Annual ACPC Convention
July 13 - 16, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio
Honoring the Maestro -- Ignacy Jan Paderewski

[Photograph Cleveland Meeting]

President Debbie Majka opens the sessions.

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Ben Stefanski greets the convention.




by Jo Louise Winters, P/R

Deborah M. Majka, President, opened the 63rd Annual Convention of the American Council for Polish Culture and introduced Mr. Ben Stefanski, President Polish American Cultural Center, John Paul II of Cleveland, which hosted the convention. Mr. Stefanski welcomed the delegates warmly and promised an exciting four days of cultural activities, filled with tours, concerts, and presentations by authors, etc.

A luncheon speaker, Dr. Casimir Kowalski, SC State University Professor of Educational Leadership, discussed his book Heroes of Solidarity and impressed the audience by emphasizing how the leaders of the Solidarity Movement in Poland made sacrifices, risking their lives, and finally winning independence and freedom for Poland.

Business sessions were conducted at scheduled times throughout the convention. The following are important matters that were discussed.

Ursula Brodowicz, Chair Skalny Scholarships for Polish Studies, submitted a report that she had mailed over 50 letters with posters to faculty members at universities with Slavic departments throughout the U.S. regarding the availability of two $3,000 scholarships for 2011. The committee reviewed the applications and selected the two winners: Karoline Carlman, Central CT State U. (her award was presented by Ms. Brodowicz at a meeting of the Polish Cultural Club of Greater Hartford), and Lara S. Szypszak, Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Co-Webmasters Ted Mirecki and Peter Obst revealed that during 2010-2011 the ACPC website had been updated many times. The Youth Leadership and the Social Studies Conferences are examples of extensive ACPC member involvements that insure the website is dynamic and intellectually interesting. Mary Flanagan inspired the webmasters to add a book promotion section. Available ACPC promotional books are also listed. The site is a great way to receive and distribute Polish intellectual/cultural information to the many visitors to our website.

The annual ACPC Literary Competition, chaired by Carolyn Meleski was established by ACPC member Dr. Estelle Wachtel-Torres, MD in honor of her father Stanley Wachtel. Dr. Wachtel contributes the award money for first place winners in ACPC Affiliate literary competitions. This year, the Friends of Polish Art (FPA) — Detroit showcased their winners at their annual Easter Luncheon. First prize winner was Kathryn O’Donnell for her short story "Instincts". She was awarded $250 of which $125 came from the FPA and $125 matched by the ACPC. Mrs. Meleski reported that the matching dollar award is being increased by Dr. Torres from $200 to $250 so that an Affiliate can offer a first prize of $500 for its competition with ACPC matching half of it.

Dr. Robert Dutka, Investment Committee Chairman, announced that the Investment Committee has agreed with the Pulaski Scholarship Committee, Marion Winters, Chairman, that the Pulaski Endowment Fund should be invested and maintained in such a manner so that beginning with 2012 ACPC will be able to award four $5,000 scholarships annually.

Carolyn Meleski reported, as Chairlady that the Special Projects Funding Committee decided that money raised this year will be used to fund the Jamestown Plaque, a project chaired by Thomas Payne. Mr. Payne announced that the plaque honoring the Polish settlers who contributed richly to the success of the Jamestown Settlement in the early 1600s will be installed as part of the 2012 ACPC Convention program in Williamsburg, VA.

Evelyn Bachorski-Bowman, Chair Membership Brochure Revision Committee, displayed a proposed new ACPC Membership Brochure — a tri-fold format with clean design, positive theme, and text refreshed for a reader friendly approach. The new brochure will be printed ready for distribution at the Fall 2011 Board Meeting.

