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VP Trish: Legion of Honor

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!

VP Trish: Gorecki Scholarship Program

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!

VP Trish: Some Random Thoughts

Random thoughts (some of mine, some of others)…

  • Do we need a laundry basket for just clean clothes? I mean we carry dirty clothes down in the basket; is it a good idea to use the same basket for the clean ones?
  • Masks protect others from us. Isn’t it simply considerate to wear a mask on those rare occasions when one must go out?
  • If you wear glasses, wash them with shaving cream! Not only will they be the cleanest ever, but they won’t fog when you sport your mask!
  • Should one take his/her car out every now and then or simply start it periodically?
  • Those of us who are still fortunate enough to work now, shouldn’t we be helping others? Possibly make donations to a food bank?
  • Our churches still need our weekly offerings.
  • Retail workers are working hard; please ask how they are and say thank you. And of course, be nice! (This should be the norm!)
  • Get fresh air even if all you do is walk around your yard.
  • Have a routine – pretend you are heading to the office even if it is in your home office or your kitchen. (Put clothes on, not fresh pajamas!)
  • Embrace this opportunity.
  • Think of three positive things as a result of this current situation.
  • Imagine how much more challenging this might have been years ago, prior to all of this technology.
  • When using reusable gloves (generally at home, latex), be sure to wash your hands while still wearing your gloves.
  • Supporting a local, small business makes sense. I am thankful for them.
  • Possibly pay your cleaning person, nail tech or hairdresser. Maybe not the entire amount, but they aren’t working now (if you still are).
  • Key an eye on neighbors to be sure someone is checking in on them.
  • Send a letter or a card. Not all have internet or are on Facebook, and even if they are, old-fashioned mail is always a treat!
  • Sing (you know) like no one is listening. Dance like no one is watching.
  • Read a book, magazine, something. Do more than watch TV and surf the net.
  • Try out a new recipe.
  • Breathe, embrace, appreciate.
  • Wash your hands and stay home. We will all get through this!

While this is not something any of us are doing by choice, I am finding many things that I am enjoying as a result of this stay-at-home order. I do enjoy working from home, but I truly miss the interaction with the Membership. I have emailed and spoken with a few but not like being in the office.

Of course, I miss my colleagues.

Hang in there; life is still good! Czolem!