The Professional & Business Women of Polonia, also known as PBW, was created to enhance the status

and image of Polish-American professional  and business women, to network, and to become a force in the community.

Witamy!

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President
Christine Kibler

Vice President
JoAnn Lewandowski


Treasurer

Theresa Tucholski


President Ex Officio
Renee Harzewski

Executive Board
Mary Domanski

Diana Marciniak
Pat Greiner

Professional

& Business

Women of Polonia’s

Current Officers

Secretary
Barbara Wetzel

Treasurer

Theresa Tucholski


Executive Board
Mary Domanski

Pat Greiner

Dawn Myszka


President Ex Officio
Renee Harzewski

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Reilly offers PBW insight into Polish heritage and Pol-Am history

by Dawn Myszka,

PBW Historian

The Professional & Business Women of Polonia (PBW) held its dinner meeting Jan. 22, 2020 at the Creekside Banquet Facility in Cheektowaga.

All current PBW members were reminded to send in their annual membership renewals. The cost is still $50 which includes a subscription to the Am-Pol Eagle.

Christine Kibler reported that PBW board members have raised our annual scholarship award to $1,500. The deadline for applications is April 1. Anyone interested can obtain a copy of the application from the PBW website at pbwofpolonia.com. PBW will be continuing with Scholar-Rama, the scholarship fundraiser, and other fundraisers.

Sr. Mary Johnice Rzadkiewicz treated members and guests to some special chocolate covered candies. She and Sr. Rose Szymanski also thanked members for their generous donations to the Response to Love Center. They received gift cards and cash donations which will greatly help with meals for those in need. Sr. Johnice offered the dinner prayer.

The speaker for the evening was Edward Reilly, III, a religion instructor at St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute where he also serves as the business manager for the theater program. Reilly has a master's degree in theology from Christ the King Seminary. He is an assistant Scoutmaster for Supertroop 104 in Kenmore, a board member of the Polish Arts Club, and a pastoral council member of St. John the Baptist Church in Kenmore.

His presentation, titled “The Impact of Polish Immigration on the Civic and Religious Identity of the United States” outlined the integral role Poles have played in American history from Colonial times to today. Highlights Reilly presented included the following:

In 1608, the first Poles arrived in America. They were mostly craftspeople. These early Poles were brought by Captain John Smith and settled in the Jamestown colony 12 years before the Pilgrims had arrived in Massachusetts. The Poles made a vital contribution to the survival of the colony by digging wells to provide fresh drinking water. They distinguished themselves as hard and loyal workers. Poles were also recorded as having saved Captain John Smith's life during a raid on the Colony and captured an Indian chief.

In 1691, Polish settlers in the Jamestown colony accomplished another noteworthy achievement – they held the very first labor strike in America, not for better wages or working conditions, but because they did not have the right to vote. The colony's House of Burgesses realized the important role of Poles in the settlement's well-being and granted them the right to vote.

During the American Revolutionary War, Tadeusz Kosciuszko and General Casimir Pulaski, played important parts. Tadeusz Kosciuszko, known as "the father of American artillery service," masterminded the British defeat at Saratoga. In 1778, General George Washington commissioned Kosciuszko to build military fortifications at West Point. After the war, he had a lasting friendship with Thomas Jefferson.

Following a recommendation by Benjamin Franklin, Casimir Pulaski traveled to America to help in the revolution. He became a general in the Continental Army. Impressed with his bravery and courage, General George Washington allowed Pulaski to create his own legion that consisted mostly of Poles, Germans, and other immigrants. Today, nearly every state has a memorial to General Pulaski. In 2009, Resolution 26 was signed by President Obama naming Pulaski as an honorary citizen of the United States posthumously. He is one of only eight individuals to receive that honor.

Throughout the American Civil War, Poles fought on both sides. Captain Constantin Blandowski, a Polish-American, was the first Union officer to be mortally wounded.

After the Civil War, the migration of Poles to the U.S. increased. Some of the places where Poles settled were Pittsburgh, Buffalo, and Chicago. Polonia districts were eventually established in these cities with the Catholic Church being the centerpiece in each neighborhood. By 1910, 2 million Poles were living in the U.S.

In 1971, Buffalo's Polish population reached 300,000 and was the number one ethnic group in Erie County. There has been a steady decline since in the number of Poles living in Buffalo as people moved into the suburbs.

It is clear from Reilly's presentation that the arrival of the first Polish settlers in America marked humble yet significant events in American history and throughout the world, encouraging persons of all national origins  to reflect on the journey of their immigrant ancestors to the United States.









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