VP Trish: PA Fraternal Alliance

On Sunday, October 23, I arrived in Grantville, PA at 11:30 p.m. I had spent the day enjoying the weather and my family, so I started my trip late. I was there to attend the PA Fraternal Alliance meeting. President Kuzma joined me, coming from the Washington DC area.

The Polish Falcons of America is a Member of the Fraternal Societies of Greater Pittsburgh, the state fraternal alliances (in which we are licensed) and the American Fraternal Alliance. These umbrella groups offer not only a sense of camaraderie but more importantly provide information and guidance on regulatory and compliance issues.

The meeting was attended by Members of the Fraternal Societies of Greater Pittsburgh, the Northeastern PA Fraternals and also the Philadelphia Fraternals. The meetings began at 9:00 on Monday morning following breakfast. The day was spent listening to various speakers and taking part in a memorial service for Members of our fraternals who had passed away during the last year.

A banquet was held that evening with main speaker Joseph Annotti, President & CEO of the American Fraternal Alliance (formerly the National Fraternal Congress of America). Joe’s main focus is always solvency, relevance and governance. He talked much about the lack of knowledge of the fraternal system including ignorance from our own Members. One of our main problems is that our Members purchase memberships from fraternals and insurance from the big guys. In order for us to survive, this needs to change.

During this meeting, the Fraternalist of the Year from PA was honored. Most of the societies chose a Fraternalist of the Year from within, then the recipient is nominated at the state levels as well. This year’s recipient is a Member of the Greater Beneficial Union. Another award given is the John Jordan Upchurch award (Upchurch started the fraternal system). This award is given to a Member of any of the participating societies who has contributed tremendously to the fraternal cause.

The new Officers were also installed. I was installed as a Director for the next two years. This is an honor and a privilege for the Polish Falcons, as well as for me.

Tuesday morning, we heard from Steve Johnson, the Deputy Insurance Commissioner for the state of PA. Steve is a friend of the fraternal system, but is frustrated by some of our practices. One of the things Steve talked about was the governance issues within our organizations. His suggestion is that we require minimum qualifications of our management team, including the Board of Directors. Officers being elected due to their hospitality room is not a good idea. With that being said, please think long and hard about who you nominate from your District to serve on the National Board of Directors. Please keep in mind, these people are sitting on the board of a 60+ million dollar corporation and need to be business savvy.

Katie's baby, David Fernance!


The weather was once again gorgeous, so I was able to enjoy the scenery as I drove home that afternoon. On my way home, I chatted with Katie Choromanski in the hospital, getting ready to give birth to her son, David. Even though she arrived at the hospital on Monday, he wasn’t born until Wednesday evening, weighing in at 6 lbs. 14 ozs. Both of her parents, Joe & Lori, as well as David’s daddy and his Mom were able to share the experience with Katie. Congratulations to all.

My grandson Ryan will be able to go to camp with David. How cool is that?

VP Trish: Ryan’s Birth!

At 4:55 a.m. on Thursday, September 15, my son, James, his girlfriend, Jaylyn, her parents (Jay & Lori) and I arrived at Washington Hospital. This was the day that my new grandson, Ryan James would greet us.

Jaylyn was set up in a birthing suite (this was a totally new concept to me since my sons are 35 and 33 years old).

The day began with excitement and anticipation.

By 9:00, contractions were two minutes apart and quite intense. Then, they gave Jaylyn an epidural which eased the pain but also slowed the contractions. We were permitted as many visitors but only three in the room at a time. The four of us took turns, chatting, trying to distract Jaylyn, napping and watching the clock. Jim felt so bad for the pain that Jaylyn was enduring that he crawled into Jaylyn’s bed and was rubbing her head and her back. He felt pretty useless at this point and was trying to do something, anything to make her feel better. Lori told him to forget about it, there wasn’t much he could do.

Throughout the day, Rochelle (staff Member) and Chris (National Physical Education Director) and I kept sending text messages so they could update the staff as to the progress of the day.

Finally, at 3:00, Jaylyn was dilated to a 10 and it was time for the pushing to begin. At this time, I realized that I got to stay and witness the birth!

Lori was on Jaylyn’s left and Jim was on her right. Jim’s nose kept running so initially, I supplied him with tissues. Eventually, I got to wipe Jim’s nose and then wipe the sweat and tears from Jaylyn. But, I was a tad queasy and struggling to be in the room. I looked over at Lori and she was also pasty white. She came over for a drink and commented that she was having hot flashes. I gently told her that neither one of us was having a hot flash, we were both simply nauseous. I sent out a text to my friend, Joe, and he gently reminded me that I could not bail and that I wanted to do this.

Jaylyn was quite the trooper and had to push for only 45 minutes (easy for me to say!). Ryan wasn’t quite ready to leave his comfy environment so it took a bit for the doctor to get him out. By the time, this beautiful little boy emerged; all four of us were in tears. The doctor showed him to Jaylyn, asked who was going to cut the cord. I said Jim; he said, “I can’t.” I then asked Lori; she shook her head so the doctor handed me the scissors and showed me where to cut. They then took Ryan over to be weighed and measured. Ryan weighed an even 8 pounds and was 20 inches long. Lori stayed with Jaylyn and I went over with Jim. I was in awe as I watched the nurse clean Ryan and wrap him in a blanket. The nurse then handed him over to his anxiously awaiting dad to hold for the first time. Jim took him over to show him to Jaylyn again. I was dying and asked if I could hold Ryan and of course, Jaylyn said yes. I got to hold this new bundle of joy when he was only minutes old!

Giving birth and witnessing a birth are two totally different experiences and I have to say that I am a very fortunate Mom-in-law in that Jaylyn was happy to have me in the delivery room with them. After a couple days in the hospital, Ryan came home.

Jim, Jaylyn, and Ryan live with me and I have to tell you that I am so enjoying having this new baby in my home to enjoy. It is wonderful to come home and spend time with this new little guy!