Apostolos Mamatas arrived in America armed with a full scholarship to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But things quickly turned bleak as his funding got delayed, and he had to work odd jobs to live. He slept wherever he could, frequently outside at the port in Boston. A Rotarian working on campus offered him a place to stay until his scholarship was sorted out. Mamatas stayed with the Rotarian, who is now deceased, for four weeks, eventually accompanying him to a Rotary club meeting where members discussed how to help the poor and homeless.
Mamatas knew all about poverty, having grown up in an economically depressed Greece that had been hit hard by World War II and a subsequent civil war. He left that meeting with “mixed feelings of joy, admiration, sadness, and jealousy, because at that time I wasn’t able to be a Rotarian.”
He never forgot the generosity he was shown and helped establish the Rotary Club of Ilioupoli when he returned to Greece in the early 1990s, later joining the Rotary Club of Kifissia-Kefalari when he moved in 2013. Today, he is governor of District 2470. Mamatas remains deeply committed to Rotary’s values. “In this difficult economic period for the Greeks, I consciously chose to join the Paul Harris Society,” he says. “I believe the level of contribution does not matter; everyone offers as much as they can afford.”