American Council for Polish Culture Board Meeting in Trenton, NJ

Donna Chmara, Paul Bosse, Bozena Bienkowska.

Karol Nawarynski graduated cum laude from Alliance College in 1972 with a major in Polish studies. His service in the army included 21 years in the army reserve with the rank of Master Sergeant Throughout his professional work experiences he continued studies in financial and accounting fields. He is credited with rejuvenating the Trenton Polish Arts Club by expanding membership, renewing participation in the Pulaski Day Parade, organizing a bus tour of Polish Philadelphia, arranging for interesting speakers and entertainment and showcasing a traveling Polish culture exhibit. His enhancements to the Club’s annual Polonaise Ball included Polonaise performances. ACPC board members were delighted to participate Saturday evening in the Polonaise led by Richard Klimek and the PKM Dancers.

ACPC members will be fascinated to learn from a resume we obtained that the Trenton Club’s current president, Donna Chmara spent the first two years of her life in a Nazi prison camp and, at age seven, came to the U.S. as a displaced person. She quickly learned English and lived the American dream by walking through all the doors that opened for her as a result of hard work and the benefits of public education. A very brief summary of her accomplishments reveals that she earned an MA degree from Temple University in Philadelphia with a major in English; taught composition at the College of NJ, literature and composition at Trenton Central H.S., and ESL in Turkey as a Peace Corps volunteer. As director for the NJ Assoc. of School Administrators, she supervised all public relations and production of publications. She received an award of excellence for these publications from the Natl. Assoc. of Education Information Officers.

PKM Dance Group
PKM Dance Group

Maintaining a very timely schedule for the business meetings on Friday and Saturday, ACPC President Thaddeus Mirecki, elicited full reports from Committee Chairs with ample time for discussion and the decision processes. Mary Flanagan reported on the progress made by her Video Promotion Committee for the ACPC’s 60th Anniversary that will preserve an audio/visual documentation of the ACPC’s history.

Anna-Mae Maglaty, Membership Chair, reported that since our last board meeting the Council acquired 25 new individual members from 15 states and DC. The board members were also delighted to learn that the Polish American Center, John Paul II of Cleveland, OH, Ben Stefanski, Pres., had switched the Center’s association with the Council from Supporting Organization to Affiliate.

A hearty welcome was extended to the Polish Heritage Association of Maryland, Victoria Leshinskie, President, which accepted our invitation to join ACPC as a Supporting Organization.

Marion Winters, Pulaski Scholarships Chair, advised that the Committee had received a total of 16 applications from students in advanced studies from nine states and DC. The committee worked extensively to pick just five winners for the $5,000 awards from the list of highly qualified students and selected the following finalists:

Katarzyna Bugaj, PhD candidate Music Education, Indiana University

Mark Dojs, MA Fine Arts candidate, University of North Texas

Michal Uchmiak, PhD candidate Chemical & Biomolecular Engr., UCLA

Iga Wegorzewska, MD/PhD candidate, Washington University, St. Louis MO

Maciek Wojdakowski, MA candidate Intl. Studies & Intl. Relations & Economics, Johns Hopkins University, DC

The full story of the superior academic records and remarkable volunteer efforts of these Polish American students will be submitted to the press shortly so that all of Polonia can take pride in their achievements.

L/R - Mr/Mrs Donna Chmara & Henry Talarsky, student awardee Sophie Krasucki.
Pictured: L/R – Mr/Mrs Donna Chmara & Henry Talarsky, student awardee Sophie Krasucki.

Camille Kopielski, ACPC Scholarship Chair, was very pleased to report that competition for the $2,000 Summer Studies in Poland Scholarship was very keen. Nonetheless, Walter J. Wojcik of Bensalem, PA was the unanimous choice of the committee. Walter has an outstanding academic record, exhibits strong leadership abilities on and off campus, and his musical talents may be remembered when he entertained ACPC with the “Mummers” band in Philadelphia. May Walter’s first visit to Poland be all that he anticipates!

Mrs. Florence Beane, Past Pres. Polish American Cultural Network of Torrance, CA (PACN) presented the PACN’s $3,000 check to Camile Kopielski, Chairlady for ACPC’s Summer Studies in Poland Scholarship program This generous gift is deeply appreciated as it helps continue a program that gives young Polish American students the opportunity to attend a university of their choice in Poland for the summer.

A glowing report on the highly successful ACPC booth at the annual National Conference for the Social Studies in San Diego this past winter was provided by Barbara Lemecha. She and Co-Chair Henrietta Nowakowski had spent months in planning, soliciting funding and resource materials, creating posters and a resource CD. The team flew to California, set up the booth “Polish Perspectives” and manned it for 3 days with the able assistance of Debbie Majka and Robert Maycan.

Presentations to the countless teachers visiting the ACPC booth included references to the 400th Anniversary of Poles at Jamestown and the vital roles the Poles played at the settlement. Some public questioning of the authenticity of those roles has motivated Nowakowski to undertake very intensive research in an attempt to corroborate the vital services of the Poles at Jamestown. With Lemecha’s assistance she intends to continue pursuing the research vigorously, traveling to museums and libraries where resource materials may be found.

According to Director Marion Winters, Dr. Michael Wnuk, Exec. Dir. of our Affiliate, American Assoc. for Advancement of Polish Culture, is heavily involved with major cultural and educational projects in Poland at this time. Winters promised that full details of these vital programs will be presented at our Convention in Williamsburg VA.

Mr. Winters also displayed a copy of a beautiful “Photographic Exhibit Catalogue of the Polish Constitution of May 3rd, 1791” that has been drafted by Dr. Andrzej Pronczuk, Pres. Polish Cultural Fdn., Boston, with support from The Kosciuszko Fdn., The Polish Cultural Fdn. and the American Council for Polish Culture. Copies of the final publication will be available to all interested parties shortly.

Finally, Mr. Winters gave a brief report on the current status of the steady income from the Combined Federal Campaign – United Way for which he has been responsible for the past several years. Because the application process is a very demanding job, he provided the Executive Committee with a full copy of the current application and a detailed description of the application process to assist any future grants chairman.

A precise accounting of the ACPC’s financial status was provided by Gregory Biestek, Treasurer. Robert Maycan who chairs the Investment Committee followed with a detailed report of the Council’s major investments positions. He then introduced Mr. Paul Brahim, Executive VP of BPU Investment Management, Inc. Mr. Brahim gave a comprehensive overall analysis of the ACPC investment portfolio. He advised what is happening in the market now and the outlook for the future.

Past President Debbie Majka who is co-chairing the Council’s 60th Annual Convention with Past President Richard Wiermanski reported on the exciting plans for the Convention at Colonial Williamsburg, VA, Aug. 6-9, 2008 where we will be commemorating the 400th Anniversary of the First Polish Craftsmen, 1608—Jamestown Virginia –2008. For details, please visit our website,

Donna Chmara, Thaddeus Mirecki.
Pictured: L/R – Donna Chmara, Thaddeus Mirecki.

ACPC Board members expressed their gratitude for the gracious hospitality extended to them by the Trenton Club and were delighted for the opportunity to meet the charming and astute president, Donna Chmara. Members are also grateful to ACPC Director Paul Bosse, past president of the Polish Arts Club of Trenton, for his role in initiating this memorable occasion.

Hon. Robert & Carol Ogrodnik.
Dancing: Hon. Robert & Carol Ogrodnik.