A Great Start: 2014 Polish American Summit

By Donald Pienkos
Distributed by the Polonia Media Network

Polish Americans are familiar with the saying: “Three Poles Four Political Parties.” This is an acknowledgment of our well known Polish individualism. At the same time it is often stated as a reproach over our seeming inability to agree on how to work together to deal with the issues we face.

With this saying in mind, it is refreshing to share the news about a recent event where not three Americans of Polish heritage, but more than twenty, got together to discuss, and agree on, a number of important, even critical, issues that we face today.

I am writing about the Polish American Leadership Summit meeting that took place on March 11-12, 2014, in Pittsburgh. This gathering was proposed in Chicago back in May, 2013, at the meeting of the Polish American Congress (PAC) Council of National Directors. The idea was to bring together the leaders of the major national organizations of Americans of Polish heritage for the purpose of their sitting down with each other to discuss the central issues we face today as a Polish American community and to adopt an action program that, if followed, will help respond to these issues.

The proposal to hold such a Summit was approved unanimously by the PAC leadership. A coordinating committee headed by Tim Kuzma, President of the Polish Falcons of America (PFA), and including Barbara Anderson of the Washington Office of the PAC and myself, Professor Emeritus Don Pienkos, then went to work to make the proposal a reality.

By December the committee had put together a letter of invitation setting forth the goals of the Summit. Soon the responses began coming in, all of them positive, including one from Poland’s Ambassador to the United States. By the end of February the leaders of nineteen national Polish American organizations had agreed to come, at their own expense, or to send their representative to the Summit. These fine individuals were from every sector of our community, from the fraternals, the educational and academic societies, the Church, from professional associations, cultural organizations, and from our media. They included the Polish-born and the American-born. A true and comprehensive gathering!

For two days the participants sat down together, talked, and listened to one another, all in an atmosphere suffused with a desire to identify the problems our community faces and to find ways to deal with them, together.

Five general themes came up for discussion. The first dealt with finding ways for Polish American organizations to energize the Polish American community and their own memberships by engaging them in our heritage and in so doing strengthening the organizations themselves. A second focused on reaching out more effectively to young people of Polish heritage. A third concerned building coalitions with like-minded people and organizations outside our Polish American community to advance shared interests and goals. A fourth involved finding ways for our community to more effectively work with Poland so as to advance the relationship between our two countries. Fifth, we looked at how our organizations might better “spread the word” in promoting wider awareness and interest in the activities, accomplishments, and causes that Polish Americans and Poland agree are important.

These broad themes all generated a good deal of discussion. As important, they led to the development of more than forty specific and practical resolutions that all agreed would enhance the role of our Polish American organizations in achieving both their particular and their more general aims, all for the good of our entire community. (For the list of these resolutions one is invited to e-mail this writer at or to contact President Kuzma at .

Taking part in the Summit were: Ambassador Ryszard Schnepf, Msgr. Thomas Machalski (Rector, Orchard Lake Seminary), Rev. Walter Ptak (President, Polish American Priests Association), Anna Sokolowska and James Robaczewski (Vice President and National Secretary, respectively, Polish Roman Catholic Union of America fraternal), Irene Jugan (President, Polish National Union of America fraternal), Sharon Zago (Vice President, Polish Women’s Alliance of America fraternal), Deborah Majka (Past President, American Council of Polish Culture), Gregory Fryc (President, Pangea Alliance), Mary Kay Pieski (Director, Kosciuszko Foundation of America), Alexander Fiedotjew (President, National Advocates Society), Thaddeus Radzilowski (Piast Institute and Polish American Historical Association), Ewa Koch (President, Polish Teachers Association), Dorota Andraka (President, Polish Supplementary School Council of America), Nick Sadowski (Vice President, Nowy Dziennik), Jan Saykiewicz (Director, Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America), James Kaczynski (Polish American Journal), Tim Kuzma (President, Polish Falcons of America fraternal), Bozena Kaminska and Anthony Bajdek (Vice Presidents, Polish American Congress), Barbara B. Anderson (Washington Office, PAC), and Don Pienkos (past director, Polish National Alliance fraternal. PNA/PAC President Spula was unable to attend due to circumstance arising at the last moment.

This story began with a Polish saying. Let’s finish with another: “Krakow wasn’t built in a day.”

Yes, what took place in Pittsburgh represented a great start. Now it’s up to everyone, those who participated in the Summit and those who are learning about what happened in Pittsburgh, to do their part to build on the solid foundation that was established just a few months ago.

