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VP Trish: The Falcon Seal

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The emblem recognized as the official seal of the Polish Falcons of America was adopted by the organization in 1914. At the time, the emphasis of the Polish Falcons went beyond its traditional physical education activities among the youth, and into the mobilization of an army of Polish Americans prepared to fight for Poland’s independence in World War I.

In the emblem, the Falcon bird is shown breaking Poland’s chains of enslavement by use of arms. Behind the bird is a sword and bayoneted rifle. The physical education aspect of the organization is depicted by the dumbbells in the bird’s claws. To the left are the laurels of victory and to the right are the initials (ZSPwA), which stand for the original name of the organization – the Alliance of Polish Falcons in America (Zwiazek Sokolow Polskich w Ameryce). In the background is the burial mound in Krakow of Thaddeus Kosciuszko, the patron of the Polish Falcons. The mound is brightened by the sunshine of freedom.

The words in the circle surrounding the emblem, “Czolem Ojczynie Szponem Wrogowi,” translate to “Hail to the Fatherland — Talons to the Enemy,” one of the historic phrases of the Falcons.

The seal is a reminder to the Polish Falcons of today of their forefathers’ dedication to the principles of physical education, the love of their homeland — Poland, and their willingness to give their lives so that Poland may be free.

As time goes by, I am going to post information regarding the Polish Falcons that many of you may not know, or even if you do, will serve as a nice reminder.

This seal is my absolute favorite; I use it quite often.

I am hoping all goes well with the Districts in having their first (for most of us) virtual District Plenary Meeting.

A Bit of Insurance Lingo!

  • Insured – the benefit is on this person for when he/she passes away
  • Beneficiary – the person or persons who will receive the benefit (financial) when the insured passes away
  • Contingent Beneficiary – the person who will receive the benefit if both the insured and the primary beneficiary are deceased

Keep safe and healthy! Czolem!

Strawberry Recipes

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Celebrate the final months of summer with these easy and delicious strawberry recipes by Robert Strybel, our Warsaw Correspondent.

Strawberries and Sour Cream (truskawki ze śmietaną): Hull, wash and drain 1 qt. ripe strawberries. Slice thin into a large bowl and sprinkle with several t. or T. (your choice to taste) granulated or confectioner’s sugar. Toss gently and let stand at room temperature (but not in direct sunlight) for 2 hours or more. Fill fruit bowls and top each portion with a dollop of sour cream (or top American-style with whipped cream).

Homemade Strawberry Soda (domowa oranżada truskawkowa): If using very ripe strawberries in the previous recipe, a good deal of syrup will form. You can drain it off and mix with cold club soda for a refreshing soft drink that is tastier and healthier than artificially flavored store-bought soda. Drop in a few whole strawberries for visual appeal.

Super-Easy Strawberry Torte (najłatwiejszy torcik truskawkowy): Even young children can prepare this dessert and have the satisfaction of saying, “I made it myself!” Prepare fruits as in Strawberries and Sour Cream recipe (optional: drain off syrup for use in homemade soda or as ice-cream topping). Spoon strawberries over plain store-bought sponge-cake and top with aerosol-type whipped cream. Decorate top with a few whole strawberries.

VP Trish: Making a Difference

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Just about from the beginning of life, people (in addition to family members) make an impact on you. Quite often, these people are teachers but more for me were Falcon Leaders. Druhna Lottie Fik was someone who made a tremendous impact on me while growing up. (Many of you will agree!)

Back when I was young, we were afraid of authority figures. Druhna was not to be messed with but in time, one learned to respect her, not fear her.

Druhna Fik was truly an amazing woman way ahead of her time. In my opinion, she was very blessed to be married to Stanley (as he was to be married to her!). Think about this, in 1962 after 22 years of marriage and three children, Lottie became only the second woman to be a Chief Instructress of the Polish Falcons. This required quite a bit of travel!

Druhna held this position from 1962 until 1981. During this time, Druhna worked with three men – Edward Biestek (1960-1963), Gustav Pieprzyny(1963-1970) and Edmund Pett (1971-1981).

Back in those days, Druhna would write a new drill for each girls’ division every four years. Each National Zlot would have a new routine. These routines were beautiful and done to Polish music. My favorite is still the ball drill that we performed in 1972 at Notre Dame. I can remember Druhna giving the commands and counting in Polish. Marching was a big deal and I loved the way we marched!

Gymnastics was a major part of our program and Druhna wrote optional routines for each piece of equipment – high low bars, balance beam, vault and free-ex. Talk about creativity and talent.

Our National Drill has changed throughout the years. When Poland was still under Communist rule, the drill had only three rotations symbolically not facing the west. When we added the fourth turn, we needed to find an ending for the drill. At an Instructors’ meeting hosted by Druhna Marian Weslowski, we worked on the drill. Druhna Fik was there and suggested the ending that we still use.

