Two Members of the Polish Falcons of America have been recognized by the Am-Pol Eagle as 2012 Citizens of Year. Click here to visit the Am-Pol Eagle website.
2012 Individual in Organization – Stephen Flor
Brandon Kilijanski, Am-Pol Eagle
Tue, Apr 30, 2013
Stephen Flor has amazing time management skills. Not only does he serve as the national director for the Polish American Congress Western New York Division, he also serves as the vice president of the Rochester Polonia Civic Center, Inc., an organizational delegate of the Polish Falcons of America District IX, and district secretary for the Polish National Alliance. Not to mention he also works full time as a project manager for a Central New York general contractor. For his efforts, he has been named a Citizen of the Year for an Individual in an Organization.
“I am honored to win this award,” said Flor. “It’s also an honor for the organizations that I work for.”
Flor was born and raised within Rochester’s Polish-American community. He attended St. Stanislaus School and served as an altar boy as a child. Later, he became chairman of the St. Stanislaus Parish Council. He is also a member of the Polish American Citizens Club and Polish Heritage Society.
“It’s a sense of helping and serving the community,” said Flor. “It’s not just the satisfaction of knowing you are able to do something. It’s the satisfaction of keeping the community together and alive. It’s such a tight knit community.”
Flor is the great-grandson of one of Rochester’s original Polish settlers in 1887. His grandmother, who was born in the 1890s, is said to remember there being a dirt road and wooden sidewalks on Hudson Ave., in Rochester.
“I have always been proud of that,” said Flor. “As one of the first five Polish families in the city, their communication began a sense of extended family. It was always something that I was aware of growing up.”
For all of his services, Flor has been awarded with the Krzyz Zaslugi, Merit Cross of the Polish Army Veterans Association of America, as well as the Srebrny Krzyz Zaslugi, Silver Merit Cross of the Polish Government-In-Exile, London, England.
But one of his greatest achievements came in 2011. Flor introduced an unanimously approved resolution by the PACWNY to create and act as the representative of the Polish American Congress on the International Joint Committee for Camp Kosciuszko at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Historical Military Site and Cemetery. Later, he was appointed by the PAC to represent the organization with the Canadian-Polish Congress in matters regarding the honor and preservation of the site.
“It is a sense of being able to heighten public awareness so Polish people know there is a contribution to preserve their ancestors,” said Flor. “Can you think of any other demonstration like this in magnitude? There is the satisfaction that the younger generation can honor their ancestors and heritage, and give them a sense of pride.”
Flor’s work in the Polish-American community has always been very extensive. He said that he hopes all of his work will give the incentive to someone else to step up and also help out.
“If I don’t do it, maybe nobody else will,” said Flor of all his work. “It’s a lot of time, it could even be all of my free time, but it’s a priority to serve my heritage.”
2012 Humanitarian – Lisa Florczak
Brandon Kilijanski, Am-Pol Eagle
Tue, Apr 30, 2013
In 2005, Florczak was in Poland about to officially adopt her two new children from Lebork, Victoria and Nicholas, who are biological siblings. She was with another American couple who was also adopting, and the woman said to Florczak that they were humanitarians. Florczak admitted that at the time, she thought the woman was a little crazy, but after some reflecting she finally understood.
“I thought no way,” said Florczak. “But now I see the work I’ve done to help children, and I now see how I’m a humanitarian. I’m not a doctor, but I saved their lives. I didn’t give birth to my children, but I did give them their lives.”
Since 2010, Florczak has been a volunteer worker for Huminska’s Anioly, Inc. (Huminski’s Angels, Inc.), which is the adoption service that she went through for her children. She sees herself as a catalyst to get the adoption process started for a family going through Huminska’s. Florczak gets the word out about the organization, and facilitates families to begin the adoption process through the organization.
For the past four years, Florczak has set up an information booth at the Broadway Market during Easter Week about the organization to talk about the adoption process. In 2010 and 2011, Florczak also helped planning and presenting local seminars on behalf of the organization.
Since Florczak adopted her two children, there have been eight other children adopted through the agency in Buffalo. Overall, Huminski’s Angels, Inc. has helped more than 1,200 children become adopted from Poland to live in America.
“The first year is very difficult with the language and behavior barrier,” said Florczak about adopting a foreign child. “It’s like going 60 miles-per-hour into a brick wall the first year. But now, I can’t even imagine my life without my children.”
Besides her work with the adoption agency, Florczak is also heavily involved within the Polish-American community. She has been a volunteer instructor for the Harmony Polish Folk Ensemble since 2007, and has also been a member of the Polish Falcons of America Nest 6 for close to 40 years. Florczak began as a Polish folk dancer as a teenager at the Polish Falcons. Since then, she has directed and taught for a countless number of dance groups.
“I love watching the children become more confident being in front of an audience,” she said. “Not only dancing, but also singing and speaking in front of a crowd. It’s amazing to see self-esteem grow in children.”
In 1994, Florczak was able to meet and perform a Polish folk dance for Lech Walesa during the 50th Anniversary Polish American Congress celebration. She was able to take a picture with the Polish President, and the photo appeared in the Polish national newspaper and magazine. Florczak was then dressed in her traditional folk dance outfit for the Wiez Dance Ensemble, which caught the attention of all the photographers at the meet-and-greet session.
“I said in Polish to him, “welcome to America,” and turned and every camera went off because I was in my costume,” said Florczak. “It was the closest thing to being a Hollywood movie star. Being pictured with a world leader in a national newspaper is beyond words and it’s something I can tell my grandchildren about someday.”
Florczak was presented with the 2012 General Pulaski Association Unsung Hero Award for her volunteer work with Huminski’s Angels, Inc.
This is the second time Florczak has received a Citizen of the Year award, the first came in 1995 in the Culture category. She is also a member of the General Pulaski Association and the Polish Cadets.