Together we can do it!

2014 Polish American Summit Participants; Photo by Courtney Caughey-Stambul

2014 Polish American Summit Participants; Photo by Courtney Caughey-Stambul

VP Trish: Nest 6 Ladies Day Luncheon

Former Physical Education Director, Marian Weslowski, invited me to attend a Ladies Day Luncheon a few years ago. I have attended this event several times, including the one held earlier this month. The Ladies Day Luncheon is hosted by former Outstanding Gorecki recipient, Jill Stark of Nest 6 Buffalo, N.Y. I am always so impressed and pleased. Jill is still very active and making a difference. Another Outstanding Gorecki recipient, Megan Stoklosa, is also very involved with this event.

This year, there were 148 women. We had a fabulous lunch, were entertained by The Dolls, offered samples of wine and had a chance to win one of 118 gift baskets (all of which were donated!). The centerpieces and cupcakes were also donated. The cost per person was only $20 which included 21 chances for the drawings, along with door prizes.

Currently, the luncheon is held at the Polish Falcons Club of Depew. They are no longer affiliated with the National Organization, but a very gracious group of people that the Nest 6 Members work with.

I had asked Jill to give me some background information for this blog. Instead of using her words as reference, I decided to just include most of what she had sent to me…

We started the event as a way to get the ladies of the organization together. The more we discussed how to do this, it became obvious that supporting a foundation that is affiliated with Breast Cancer research and support would be the perfect option. From that, Ladies Day Out was ‘born’! Never did I believe that it would grow to be as successful as it was this past year. We started out with space for a maximum of 50 ladies for the first few years at our own clubrooms. Shortly thereafter we moved to another location and once we began to outgrow that restaurant, we were fortunate enough to find an even larger location, which it seems we may grow out of after next year.

It is a lot of work to pull an event like this together but I have an amazing support system consisting of family and friends from Nest 6 Buffalo, N.Y. I cannot thank my mother, Sue Sieczkarek, and my husband, Mark Stark, enough for the time and support the give to this event. There are many long days and late nights when preparing for this event and without their help and support I do not think that Ladies Day Out would have grown to be such a profitable event.

I am proud of the fact that we are able to keep our funds local, for the people of Buffalo. Money raised in the past years has supported the following: Susan G. Komen Foundation, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Hope Chest Dragon Boat Team, The Breast Cancer Network of WNY and The Pink Pillow Project. At one time, we considered ending the event altogether, but the positive feedback from the attendees made us realize how much this support for our community means to them. As you had learned at the event, The Pink Pillow Project donates pillows to any woman going through breast cancer surgery, free of charge. At Ladies Day Out we had three pillows, one for display, one for Nancy Kieler’s presentation and an extra Nancy keeps in her car. By the end of the event, all three pillows were given away to ladies that attended the event and knew someone who was going to be having surgery in the near future! It was sad to learn that so many people needed the pillows, but it was also a good feeling to know that we were immediately able to help out and make a difference.

Congratulations to Jill and the Members of Nest 6, Buffalo! Hopefully next year, Members from other Nests in District IX will join me there. It is always the first Sunday in October. Mark your calendars!

Czolem!

This is an email I received on October 15.

Hello Ladies!

It is official – we presented a check for $2300 to the Pink Pillow Project this evening (our largest donation to date)! This would not have been possible without the love and support from everyone who contributed a donation and attended the event. Every year just keeps getting better and I already cannot wait until October 4, 2015.

Thank you again, from the bottom of my heart.

Jill E. Stark

Certificate reads: The Pink Pillow Project Inc. recognizes with deep gratitude the generosity of POLISH FALCONS NEST 6. Thank you for your donation to and your support of The Pink Pillow Project, Inc. in its mission to assist breast cancer patients.

Certificate reads: The Pink Pillow Project Inc. recognizes with deep gratitude the generosity of POLISH FALCONS NEST 6. Thank you for your donation to and your support of The Pink Pillow Project, Inc. in its mission to assist breast cancer patients.

Donald Tusk heads European Council

Donald Tusk handed in his resignation as Prime Minister to Polish President, Bronislaw Komorowski, ahead of taking up his new job as head of the European Council. On Sept. 11, 2014, it was made official and the ruling coalition’s candidate for premier, Ewa Kopacz, was invited for talks on forming a new government. Under Poland’s constitution, the President nominates a Prime Minister. The Prime Minister-Designate forms a new cabinet, which is then submitted to a vote of confidence in parliament.

Source: Polonia Media Network