AHEPA Commends Hellenic Caucus Initiative to Restore Funding for the American Greek Service, Voices Concerns in Written Testimony to House Panel

WASHINGTON, DC (June 17, 2009) -The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), a leading association for the nation's three million American citizens of Greek ancestry, and countless Philhellenes, commends the initiative of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues to generate the support of their colleagues to restore $500,000 in federal funding for the Voice of America Greek Service for Fiscal Year 2010. Ten members of the Hellenic Caucus, led by Co-Chairs Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Gus M. Bilirakis (R-FL), signed a letter sent yesterday to House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), and Ranking Member Kay Granger (R-TX), requesting the restoration of the program's funding.

"The Greek Service is extremely crucial to the American Hellenic community and to the United States' interests in the Eastern Mediterranean and Balkans," said National President Ike Gulas. "It plays a significant role in communicating an accurate message to a part of the world that is situated on the doorsteps of the Middle East and the Balkans."

He added, "We thank the leadership of the Hellenic Caucus for spearheading this initiative. Furthermore, we commend the Hellenic Caucus members who voiced their concern about the elimination of the program. The community is grateful."

In addition to Hellenic Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Maloney and Bilirakis, Subcommittee on Europe Chairman Robert Wexler (D-FL), Reps. Zack Space (D-OH), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Henry Brown, Jr. (R-SC), Dina Titus (D-NV), and Suzanne Kosmas (D-FL) co-signed the letter.

In March 2009, Gulas submitted written testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, requesting the federal government restore FY10 funding for the Voice of America Greek Service. The testimony has been entered into the Public Record.

"The Greek Service is constantly targeted for elimination and that just doesn't make sense," added Gulas, who said the TV broadcast portion receives a 4.5% viewer rating in Greece, and that combined with radio and the Internet, the Service is viewed or heard by one million persons. Ratings for Cyprus are unable to be surveyed due to improper funding. "It makes it extremely difficult for the Greek Service to plan for the future, secure syndicates overseas, and keep staff when its future is uncertain."

The last two fiscal years, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs has restored funding for the Greek Service under Rep. Lowey's chairmanship.

"We look to the Chairwoman’s leadership again this year to correct this budget shortfall," said Gulas. "We deeply appreciate her previous support for this government program."

To view AHEPA's testimony, and a copy of the House letter, please visit www.ahepa.org/mainnews.

(Posting date 31 July 2009)

The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) is the largest and oldest American-based, Greek heritage grassroots membership organization. Its scope is international with chapters in the United States, Canada, Greece, and Cyprus, and "sister" chapters in Australia and New Zealand under the auspices of AHEPA Australasia. AHEPA was founded on July 26, 1922 in response to the evils of bigotry and racism that emerged in early 20th century American society. It also helped Greek immigrants assimilate into society. Today, AHEPA brings the ideals of ancient Greece, which includes philanthropy, education, civic responsibility, and family and individual excellence to the community. The AHEPA family consists of four organizations: AHEPA, Daughters of Penelope, Sons of Pericles and Maids of Athena. For more information about the organization or how to join, contact AHEPA Headquarters (202-232-6300) or visit the organization's newly redesigned website at http://www.ahepa.org.

HCS maintains an extensive archives of AHEPA articles and press releases which readers are invited to browse under the AHEPA Family Releases section of the site archives at http://www.helleniccomserve.com/archiveahepa.html.

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