ACPC Scholarship Committee Chair Camille Kopielski announced the names of the two students chosen to receive $2,000 each to study at a university of their choice in Poland during the summer season. Agatha Kielczewski of Addision, IL is a junior attending Northwestern Univ. Her academic record is outstanding and she is president of the Polish-American Student Assoc. at Northwestern U. She was recommended by the Polish Arts Club of Chicago. The second student to receive the $2,000 grant is Nicholas Gregory Krol of Bloomfield, MI. He is in his third year at Wayne State Univ. where he has a double major, Fine Arts and Slavic Studies with Polish concentration. Ms. Kopielski appealed to all ACPC Affiliates and Supporting Organizations to submit names of students for participation in the 2012 ACPC Study in Poland Scholarships.

Paul Bosse, Fund Raising Chair, reported on his single-handed successful efforts to distribute raffle tickets not only to Affiliates but also to individual members. Additionally, he advised that working together with Peter Obst, in support of the Polonia Archive at the Pulaski Museum in Warka, Poland, they shipped another package of materials, weighing 35 pounds, donated by ACPC members and friends across the country to the museum. They continue to contact Polish parishes in the U.S. for additional support for the Museum.

Co-Chairs Cecilia & Raymond Glembocki "National Conference for Social Studies" revealed that the theme for the 92nd Conference in Washington, DC, Dec. 2-4, 2011, will be "Dimensions in Diversity" in which ACPC will continue to play the lead Polonia role. During the 2010 Conference over 4,000 teachers and curriculum specialists were in attendance. Mr. & Mrs. Glembocki, Mr. Jason Frazen (historian) and Pres. Debbie Majka fed the conferees with interesting true acts about Polish history and the numerous brilliant Poles who made rich contributions to U.S. history — more than 450 CD’s were distributed. New lesson plans for the 2011 Conference have been prepared and a study guide for a new DVD documentary film "John Paul II: Nine Days that Changed the World" will be available. ACPC is committed to this magnificent project — material and financial support is needed — contact Glembocki 703-790-1984,

ACPC members were delighted and honored that Dr. Marie Siemionow, MD, PhD addressed the convention audience. Dr. Siemionow is a leader in the microsurgery field as Director of Plastic Surgery Research at the Cleveland Clinic. Dr. Siemionow led a team of six surgeons on a world’s first near total human face transplantation.

On the second afternoon of the convention, our members enjoyed a tour and lecture at the Western Reserve Historical Society Polish Archive. We were deeply impressed with the tremendous volume of archival personal and public materials pertaining to Poles and Polish Americans residing in the Cleveland area from ages ago. The enthusiastic tour guide took pleasure in displaying fragile and yellowed documents that revealed intimate details of the lives of the early residents.

That evening members and guests gathered at the beautiful St. Stanislaus Shrine in Slavic Village for the annual Marcella Kochanska Sembrich Concert. The extraordinary performance by this year’s winner of the Sembrich vocal competition, soprano Julie-Anne Hamula, and the incredibly superb piano accompaniment of Jacek Sobieski, deserves a very detailed and full description. Accordingly, the rich story of this event will be submitted to the press in a separate article.

Friday morning we were privileged to enjoy breakfast with guest speaker Cecile Wendt Jensen, CG author "Sto Lat: Modern Guide to Polish Genealogy". Ms. Jensen provided the listeners with easy to follow guidelines in uncovering one’s Polish genealogy. This was further enriched by the fact that the convention host had generously provided each member registered for the convention with a copy of the author’s book.

We spent the afternoon and early evening with a tour at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Unaccompanied by a guide, we wandered leisurely through the vast museum individually exploring the art works that were of personal interest.

Friday afternoon of the convention was spent at the Rockefeller Park in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens enjoying a splendid series of programs leading to the unveiling of a bust of Ignacy Jan Paderewski, eminent composer, pianist, and statesman. The full story of this important historic event will be submitted to the Polonia press.

Breakfast Saturday morning was a special treat as we were introduced to Rita Cosby, news personality and author of "Quiet Hero: Secrets From My Father's Past" Her story was enthralling as she recited how she managed to uncover the exciting tale of her father’s heroic youthful experiences during World War II. He had lied about his age so that he could join in the uprisings against the Nazi and Soviet forces. Ms. Cosby learned about the horrifying combat experiences he had endured and the terrifying escape paths through the city’s sewer system. The audience was obviously pleased to learn that the heroic deeds of her father are now a matter of record so that his name is listed with the men and women who sacrificed so much.

