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Promoting ancient Hellenic ideals since 1922

“AHEPA is committed to preserving and promoting the principles of HELLENISM, HUMANITY, FREEDOM and DEMOCRACY. It is our mission to educate the communities in which we live on these values.”

What is AHEPA

The mission of the AHEPA Family is to promote Hellenism, Education, Philanthropy, Civic Responsibility, and Family and Individual Excellence. We have many programs and initiatives that can interest you.  If you are interested in joining AHEPA, please feel free to reach out to us.

AHEPA’s History

The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) is one of the largest Hellenic heritage groups in the world and an important community service organization in North America. The AHEPA Family is an umbrella organisation that encompasses four divisions: AHEPA, the men’s division, the Daughters of Penelope, the women’s division, the Sons of Pericles and the Maids of Athena, the youth divisions.

The organisation was founded in Atlanta, Georgia in July 1922. Since then it has borne chapters across the world – Canada, Greece, France, UK, Germany, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Panama, Australia, New Zealand and Cyprus.

On October 28, 1928, AHEPA Supreme President George Philies started the first Canadian Chapter of AHEPA in Toronto.  10 years after that date, AHEPA was coast to coast in Canada and serving the members, society, and leaving an incredible impression in each community in which we were engaged.  Montreal, Ottawa, Belleville, Windsor, Kitchener, London, Hamilton, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Regina, Vancouver, Burnaby, and Victoria.

AHEPA was founded as a fraternity in Atlanta, Georgia following growing attacks on Greek Americans and Greek American businesses by the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and others. Its initial mission was to promote the image of Greeks in America, as­sist them with citizenship and to fight against KKK at­tacks. In the 1960s AHEPA was at the forefront of the civil rights movement, teaming up with B’nai B’rith and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to bring racial justice and equality to America.

With the full assimilation of Greek Americans and the success of the civil rights movement, its mission evolved toward philanthropy, education, and promoting and preserving and honouring the Hellenic identity of the Greek Americans and Greek Canadians.

Today, AHEPA, along with its affiliate organizations the DOP, SOP and MOA is the oldest and largest Greek heritage membership organization in the world, with over 400 chapters in the United States, Canada, Greece, Cyprus, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Turkey, Australia and New Zealand. Its membership comprising both Hellenes and Philhellenes numbers over 20,000.

“AHEPA stands ready to assist and contribute to the ever strengthening bonds between Greece and its diaspora.”

– Supreme President George G. Horiates


An important component of AHEPA’s mission is to create an awareness of the principles of Hellenism to society. These principles include a commitment to humanity, liberty, and democracy, education, philanthropy and individual and family excellence. The preservation and promotion of these ideals is where AHEPA has, and always will be, deeply committed. AHEPA educates the community on these matters through symposia, forums, and conferences.

What is Hellenism?

The word “Hellenism” is derived from the Greek word “Ellinismos” (ελληνισμός). In Greek, Ellinismos has been used to describe the people of Greek lineage and also to describe a set of values for living that were invented by the ancient Greeks. These values became the basis of today’s Western civilization. First appearing in English as Hellenism in 1609, the word came to represent all things related to Greece including a body of humanistic and classical ideals associated with ancient Greece, and includes reason, the pursuit of knowledge and the arts, moderation, and civic responsibility. See the website of the National Hellenic Museum in Chicago.

What is Philotimo?

One of the highest values of Hellenism is Philotimo, the sense of doing what is ‘right’ or dutiful even if it inconveniences or costs you personally to do it. You do it because your sense of doing the right thing out ways the benefit of doing what is more expedient or personally profitable. Doing the right thing brings you respect and admiration from your peers while it honours you and the family to which you belong. It means being honour bound or duty bound. According to the Greek philosopher Thales, one of the Seven Sages of Ancient Greece, “Philotimo to the Greek is like breathing. A Greek is not a Greek without it. He might as well not be alive”.


AHEPA’s commitment to education has been well documented throughout its history. Over $4 million is endowed at the local, district and national levels toward the use of scholarships and a half-million dollars is awarded annually. Thousands of young men and women have benefited as recipients of AHEPA scholarships at these various levels. The most famous recipient, perhaps, is ABC News’ Host of This Week George Stephanopoulos.

