Druhna Chris: PFA Beginnings

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With the outbreak of COVID-19 and the cancellation of PFA events, and with history being an important part of the Falcons, I would like you to share your experiences as a Member with us. I am interested in how you became a Member; was it through your parents or grandparents? What activities have you been involved in, or are still involved in today? What is your favorite memory? How have your friendships in the PFA flourished? What are some of the things that you have learned as a Member? These are all things that interest me.

I know that I became involved in the PFA through my Ciocia, Betty Bubacz. She was the Instructress for Nest 118 in Pittsburgh. She always stopped at our house on the way to gym class with my cousins. One summer evening, she saw how bored I was and decided I should go with them to gym class. So, I went. That night Druhna Leona Kozloski was there to teach Polish dancing. I had so much fun that I continued to go to gym class and have been active pretty much since then. I did have a bit of a break during college. I got involved again when our National First Vice President Trish talked me into attending a Nest meeting. She has been one of those lifelong friends who helps me with everything. As soon as my children were able to attend events, they became actively involved. They both, too, have made many lifelong friends in the PFA. My husband took a little longer to get involved, but has been my back-up and behind the scenes helper with everything I do in my job as the National Physical Education Director. My cousin Barbara Chervenak was, for a while, my helper at all the Youth Events as Secretary, and a general helper with everything. Now, my cousin Patty Capozoli helps me with all those events. We always manage to have a great time with each other and the youth participants. After my pause for college, I have been active in my Nest and District and with the National Office. The Puskar’s are a Polish Falcons family. All of my closest friends are Polish Falcons people. I am very grateful to my Ciocia Betty for taking me with her to gym class that day. Polish Falcons is a huge part of my life, and I love every minute of it.

Now it’s your turn. I would love to hear the stories of how you became involved in the PFA. I know that there are many, many families that have similar stories to tell. Now that we are all mostly at home practicing our “social distancing,” you might have the time to write down your story and send it to me. Maybe we will get enough stories together to put them into a book. I love photos too. Maybe you can send one or two with your story?

There is no age limit to who can send their stories. All ages can tell us about their favorite parts of the PFA. I am looking forward to hearing from you! Email your story to cpuskar@polishfalcons.org.

Czolem!

2020 Future Leaders Online Conference

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Are you between the ages of 14 and 20? Do you need some Leadership skills to help you through high school and college? Join us for the first ever Online Future Leaders Conference!

The Conference will take place virtually June 15 – July 1, 2020.

Sessions will take place on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays beginning at 10 a.m. EST. Each session will last approximately 90 minutes.

For additional information and/or to register, please click here.

PACCF Online Cultural Program

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The Polish American Congress Charitable Foundation is sponsoring an Online Cultural Program for American teenagers, ages 13-17, in cooperation with the School of Polish Language and Culture at Jagiellonian University. The program will include 30 hours of Polish language, 20 hours of virtual sightseeing tours, cooking classes, Polish holiday traditions, song and dance, games and online quizzes.

Registrations must be received by June 10th and space is limited. For full details including eligibility and cost, please click here.

VP Trish: 2020 Gorecki Recipients

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It pleases me to share the decision of the independent Richard C. Gorecki Scholarship Committee. Their decision was approved by the Polish Falcons of America Board of Directors at our meeting held last weekend.

First of all, the Independent Committee is comprised of five very special individuals who so generously give of their time and expertise and choose our recipients.

They are:

  • Mary Louise Ellena-Wygonik – President of the Kosciuszko Foundation, teaches at LaRoche University
  • Robert Tierney – Vice President of the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh
  • Kevin Richards – Youth Director for Slovene National Benefit Society
  • Jolanta Lion – Director of the CMU International Film Festival, Assistant Director of The Humanities Center, teaches Polish at CMU
  • Susan Wuchenich Parker – Member of the Serb National Federation, Associate Professor of Early Childhood & Special Education teaching at Robert Morris University

After much discussion, they chose:

  • Mateusz Conrado – Nest 79, District XIII (since he is a Nest 79 Member, he will receive $11,000). His major is Nursing, attending Grand Valley State University with a GPA of 3.4.
  • Matthew Dutczak – Nest 42, District II. His major is Masters of Wind Band Conducting with a GPA of 3.6, and he is attending the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
  • Timothy Eckert – Nest 907, District II. He is currently attending the Liberty University College of Medicine as a Graduate student. His GPA is 3.9.

The Independent Committee reviewed and discussed and as is the usual, they were extremely impressed with all of the applicants.

The Scholarship Committee of the PFA Board of Directors is:

  • Patricia Del Busse – Chairperson
  • Patricia Capozoli – District IV Director
  • Edward Ciesla – District I Director
  • John Kowarik – District V Director
  • Thomas Washington – District VII Director

Thank you all for everything you do for our Scholarship Programs!

VP Trish: Falcon Pins

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One of the questions frequently asked is how to wear your Falcon pins. Simply, wear over your heart and the highest office pin you hold is at the top. You also wear the latest pin you have received; technically, once you are Legion of Honor, you no longer wear your Star of Merit pins.