On the final day of the convention, Jacqueline Kolowski, Nominating Committee Chair, distributed ballots for the 2011 election of ACPC officers, directors and committee positions. After the completed ballots were counted, Ms. Kolowski announced the following results:

President: Deborah M. Majka

1st Vice-President: Camille Kopielski

2nd Vice-President: Mary Ellen Tyszka

Treasurer: Gregory Biestek

Recording Secretary: Marcia Lewandowski

Directors: Janet Beane; Evelyn Bachorski-Bowman; Ursula Brodowicz; Jacqueline Droleski; Barbara Lemecha; Bernadette Wiermanski

Credentials & Grievances: Matthew Meleski, Chair; Alicia Dutka; Irene Musman

Nominating Committee: Jacqueline Kolowski, Chair; Ange Iwanczyk; Irene Mirecki

ACPC members relayed their gratitude and appreciation to all the past and present Board members for their unselfish devotion to carrying out their responsibilities, and sharing their talents, time and money. They are perfect examples of the generosity and devotion in Polish American hearts in promoting Polish culture and heritage. Bog Zaplac! During our sojourn in Cleveland our attention was drawn to an article in a Bulletin of the St. Stanislaus Shrine wherein David Krakosky refers to the belief long held by Poles and Polonians that guests must be treated reverently because "Gosc w domu, Bog w domu." Keeping Krakosky’s comments in mind, we realize that as guests of the Polish American Center we felt very blessed indeed. Our members offer their gratitude to the dynamic and debonair President Ben Stefanski for the eloquent treatment accorded us. Our thanks also go to Aundrea-Cika Heschmeyer for her enthusiastic guidance at every step of the way and also to Ewa Trzeciak for her active role in making the week a memorable one. Dziekujemy — i do milego zobaczenia!

Readers who wish to join the American Council for Polish Culture, a non-profit organization, which acts as a national federation of Polish cultural organizations located throughout the United States, may contact Florence Landridge at 860-521-4034, Individual membership dues are only $10 annually!

Go to Awards Information

Go to Pulaski Bust Unveiling Information

......................... More photographs on facebook ...

Photographs courtesy of Peter Obst, Jacqueline Kolowski, Marion Winters.

[Photograph Cleveland Meeting]

1. Our home-away-from-home the Hilton Garden Inn, Cleveland Downtown

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2. Rita Cosby speaks at the unveiling of the Paderewski bust in the Polish Cultural Garden, Roosevelt Park

[Photograph Cleveland Meeting]

3. After the Unveiling (l. to r.) Dr. James Pula, Mayor of Cleveland, Hon. Frank Jackson, Paderewski Bust, Ben Stefanski, NY Consul General Junczyk-Ziomecka, Rita Cosby, Fr. Placyd Kon, O.F.M.

[Photograph Cleveland Meeting]

4. Paderewski's Bust

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5. St. Stanislaw Bishop and Martyr Church

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6. Audrea Heschmeyer presents on behalf Polish Youngstown.

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7. Concert at St. Stanislaus B and M Church

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8. Concert at St. Stanislaus B and M Church - (l. to r.) Alicia Dutka, Debbie Majka, Julie-Anne Hamula

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9. Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka, Consul General of the Republic of Poland in New York

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10. Jackie Kolowski and Konrad Binienda

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11. Mary Flanagan, Barbara Lemecha, Robert Flanagan

Cleveland Pulaski Memorial

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12. Cleveland's Pulaski Memorial is this old 3 inch artillery piece that is commonly known as the Pulaski Cannon or the "Polish Rifle"

[Photograph Cleveland Meeting]

13. By pure coincidence Peter Obst found mention of the Cannon in the 1936 manuscript writtten by John K. Gallka