Polish Falcons of America is excited to share new “Falcon Fun at Home” activities with our Members during this time. Be sure to check back as we will be posting more soon.
- Special page for kids and their families! Enjoy this collection of fun things for families compiled by PFA. Click here to visit the page.
- Upcoming live Easter workshop! Join PFA Cultural Commissioner Larry Kozlowski on Facebook for an Easter workshop on April 3rd at noon eastern. Like us on Facebook.
- Recipes from the Sokol Polski! Download a PDF of Polish recipes from past issues of the Sokol Polski magazine. Click here for the recipes.
Please share with your family and friends. Czolem!
The Executive Officers, National Directors and staff at Polish Falcons of America National Headquarters are carefully monitoring the evolution of the coronavirus (COVID-19). We are all committed to providing you the highest quality service, while ensuring the health and safety of our employees.
Due to recent actions from the Governor of Pennsylvania, we have taken steps for most of the staff to work remotely. There will be a limited staff in the office to perform the essential services for our Members, while other staff will be working from home. Our goal is to deal with your matters diligently, efficiently and without interruption.
If you call the office, our automated system will answer the call. Please follow the prompts to leave a message and someone will get back to you as soon as possible. Our email and website are fully functioning. All of us are ready to respond to any inquiries received via email or through the website.
We are here for you and well-positioned to help you with your needs, whether it is a new application, change of address or a claim. We believe strongly in providing open communication for the Members and will continue to do so throughout this crisis.
We appreciate your understanding and we thank you for your trust. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you require further information.
Czolem and stay safe!
Timothy L. Kuzma
Statement from Polish Falcons of America National Headquarters Regarding Coronavirus COVID-19
The Polish Falcons of America is carefully monitoring the coronavirus situation and its impact on the entire organization. As a fraternal organization, we recognize that the social interaction of our Members is a critical aspect of the Polish Falcons. Whether it’s a regular Nest meeting, an awards dinner, or just stopping at the Nest for a drink with friends, we all have to be aware we should take measures to reduce personal contact as much as possible.
To that end, we have already decided to cancel the National Volleyball Tournament that was scheduled for the end of March. In addition, the National Bowling Tournament, scheduled for late April, is also cancelled. While the Bowling Tournament is still more than one month away, we based our decision on the latest guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control which is advising that all gatherings of 50 or more in the next eight weeks be cancelled.
We are considering rescheduling both of these events for later this year. National Physical Education Director Christine Puskar and Bowling Manager Janet Knauber have already started looking at options. All entry fees for the Bowling Tournament are 100% refundable. Information regarding refunds will be announced later this week.
As of today, this does not affect any other of our National events scheduled in 2020, especially the National Convention. However, we are closely watching new developments and if anything changes we will certainly let all Members know.
At National Headquarters, as of today there will not be an interruption of our business operations. Almost half the staff will be working remotely until further notice. The Office will remain open for regular business hours. You will still be able to contact the staff and Executive Officers by email and phone. We will be as responsive to our Members’ needs as always.
Nest and District Activities
National Headquarters recommends the following actions be taken by Nests and Districts as it relates to local activities and programs:
- Follow the advice of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines and cancel all activities scheduled with 50 or more people over the next eight weeks.
- Follow all regulations from state, county and local officials regarding any restrictions placed on businesses in your area. States are beginning to limit activities for non-essential businesses, bars and restaurants. We strongly advise everyone to comply with these requirements. Even though there may not be restrictions in place, we still think it advisable to consider closing the Nest voluntarily until further notice.
- For Districts that have important Plenary Meetings scheduled in the near future, we suggest postponing those meetings until a later date. We are also investigating possible alternatives regarding the schedule for these meetings.
- Consider a method to contact members and ascertain their wellbeing.
- Use regular email communications to Members to keep them informed about important news at the Nest or District.
Additional information is available for Members and their families on the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. Keep in mind that the elderly and sick are highly vulnerable to this disease.
Polish Falcons has faced many challenges in its history, and we will get through this as we have done time and again. There will be hardships and sacrifices in the coming weeks, but now is the time to stay true to our dedication to the principles of a fraternal organization where we band together to aid and assist one another.