If you wear a flag pin, (American and/or Polish) it would be uppermost on your lapel.

Any questions, please let me know by emailing vptrish@polishfalcons.org.

Keep safe and healthy!

Czolem!

VP Trish: Legion of Honor

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So while I am “stuck” at home and working remotely, I have been extremely busy. I do go into the office on occasion, but most of the time I have been in my office in Ginger Hill, Pa.

The project that has occupied the majority of my time is creating an Excel spreadsheet of the award recipients by Nest. Our new insurance program (which is 3 ½ years old) is not conducive to our awards program.

This is a lengthy project with having to input each name and each award date. It is so interesting and so much fun walking down memory lane. It is also fun to figure out names, sometimes at the beginning the name is Jozefa but by the end Josephine or Jan becomes John. Still fun! And then of course, women marry, divorce, remarry and so on.

I have done over 90 Nests. It is very interesting when Nests are merged or dissolved. There was one Nest that had a three Nest merger, but prior to that there were two Nests who had gone into one of the three.

Sadly though, so many Nests do not participate in this program. Now, there are quite a few who do and their pages were very time consuming (which is a good thing!). I am asking all of you to please acknowledge your workers. The thing of it is that the Stars of Merit are a pat on the back and acknowledgement that their dedication and work is recognized. By the time one reaches the Legion of Honor levels, the Member has shown extra effort needed for the Polish Falcons to survive for over 130 years! Legion Members are the most dedicated and supportive Falcon Members. They deserve recognition!

“The purpose of the Falcon Legion of Honor is the preservation and fostering of the noble ideals, principles, traditions, precepts and customs of the Falcon Order, as defined by its’ founders and originators. Those Members entitled/qualified for the honor are the deserving men and women who by their untiring sacrifice have worked within the Falcons and among Polonia gaining respect and esteem. They have also shown integrity and an unimpeachable character to obtain the finest reputation amongst the Falcon Members.”

Druh Walter Pawlak (Nests 8, 41 & 69) proposed the establishment of an order of merit for recognizing dedicated Falcons and their services. The Legion idea was strongly supported by Dr. T.A. Starzynski. The idea was presented at a Special Convention held in Detroit, Michigan in 1925.

There are two levels of our awards program – the Star of Merit and the Legion of Honor.

One must be a Member for at least three years (and be active) and at least 18 years old to receive their Bronze Star of Merit. Five years later, one may be elevated to Silver Star of Merit and five years later, Gold Star of Merit. The Member is nominated by their Nest; the application is sent into National Headquarters. If the National Executive Committee approves these applications, a pin and certificate is sent to the Nest for presentation to the Member.

This means, at a minimum, a Member qualifies for the Legion of Honor Cross after at least 18 years of uninterrupted Membership in the Polish Falcons of America. Work in other organizations, whether political or professional, cannot be the main consideration. Activities within the Nest are the main criteria for being considered for the awarding of the Legion of Honor or an elevation. Outside activities may be listed for informational purposes.

The Legion of Honor process requires more. Five years after the Gold Star of Merit, the Member may be nominated for their Bronze Legion of Honor. Not only is one nominated by their Nest (or in some instances, their District), the Executive Committee must approve before the Members of the Legion of Honor Commandery also review and approve the applications. The Nest/District will then receive a card, lapel pin, ribbon and certificate to present to the deserving Member.

Each District has a representative on the Commandery. Recently, Druh Edward Ciesla of District I was elected to the position of Grand Master. Druh is the District I representative as well as the Grand Master.

The current Legion of Honor Commandery is:

  • District I-Edward Ciesla (also Grand Master, pictured right)
  • District II-Joan Beilfuss
  • District IV-Thaddeus Kokoski
  • District V-James Sokolowski
  • District VI-Nancy Chiszar
  • District VII-Thomas Washington
  • District IX-Geraldine Wilson
  • District XIII-Joan Pawlukiewicz

Applications are available by contacting me or by clicking here. The website has fillable applications that you may fill, print out, and mail in.

Obviously, not all of the Commandery Members knows all the applicants. This makes it extremely important that the application is full of as much information regarding the applicants’ activity as is possible.

It is always nice to present the awards in a group setting but that isn’t always possible. Banquets, installation of Officers, picnics, parties, even living rooms!

If you have any questions at all, please contact me. I would be more than happy to help as would our Grand Master, Druh Ciesla (cieslaed@rcn.com).

Keep safe and healthy!

Czolem!

#GivingTuesdayNow: Support your Nest!

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05/12/2020 Update: Contributions now being accepted through May 31, 2020.

Support your Nest!

#GivingTuesdayNow (May 5) is a global day of generosity and unity, a day to come together and give back in response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19, no matter who or where we are.

If able in this difficult time, PFA National Headquarters is asking Polish Falcons Members to make a contribution to support their Nests.

Our Nests have been closed for five weeks or longer. There is little or no income and bills still need to be paid. How much would you have spent at your Nest over the course of five weeks? Are you able to donate that amount or a portion of it?

Today through May 12, let us come together as Falcons for our Nests. This is your chance to show support for your Nest and make a donation to help the Nest get through these challenging times. No amount is too small. Thank you for giving.