It was always wonderful to spend time with Lottie, she always had a smile and was very supportive. Druhna even bowled in the National Bowling Tournaments. When Druhna Marian started National Camp in Angola, N.Y., Druhna Lottie was there helping with singing and dancing. Talk about dedicated! Druhna was 80 years old, sleeping on a cot in a cabin with several other women!

Even after Druhna retired, her involvement continued. She attended National Zlots helping with the youth Members from her Nest and District, as well as Instructors Clinics hosted by Druhna Marian. I have fond memories of Druhna calling me to discuss music and other things pertaining to the youth programs.

Even though most of us hadn’t seen Druhna in a while, so many of us still thought of her and asked about her often. Druhna Joan Beilfuss of Nest 907 (who spent many summers with Lottie) used to keep me posted. Obviously, her daughter Felicia and other family members would share Lottie stories.

Druhna Lottie’s legacy will live on. She was an amazing, strong wonderful woman who touched the lives of so many!

May Druhna Lottie rest in peace! Czolem!

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: 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: Reminiscing on the National Bowling Tournament

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My first National Bowling Tournament was in 1981 hosted by Nest 52, Rochester, N.Y. At the time, Nest 52 still had their Club, which included a small bowling alley next to their bar. I had just moved and was not in a good frame of mind (I get very emotional!), and I simply did not know what to expect. I was quite surprised and not in a pleasant way. I went home and told my Mother that I thought the event was awful! Her response – “Well, there is something wrong with you!”

That fall, we attended the District IV Bowling Tournament and had a blast. A few folks asked us if we were going to South Bend (Nest 80) in the spring. At that time, there were two weekends and most of the Pittsburgh Membership went the second weekend. Well, my Mom went the second weekend; so we decided to go on the first weekend (There were other factors within our team that made the decision.). In a better frame of mind and expectations slightly different, off to South Bend we went! Five of us jammed into one car and all of us slept in one room! Obviously, I understood my Mother’s comment!

So much has changed since then! Think about how much the world has changed since 1982!

  • There were no computers so all entries were sent in on a paper application. There were quite a few bowlers so if you wanted to get your preferred day and time, you had to get your application in early. Geography played a role in these assignments. The Nest Financial Secretary had to sign off and you had to get it signed by the (at the time for the ladies) WIBC. The application was usually mailed a few times before it arrived at the National Bowling Commissioner’s home.
  • There were two divisions – men and women, no mixed. The teams were five person and one had to have a sanction card to participate. We even bowled two male teams on a pair, then two female teams on a pair. It took a while before we were bowling together.
  • Your doubles partner had to be the same gender. If you bowled singles, you had to bowl doubles.
  • Teams dressed alike; we used to have so much fun coming up with outfits!
  • There were no computers at the lanes so the Host Nest had to have enough volunteers to keep score. This was quite a task but again, tons of fun! Then, the Host Nest had to tabulate all of those results by hand. Every team, every person, every series, imagine that!
  • The tournament moved from the east to the west alternating years. West was of course, in the South Bend area. East was Erie and east. Nests would bid on the tournament, often giving away items or hosting a hospitality room, and also each team member received a goodie bag from the Host Nest.
  • Results were posted in the Sokol; we couldn’t wait to receive the Sokol so that we could see the final results!
  • Each Nest still receives a souvenir to put in their Club.

But, the common denominator at the tournament all those years ago was the camaraderie. And that remains the same! Bowling is simply an excuse to get together with life-long friends! The Camaraderie!

I have missed very few tournaments since I began going. I could fill several issues of the Sokol Polski with stories, with lots of giggling. Conversations in the van or in the car or on the plane or on the train! Silliness and just plain fun! Mom’s apple pie, Humphrey, vacuum cleaners, glass elevators, serenades in the van, comedy routine, National Drill, Denny’s restaurant, casino on the boat, playing pool, holding Kathy’s belt loop, a Chevette, Barbie’s pool party, pushing a Cadillac, playing cards, driving a Corvette, homemade dinners at the Club, rubber legs, limo rides, sunbathing, that girl, tailgating, Asti, let’s dance, bus rides, McDonald’s in the bus, shotskis, 50/50, paint sticks, costumes, elevator floors, hotel lobbies, late night conversations, take me home country roads, shoe shopping…

And, I met my John at a National Bowling Tournament all those years ago!

See all of you next year in St. Louis!

Keep healthy and safe! Czolem!

VP Trish: The Importance of Exercise

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“Whereas, a sound mind in a sound body is the foundation of the Polish Falcons of America…” This is the beginning of our purpose as stated in our Constitution.

Years ago when I was in college, I had to write a report on whatever I wanted, so I chose the importance of exercise. The title of the report is “Exercise Your Mind.” While the report is dated, most of the information is still accurate today.

