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.
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?