Alpha Bloomfield Chapter 40
Alpha Chapter No. 40 was established in Detroit, Michigan on February 2, 1924. Twenty-five Americans of Hellenic descent decided to form the first Michigan chapter of the Order of AHEPA. These men were mostly Greek born with some first generation Americans, but all dedicated to the ideals of their Greek heritage. Alpha Chapter rightfully bears the name ‘Mother Lodge of Michigan”.
Meetings were initially held in a free standing building on Davenport Ave., just south of Cass Ave. The chapter quickly grew to an early membership of around 300 members. Prior to the Korean War, the chapter sold the building on Davenport and began meeting above the Delmar Grocery at Monroe and Beaubien.
Later the meetings were held at the Saint Andrews Hall on Congress and Brush. Meetings then moved to the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church on Second Ave. and Six Mile Rd. until the new Saint Nicholas Church was built at the present location at 760 W. Wattles in Troy, Michigan. Alpha Chapter #40 contributed to the purchase of the property where the Saint Nicholas Church now stands.
The Alpha Chapter held many dances and affairs at places in and around Detroit. Members of the Alpha Chapter are responsible for mentoring the formation of other chapters throughout Michigan, such as the Sterling Heights Aegean Chapter.
In 1928, during the National Convention in Detroit, Michigan the chapter actively participated in the placement of a marble statue of Demetrius Ypsilanti in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The Demetrius Ypsilanti Statue is located at the corner of Washtenaw Avenue and Cross Street just across from Eastern Michigan University's McKenny Union. The statue was donated to the City of Ypsilanti by the American Hellenic Progressive Association in 1928.
The main function of AHEPA at the time was to get new immigrants naturalized, teach them English, and move them into American society as quickly as possible. Later, AHEPA was involved in funding and awarding scholarships for supporting education programs
Demetrius Ypsilanti (1793-1832) was a field general in the Greek army during the country's struggle for independence from the Ottoman Empire. A highlight of his heroism was his successful defense of the Citadel of Argos in 1824 where, with 220 soldiers, he held the fortress against an army of eight thousand. Having exhausted his provisions, he escaped one night beyond the enemy lines with his entire command, having lost not a single man.
In 1995 the sculpture was restored and re-dedicated, with support from AHEPA. Attending the re-dedication were AHEPA members, as well as representatives from the Ypsilanti Heritage Foundation, U.S. Rep. Lynn Rivers and representatives of the cities of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. During the Second World War, the Order of AHEPA was designated as an official agent to sell United
States War bonds. Alpha chapter #40 sold thousand of dollars worth of War Savings Bonds to help the war effort at that time. Additionally during the war, the chapter made considerable contributions by sending food, clothing, medicine and other supplies to Greece through the Greek War Association.
In August 1948, Alpha Chapter #40 hosted the AHEPA 26th Supreme Convention at the Book Cadillac Hotel in Detroit Michigan. Some of the initiatives taken at this convention included: The establishment of an AHEPA Job Placement Bureau for veterans, Creation of a summer program in Greece for AHEPA Family members between the ages of 18 and 30, Encouraging all colleges and universities to offer Greek language programs, Establishing a Public Relations Committee for the Supreme Lodge, and to Urge the United States to support the demands of the people of Cyprus for the return of the island to Greece.
The chapter has also contributed to the health centers and hospitals in Greece, such as the Evangelismos Hospital in Athens and the AHEPA hospital in Thessaloniki. In 1988, the Order of AHEPA sponsored the Ellis Island commemoration of the immigrants that came to the United States. Several members of the chapter placed bricks with their ancestor’s names that passed through the island. The members also visited the island on AHEPA Day which was designated for Ahepans only.
In 1996 in Atlanta, Georgia, during the Olympic Games, a statue of an ancient runner was placed downtown. Many members placed their names on the bricks on the ground surrounding the statue. The Chapter was instrumental in the planning and funding for erecting a statue of Alexander the Great at Wayne State University, the statue of Hippocrates at the University of Michigan and establishing a Greek Chair for Hellenic Studies at the University of Michigan. The Chapter has also supported the Greek Diocese Camp in Rose City, Michigan, thanks to our members, particularly the Kallis family. Several members of the chapter took part in protests and demonstrations for issues concerning Cyprus, the Patriarchate, FYROMs illegal use of the name Macedonia, etc. that took place in Washington, D.C., New York City, Canada and elsewhere.
The chapter has made considerable contributions to Saint Basil's Academy, Save a Heart and the Cooley's Anemia Foundation. Our own Past Supreme Governor George D. Papageorgiou chaired the National Committee for Cooley’s Anemia back in the 1980’s. Alpha chapter has contributed to several Greek natural disasters such as fires, earthquakes and floods.
Participation and Contributions
Alpha Chapter No. 40 and its members are an active and a strong supporter of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church of Troy, Michigan, the Greek School and the annual Greek OPA Festival. The chapter supports all AHEPA National and District programs. We have hosted National Conventions, several District Conventions, District Mid-Year Family Conferences, AHEPA Tri-District Conferences and Past Supreme Governors, Past District Governors and Past Chapter Presidents Dinners. For many years we have celebrated Christmas and New years at a dinner function.
The chapter has been represented in all National and District Conventions and our members have served on various Committees. For instance, George D. Papageorgiou is a standing member of the Cyprus and Hellenic Affairs Committee and Nick Georges as National AHEPA Chairman for the Kalamata Earthquake Relief. Alpha Chapter has been present at many Congressional Banquets, AHEPA Housing openings, golf outings, Hellenic Independence Day Parades, etc.
The Alpha/Bloomfield Chapter now consists of over 140 registered members plus 10 life members. Our goal is to increase our membership by initiating new members and reinstating old members which number well over 300. The new generation realizes the importance of having a viable organization like the Order of AHEPA. Today, AHEPA brings the ideals of ancient Greece, which includes philanthropy, education, civic responsibility, and family and individual excellence to the community. Monthly meetings are held on the third Tuesday, with an average of 20 members in attendance.
In 2005, the Bloomfield Chapter #135 merged into the Alpha Chapter #40, combining two successful chapters into one. The new chapter name became Alpha/Bloomfield, while keeping the Chapter #40 designation.
The Bloomfield Chapter #135 was organized by Socrates V. Sekles and Sam Pappas in 1927. The chapter was originally named Sekles #135 and Mr. Sekles served as the chapter’s first President. Most members attended the old St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Pontiac. The Sekles Chapter sponsored the Greek War Relief Drive and it was very active in the Victory Bond Drives. Socrates V. Sekles also served as District Governor, Supreme Governor, Chairman of the Supreme Board of Trustees, and Chairman of the first National Convention in Athens, Greece in 1965. Later the church moved to its present location in Bloomfield Township.
The following members of the Alpha Chapter served as District and National Officers: Supreme Vice-President: Alexander Perry. Supreme Governors: Nick Georges, Perry Kallis and George Papageorgiou, who was also elected to serve as Chairman of the Supreme Governors in 1986. National Board of Trustees: James Barr and Nick Georges. National AHEPAN of the Year: Nick Georges.
District Governors: Tom Drossos, Nick Georges, George Kourmadas, Tom Litos, Tony Manolias, George Papageorgiou, Elias Papageorgiou, Steven Roumell, Paul Taros, Richard Tervo, George Mortis, and Spiros Zotos. The present and past membership includes a Bishop, several Judges, a State Senator, many university professors, physicians, attorneys, accountants (some CPA’s), engineers, real estate brokers, and owners of various businesses.