Kokotas said that since that initial gathering a hundred years ago, “AHEPA has helped countless Greek Americans pursue and fulfill the American Dream. Throughout its history, it has served as a vital vehicle for the progressive development and emergence of Americans of Greek descent into every facet of society—business, government, education, and the arts.”
Since its founding, AHEPA has chartered more than six hundred chapters worldwide of which more than four hundred currently are active and over one million men have been inducted into the Order. AHEPA’s collective donations to charitable and civic causes have reached $1 billion.
“These contributions to strengthen society are a fine testament to the “can-do” attitude Ahepans bring to each task asked of them,” Kokkotas said.
He paid tribute to its members, who, according to him, historically represented a cross-section of society: from small business owners to titans of industry and from clergymen, veterans and U.S. presidents to world-class athletes and entertainers Hellene and Philhellene, alike.
“Today, the American Hellenic community certainly has arrived to become a woven thread into the fabric of America; an integral piece of the American mosaic, thanks in large part to AHEPA,” Kokkotas added.
AHEPA hosted a centennial celebration
In June, the organization hosted a centennial celebration tribute weekend at Lodge Chapter 1, Atlanta.
Atlanta’s events included the dedication of the AHEPA Founding Monument at the Thalia N. Carlos Hellenic Center, a keynote address by Ahepan Tim Tassopoulos, who is president and chief operating officer of Chick-fil-A; and presentations on early Greeks in America and on the eight founding fathers by Stephen Georgeson and Dr. Victor Polizos, respectively.
Supreme President Jimmy Kokotas and Daughters of Penelope Grand Vice President Georgette Boulegeris unveiled the AHEPA Founding Monument.