Click here to make your contribution.

VP Trish: Gorecki Scholarship Program

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As I write this, the Independent Committee is reviewing this year’s applications for the Richard C. Gorecki Scholarship Program. I wish I could figure out why more of our Members don’t apply for this program. If one receives the grant, it is a $10,000.00 grant. Yes, $10,000.00!

Richard C. Gorecki passed away on April 14, 1994 and generously bequeathed a portion of his estate to the Polish Falcons for educational purposes. The Gorecki Scholarships are designed to reward those Falcon Members who demonstrate the highest academic standards and leadership qualities. Since Druh was from Nest 79, a Nest 79 Member receives an additional $1,000.00. Or if a Member is from another District XIII Nest, they receive an additional $500.00. (The additional amount is only $1000.00, not $1500.00 if you belong to Nest 79.)

I agree this application takes a bit more work than our Dr. T.A. Starzynski Scholarship. There are a few more qualifications but not difficult ones.

  • A Member has to have been a Member at least six years.
  • This Member must have a permanent plan of insurance or an annuity. If there is a T or J in your policy number, you do not have a permanent plan. This permanent plan must be in place at least one year prior to application.
  • The applicant (Member) must be entering at least their junior year of college. Full time post graduate students may apply.
  • The applicant must have a G.P.A. of at least 3.0.
  • The Applicant must be enrolled full time and still be enrolled full time when collecting the grant.
  • National Dues must be current; billing of National Dues begins at age 18.

The application itself is rather simple.

  • There are two essay questions, each with a minimum of 500 words.
  • Falcon activity and/or community service are very important. One community service form and letter are required.
  • Nest information form and letter are requested, but if one is not very active in Falcons (due to geography or lack of programs in your area), as long as there is community service, one would qualify. Keep in mind that even though your area may not be very active, there are National Youth Programs.
  • Three letters of recommendation are required. Recommendations may not be from relatives, the Nest or Community Service Organization as requested above. I personally enjoy writing letters of recommendation; I am sure there are others who feel the same way!
  • College or university transcripts sent by the institution.
  • The deadline is always April 15; paperwork must be postmarked by this date.

As I mentioned, the decision as to whom receives a grant is made by an Independent Committee; no one is a Falcon Member. There are five individuals who meet and decide. When I receive the applications, I confirm Membership and qualifications. Copies are then made and mailed to each Committee Member. Following, the Committee comes to our office and we all have dinner. I, then leave the room while the Committee meets and makes their recommendations. I am not part of the process. Obviously, we will not be having dinner this year! The committee will meet virtually.

Another thing that surprises me is that traditionally most of the applicants are female. But this year, there is only one female applicant (very rare).

I understand that college students are extremely busy, but students are used to writing essays so our two essays (we have two questions) don’t take a ton of time; obviously the applicant needs to do some thinking! There is the need to print out forms and request letters from others, but again, not that big of a deal!

So say this entire process takes you eight hours, do you usually earn $1,250.00 an hour? Seriously, invest in yourself and give yourself every opportunity. If you have any questions (any!) regarding our scholarship programs, please contact me at vptrish@polishfalcons.org.

A list of all the Gorecki recipients is on our Scholarships page.

If you are going to be eligible next year, please apply!

Keep safe and healthy! Czolem!

This blog is 676 words, done quickly!

Past National Bowling Tournaments

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We are missing our bowlers this year! As we await the time we can gather together once again, check out this list of past PFA National Bowling Tournaments compiled by Janet Knauber and Trish Del Busse.

Coronavirus COVID-19 Relief Program

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04/08/2020 Update: Applications Now Available Here.

Several years ago the Polish Falcons of America created a Disaster Relief Program to assist Members who were affected by a natural disaster. Since that time, PFA has provided thousands of dollars in assistance to our Members. In light of the current situation as a result of the world-wide pandemic, the PFA National Board of Directors voted to approve a new program to provide assistance to those Members affected by the virus.

Applications for the program will be available on the PFA website starting on Wednesday, April 8, 2020. The program will be open until December 31, 2020, or until the funds available are exhausted. Because of the limited funds available, applications will be handled on a first come, first served basis. The amount of each grant is $250.

Below are the requirements for the program.

Eligibility Requirements

  1. An individual Member who has been infected with the coronavirus.
  2. An individual Member with an immediate family member who has been infected with the coronavirus. Immediate family member is defined as a spouse, children, parents or in-laws, or someone who is dependent on the care of the Member.
  3. An individual Member who has experienced a significant financial setback as a result of the coronavirus. These applications will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
  4. The applicant must be a Member of PFA in Good Standing (which means all National Dues must be current at the time of application).
  5. Grants are available to one per household.

If you have any questions about the program, please contact Physical Education Director Chris Puskar at cpuskar@polishfalcons.org or by calling National Headquarters toll-free at 800-535-2071.

If you would like to make a donation to help support this program and increase the number of grants available to Members in need, please send check payable to Polish Falcons of America, Attn: Chris Puskar, 1016 Greentree Rd., Suite 201, Pittsburgh, PA 15220.