I am pleased to provide to you this Report on the outcome of our AHEPA DAY AT THE FLORIDA CAPITOL.
We returned from Tallahassee tired but pleased and happy. Everything went very well. It was a great day with a lot of HAPPY Ahepans and Daughters at the end of the day. Our reception by the legislature was amazing. We were welcomed at 8:45 AM by Rep. Dana Young, House Majority Leader, who spoke to the entire group in our conference room. Rep Young was our sponsor and recognized us from the House Floor later in the day saying nice words about AHEPA. This recognition was captured on the official video of the House and we are working to get a 30 second clip for our use. In addition Dr. John Symeonidis was recognized as the “Doctor of the Day” while we were in the House Gallery.
The organizing committee, had prepared a notebook full of materials for our members to use and a schedule of appointments with, time, room number and a bio of the representatives. In addition we had reference materials and talking points for each member. We also prepared a package which was distributed to each of the members that we visited. This package was prepared with the gracious assistance of Andrew Kaffes of National Ahepa. As we stated in our proposal, all expenses for these items were donated by the Lycurgus chapter 12 executive committee.
After a brief introduction in our conference room, we broke up in groups and visited various legislators who in many cases where the representatives from our members home districts. We saw over 20 legislators/aides and of course the entire House Chamber knew we were there because our introduction from the House floor by House Majority Leader Young. Our last visit of the day was to the Senate President’s office where we were once again cordially received. Our day was completed at approximately 3:00 PM. We then had a dinner at a wonderful Greek restaurant to complete our day and celebrate our success.
We were honored and pleased to have with us on this great day a number of Ahepa and Daughters members and officers including: Connie Pilallis, Grand Vice-President; Dimitri Kirkiles, Supreme Governor District 2; Kostas Sofikitis, District Governor District 2; Marina Paras, District Secretary DOP; Mary Denning, Maids Advisor DOP District 2; Lia Fabro, DOP District Advisor; Nicky Stamoulis, Past Grand President; Charles Stamoulis, Past Supreme Governor; John Symeonides, Past District Governor District 2; and a number of other officers and members of Ahepa and DOP, in total about 20 members. Each of whom contributed immeasurably to the presentation of Ahepa and DOP history and accomplishments to the Legislators.
Numerous photographs were taken and many were posted to Facebook throughout the day. In one instance we got about 275 hits within an hour. Some of these pictures can be viewed at the here also numerous individual Facebook pages have pictures taken during the day. You can look on Facebook at Ahepa Family Tampa, Connie Pilallis, Ahepa Day at the Florida Capitol and other Facebook related pages.
This event was a team effort, which included the Lycurgus Chapter 12 executive committee, including myself, Gerry Galovic and Ron Myer, who were the organizers; members of the Citrus District Lodge 2 most importantly, Kostas Sofikitis, District Governor; Connie Pilallis Grand Vice-President DOP; Marina Paras and Lia Fabro of the DOP Lodge. Needless to say the assistance of Rep. Young and her staff were instrumental in securing all of the approvals including having a large conference/committee room for our use throughout the day which made our day more pleasant.
I think this picture illustrates the spirit and the fun we had during this entire day with everyone Involved, working and sharing a wonderful HAPPY experience. As I told everyone at dinner, I was thrilled to see Ahepans and Daughters at work in a joint project and having such fun.
As a consequence we received congratulations from Supreme President Frangos on our success, As well as, Basil Mossaidis, Andrew Kaffes, who promised that we will be on the Ahepa and Daughters National Facebook pages and others.
But most importantly, many of our members are looking forward to next year. South Florida is looking to get a bus and include younger members as well, next year. I believe that we have started a new effort by Ahepa and the Daughters to make our work known and hopefully it will grow and make Ahepa visible to the wider community. As a consequence of this I look forward to future projects, possibly funded by state cultural organizations.
In closing, I would like to thank the District Lodge for giving us this opportunity to create a bold new project for Citrus District 2. I also would like to thank those members of the District Lodge who worked to make this a great success, especially District Governor Kostas Sofikitis. I appreciate the support from our Sisters of the DOP District Lodge, and Connie Pilallis, as well. Thanks to you all for being a great team.
I would like to invite those of you who were unable to participate this year, to become members of the team and help make AHEPA DAY AT THE FLORIDA CAPITOL an even greater success next year. Wishing you all a Happy Easter.
Gus Nick Paras, President
Lycurgus Chapter 12, Citrus District 2
3908 San Miguel
Tampa, Florida 33629