With all that is happening keep in mind that this is a highly volatile situation and circumstances may change quickly. We will do our best to send notices and keep our Members informed. The best resource is the website, www.polishfalcons.org. As always, if you have any questions or need more information, please contact National Headquarters toll-free at 1-800-535-2071, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Timothy L. Kuzma
January 9, 2020
Happy New Year!
Isn’t it nice how we all start the New Year off with such a positive attitude? Everyone is still feeling the joy of Christmas and every phone call, email, greeting at the store or on the street begins with that Happy New Year! And rightfully so. It’s a great time to be cheerful and optimistic about our lives, our work and our future. But it will inevitably wear off and we will soon be grousing about the cold, the snow—WINTER. That is everyone except those hunkered down in Florida, Arizona, Texas, or anywhere down south. Regardless of the weather or where we live, maybe we can make that good cheer last a while longer. That’s a simple enough resolution.
Patti and I enjoy the Winter. It starts to get to you when Winter won’t let go in March or April, but for the most part we are fine with it. Nothing takes the edge off a blustery January day more than a hot cup of ________ (tea, chocolate, coffee, or something stronger) and a nice warm fire in the hearth. That’s a problem if we are looking for firewood in May, and not for an outdoor firepit.
January is also special for us because this is our anniversary month. This January 4 marked our 28th year of married life. It’s our annual anniversary tradition to go to the Holiday Flower Show at Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh. We had some of our wedding pictures taken there and we have gone back every year with only two exceptions. Below is a photo from 1992 and another from this year’s anniversary. One look at me and it’s not hard to know which year each photo was taken. Patti is another story.
For the Polish Falcons, 2019 ended on a deeply sad note as our Legion of Honor Grand Master, Frania Tracz, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on December 10. I attended the Falcon services at the funeral home and the funeral mass the following day at St. Michael’s Church. I was honored to serve as a pall bearer. It is hard to describe the depth of the sadness of the Members of District V. The time of year, the suddenness had about everyone using the same word—Unbelieveable. Druhna Wendi Kowarik, Nest 36 President and a great friend of Frania, delivered a moving eulogy at the funeral that perfectly captured Frania’s life and the memories we all share.
Frania was such a dedicated Member of the Polish Falcons. Her devotion to the ideals and principals was unmatched and unwavering her entire life. Fittingly, her dedication to the organization was rewarded in 2016 when she was elected as the Grand Master of the Legion of Honor. She was the ninth Member to hold this prestigious position and she truly shattered the glass ceiling by becoming the first woman to be elected Grand Master.
Frania was so proud to be the Grand Master. She wasted no time in making changes to improve the awards program. She convened a meeting of the Commandery in 2017 and again in 2019. Her desire was to encourage Nests and Districts to nominate more deserving Members for the Awards they so richly deserve.
For the National Convention this year, Frania was also preparing for the celebration of the 95th Anniversary of the founding of the Legion of Honor in 2020. Just a week before her passing, Frania, Vice President Trish and I had a meeting to discuss the meeting of the Legion of Honor Conclave at the National Convention, and how we were going to mark the Legion of Honor anniversary. Frania was thrilled at the prospect of this celebration. While we still celebrate this momentous occasion this year at the Convention, it will be marked with sadness knowing Frania will not be there to share it with us. But I know that her spirit will be in the room during, just to make sure we do it right. May her soul, and all our departed Falcon Members rest in peace. Czolem!
Just a couple quick items. The National Convention will be here before we know it. We are preparing announcements for the next issue of the magazine and the website. I will keep you informed about what is happening and what you need to know about the Convention.
Also, in addition to the Convention, 2020 is shaping up to be another busy year for Polish Falcons. Druhna Puskar is working hard on the upcoming youth programs. I am also working out the final details of a new and exciting trip to Poland in the Fall.
To help keep Members informed about what is happening in the organization, Communications Director Courtney Caughey-Stambul has started a new weekly news feed that is delivered by email. If you are not on our email list, click here and get registered so you don’t miss any of the things that are happening with the Polish Falcons.
Today as a part of our Christmas series of emails, we invite you to read the story of St. Nicholas below, and then to make your own St. Nick candy bar wrappers. Candy bars make great stocking stuffers, gifts for co-workers, teachers and classmates! To receive our weekly Christmas emails, sign up here.
The Story of St. Nicholas
Written by Samantha Wallace
These days, especially in the West, the day after Thanksgiving marks the official start of the Christmas season (although we’ve all seen Christmas decorations going up for sale as soon as Halloween ends). But for Polish people, including the Polish diaspora living around the world, nothing says the holidays are here like St. Nicholas Day (Dzien Świętego Mikołaja) on December 6.
The day is the feast day of the revered Christian saint, who – through his reputation for protecting and giving gifts to children – is generally acknowledged as the inspiration for Santa Claus. However, Nicholas is still separately celebrated for his own merits and contributions to Christianity, especially in Poland, which has a strong Christian background.
Born during the 3rd century in a village called Patara – in an area of what is now Turkey, but at the time was part of Greece – Nicholas was a devout Christian from a young age, at a time when Christianity was still in its infancy and was still being strongly persecuted in some areas of Greece and eastern Europe. He came from a rich background and inherited sizable wealth when his parents died while he was still a young man, but after his parents’ deaths, he used the wealth he inherited from them to, as Jesus proclaimed, “sell what you own and give the money to the poor” – especially to children. This is, most likely, where the idea of Santa Claus/St. Nicholas giving gifts to children began.
Nicholas’ faith and devotion to the poor earned him love and respect from the Christian community, and he was made Bishop of Myra in Lycia in 317 A.D. Due to the turbulent religious times, he was imprisoned and then exiled under the direction of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, but he was eventually released and attended the pivotal Council of Nicea in 325 A.D., which brought together leading figures in Christianity in order to discuss and solve issues about the early years of the faith.
There are many tales told of Nicholas, most miraculous in nature, about his generosity and protection of children. One story tells of a poor man with three daughters; in older times, a young woman’s father had to offer prospective husbands something of value, known as a dowry, and the larger the dowry, the better the chance that a young woman would find a good husband. Without a dowry, however, a woman was unlikely to marry. This poor man’s daughters, without dowries, were destined to be sold into slavery – but mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home, providing the needed dowries.
The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes for gifts from St. Nicholas. Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold, which is why three gold balls – often represented as oranges – are one of the symbols for St. Nicholas.
Another story tells of three theological students, traveling on their way to study in Athens when a wicked innkeeper robbed and murdered them, hiding their remains in a pickling vat. It so happened that Bishop Nicholas, traveling along the same route, stopped at the same inn, and in the night he dreamed of the crime, got up, and summoned the innkeeper. As Nicholas prayed to God, the three boys were restored to life.
Nicholas died on December 6, 343 A.D., and he has been recognized as a saint since long before the Catholic Church began regulating canonization procedures in the late 10th century; the Roman emperor Justinian I built a church to honor St. Nicholas in Constantinople as early as the 6th century. The celebration of his life and legacy continue to this day, with Poles commemorating it in their own unique way.
The festivities begin the night before, when stockings are hung by the fireplace in hopes that they will be filled with nuts, tangerines or oranges (emblematic of the gold balls said to have been given by St. Nicholas to the poor man’s daughters), and small gifts by the Saint. In older times, freshly cleaned and polished shoes were set out for these gifts.
Nicholas is said to descend from Heaven that night with an angel helper and travel by sleigh (another inspiration for Santa Claus) to visit homes. It is said that he would give out the small gifts and oranges, and often pierniki, saint-shaped cookies made with honey and spices, as well – the making of which is still a tradition in many areas of Poland. Another older tradition held on feast day was when small boys would dress up as bishops and beg alms for the poor. Old or now, these cherished traditions ensure that the selfless legacy of St. Nicholas will continue in Polish homes around the world.
Attention Members: We’re Moving!
To complete our move, National Headquarters will close at noon eastern on Monday, November 4 and reopen at noon eastern on Thursday, November 7. Thank you for your patience during this transition.
Polish Falcons of America
1016 Greentree Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15220
Phone, Fax, Email and Website remain the same, and are as follows:
Phone: 412-922-2244 or 800-535-2071
Please email us if you’re in need of immediate assistance.
In the case of an urgent matter, please call Trish Del Busse at 724-747-3179.