Psychologists have said for quite some time that exercise should top the list of things to do to take care of yourself. Research overwhelmingly points out the correlation between the physical and mental benefits of physical activity. Regular exercise improves physical problems such as high cholesterol, diabetes, lowers blood pressure, improves metabolism, aids in weight loss, weight management, decreases the risk of various cancers, as well as a laundry list of other ailments; it also has definite mood and cognitive advantages as well. The ability to boost higher-level thinking and combat depression and anxiety is a result of physical activity. Exercise also assists in the maintenance of bone density and improves the immune system.

Patients who had been suffering from depression were randomly selected to participate in an exercise program. These patients had declines in depression equal to those of a group that received antidepressants. It was found that the exercisers were less likely than the medication group to relapse within six months of treatment. The patients who chose not to maintain an exercise program during the follow-up period were 50 percent more likely to become depressed.

James Blumenthal, PhD, says “This is a terribly important finding because in addition to the well-known physical benefits of regular exercise, our results suggest that exercise may be a very effective way of preventing depression in susceptible people.”

Dr. Blumenthal and his colleagues at Duke University have conducted many systematic studies of patients who had been diagnosed with major depressive disorder using the two treatment conditions of exercise and medication. They have compared patients’ response to aerobic exercise only, psychotropic medication only (Zoloft), or a combination of the two. Four months later, patients receiving any of these treatments were considerably less depressed.

Approximately two thirds of the patients were not depressed. Six months after the original study, these patients were contacted by another psychologist, Michael Babyak, PhD, and his colleagues. Their findings revealed that the patients in the exercise group were more likely to be partially or fully recovered than those in either the medication group or the medication and exercise group.

Motivation is difficult especially for those who need exercise. It takes energy, which is something people feel they don’t have. Exercise burns off stress hormones and raises the endorphin levels, which are the happiness hormones, in just a few minutes of mild exercise. This makes people feel better, upbeat and able to see things in a more positive light.

Endorphins are the body’s natural pain medication hormones. When they’re released, endorphins make us feel better by increasing our pleasure, improving our mood and minimizing our pain, both emotionally and physically. Depressed individuals often feel tired, have low energy levels, are irritable, and have problems sleeping. This situation is self-defeating since the depressed person is one who needs to move and simply can’t get moving.

So, how to break this cycle? First of all, an individual must have the desire to become healthy. The empowerment that is felt as a result of exercising physically and mentally is amazing! It awakens the potential for growth and progress. Many observations on people in awful situations were seen. Once these folks worked out on a regular basis, achieving the natural “high,” they were able to look upon their situation and find solutions not thought possible prior. A person participating in a daily regimen of exercise awakens the senses for greater pleasure in life. Long term exercisers reported after working out- an overall sense of well-being, an increase in energy and feelings of alertness and well-restedness. These were greater incentives to stay fit than managing their weight or maintaining their appearance. The main reason folks exercise is to feel good.

Mental and physical health cannot be divided; the mind, body and soul work together. They are but one entity; and will work together more efficiently with exercise. Your mind and body communicate with each other and constantly affect each other. Our health is a rich fabric spun from physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs. If one becomes frayed, the entire fabric may be weakened.

  • Exercise is a beneficial antidepressant both immediately and over the long term.
  • Although exercise decreases depression in all age groups, the older the people were, the greater the decrease in depression with exercise.
  • Exercise is an equally effective antidepressant for both males and females.
  • Walking and jogging are the most frequent forms of exercise that have been researched but all modes of exercise examined, anaerobic as well as aerobic were effective in lessening depression. The Greek physician Hippocrates deemed walking to be “man’s best medicine.”

Studies indicate that exercise is so very important in the treatment of various anxieties, issues of self-esteem and addictions. There is not one particular form of exercise. See what works for you! Weightlifting, yoga, walking, running, swimming, whatever!

Exercise itself has a positive impact on your frame of mind; dedicating time to yourself does wonders! Remember when you are on a plane and the oxygen drops, you must put the mask on yourself first. Then, you will be able to help others. Taking care of you is the same thing.

This gorgeous time of year is perfect to go for a walk. Fresh air, flowers, birds, green grass, no need for a heavy coat are just a few reasons to go outside for a walk. In doing so, you will be preventing depression, heart disease, numerous cancers, all the while clearing your brain and becoming more productive.

While this situation we find ourselves in at this time is not ideal, there are advantages. For me, I don’t have my long commute (am sure many of you are in the same boat!). Use that time for you!

If you are not inclined to go for a walk or exercise, give it a 10 minute try. Never has someone exercised and been sorry!

Hoping all are keeping safe and healthy!

Czolem!

Please note: This post was created and published online for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice.