New Greek TV had the opportunity to interview the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association's Executive Director Basil N. Mossaidis, at their Washington, D.C. headquarters.
AHEPA's goal is to promote Hellenism, Education, Philanthropy, Civic Responsibility and Family and Individual Excellence.
NGTV: What's the mission of AHEPA?
Basil Mossaidis: The mission of AHEPA is very broad in nature, it deals with many historical and cultural challenges today. We emphasize community service through our network of chapters in the United States and Canada. Our chapters have expanded into Greece and Europe. We impact individual's lives in different communities, from feeding the homeless to raising money for veterans. We do a plethora of programs throughout our communities. We promote Hellenism in its purest form, where it is trying to help mankind.
NGTV: How has AHEPA evolved over the years?
Basil Mossaidis: When it originated back in 1922, it was developed to help Americanize the Greek immigrants by teaching them how to be good citizens, through English classes and helping them become active members in their communities. We collected money to help build early churches. Nowadays, 92 years later, we feel our objective is to preserve whatever Hellenism there is in this country. America is a very unique country as it looked to Greece's guiding light when creating democracy. Presidents Jefferson and Franklin looked to Greece to sort of shape the American country. We are very proud of that connection.
NGTV: What are your trends in membership?
Basil Mossaidis: AHEPA does a wonderful job of bringing in new members. We bring in around 1,500 to 2,000 new members a year. Our challenge comes from keeping the new members excited about their membership. Our membership throughout the years is steady, but if you factor in death due to old age, there is a slight decline. This is not unique to AHEPA, it happens in any fraternal organization.
NGTV: How do you attract the new generation of Greek-Americans?
Basil Mossaidis: We try to attract them by offering new programs; mainly scholarships and grants, and also community service programs.
NGTV: How long have you been the Executive Director? What are your goals in this position?
Basil Mossaidis: I have been the Executive Director since 2001. I was their assistant since the early '90's. My goal is to leave the organization in better shape than I found it. Thanks to our members and donors, we are on solid financial footing.
NGTV: Tell us about your Greek background.
Basil Mossaidis: I am a very proud Greek-American, born and raised in Philadelphia of the St. Demetrios community. We are proud to say our church services are still all in Greek; this is emotional more than anything else. It is a challenge in this country to preserve and maintain our language, it's much easier to preserve our culture. I wouldn't be the person I am without my Greek heritage.
NGTV: Are you going to Greece this summer? Where does your family originate from?
Basil Mossaidis: I am, I leave August 13th for two weeks. My mother was born in Athens and my father was born outside of Greece in a Greek region of Romania, but grew up in Athens when all the Greeks came back after the second World War.