The scholarship program at the national level is administered by the AHEPA National Educational Foundation and by the Ahepa Family Charitable Foundation of Canada. It offers scholarships to a wide variety of students. Recipients are: traditional and non-traditional students; seminarians, including those entering Holy Cross Greek School of Theology in the United States and the Toronto Orthodox Theological Academy in Canada; and high school seniors, college and post-graduate students who are looking to become tomorrow’s leaders.

The preservation of Hellenic or Classical Studies programs on college campuses is an important issue for the AHEPA Educational Foundation. A subcommittee of the Foundation, the Hellenic Cultural Commission, actively works to support the study of the Classics at universities. In addition, educational programs such as “Journey to Greece” and Washington Internships are sponsored by the Foundation.


Philanthropy and volunteerism have been pillars of strength for AHEPA. From natural disaster relief to raising funds for the elimination of life-threatening diseases to making significant contributions to our local neighbourhoods, AHEPA is at the forefront of charitable giving.

AHEPA’s philanthropic deeds are evident in the restoration of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island; in the Halls of St. Basil Academy, a childcare facility in Garrison, N.Y.; in the care packages we sent to our troops in cooperation with the USO; and in the building of healthcare facilities in Greece such as the AHEPA Hospital in Thessaloniki, Greece, the AHEPA Wing of the Evangelismos Hospital in Athens, Greece and the Educational Centre of the Shriners Hospital in Montreal, QC, Canada.

During the Greek crisis AHEPA, in association with IOCC has funded the shipment of 10 containers of medical supplies valued at over $10 million to hospitals across Greece and donated over $500,000 to the Apostoli Mission to provide food to needy families in Greece. Yet this only scratches the surface of the numerous philanthropic works of the association. In addition, countless charitable projects are undertaken every year by AHEPA’s chapters and districts. 

Civic Responsibility

Our grassroots has a strong voice. With chapters in every major metropolitan city and in rural areas of North America, AHEPA communicates the positions of the Greek-American and Greek-Canadian communities to elected representatives at the federal, state and provincial, and local levels, as well as to our diplomatic leaders. These issues pertain to Greece, Cyprus, and the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the seat of the spiritual leader of all Orthodox Christians in North and South America.

However, our constituents are also interested in domestic policy areas affecting the philanthropic, civic, and community service-based programs in which they are involved. These positions are based upon our American and Canadian heritage and ideals with the best interest of the United States and Canada in mind.

AHEPA educates its constituents about these issues through seminars and conferences, providing expert panelists from academic institutions, prominent Washington, DC Think-Tank organizations, and the business world. Furthermore, AHEPA keeps a watchful eye on Congress with its Congressional Scorecard, a tool that evaluates each member of Congress on Greek-American issues as well as on the Canadian Parliament.

Family and Individual Excellence

What makes AHEPA unique from other organizations is the creation of the AHEPA Family. Together with three affiliated organizations, the AHEPA Family works as a unit toward the fulfillment of a common mission. Combined, the four organizations have contributed well over a billion dollars to national projects throughout their history.

The Daughters of Penelope was established November 16, 1929 as the Women’s Affiliate of AHEPA. It is the first Greek-American women’s organization in the United States. One of its crowning achievements is Penelope House, a shelter for battered women in Mobile, Alabama. It is the first shelter for battered women and their children in that state.

The Sons of Pericles was established February 3, 1926, and was officially recognized as the Junior Order of AHEPA in 1928. Finally, the Maids of Athena was founded July 5, 1930 as the Junior Women’s Auxiliary of AHEPA. The two youth groups have combined to contribute to such worthy causes as: Muscular Dystrophy, Deborah Heart and Lung Foundation, the Special Olympics, St. Basil Academy and Cooley’s Anemia research among many others.

The Ideals of Ancient Greece Important to All

AHEPA members are proud of the contributions the ancient Greeks gifted to Western Civilization. As Canadians, we share many of the values put forth by them: civic responsibility, philanthropy, education, family and individual excellence, and the ideals of democracy. This is the essence of our heritage. This is the core of our mission.

Moreover, throughout the span of its history, AHEPA has served as a vital vehicle for the progressive development and emergence of American and Canadian citizens of Greek heritage into every facet of society: government, business, education, and the arts. This fulfillment illustrates the promise of the North-American Dream and symbolizes the hard work ethic of our immigrant forbearers who laboured to achieve that dream with the principles of Hellenism rooted deep in their hearts.