51st Polish Heritage Month Awards Banquet (24 October 2021)

Welcome!

In this article you will find summary of our magnificent banquet.

We suggest that, first, you read the summary of the event eloquently written by Mr. Wojciech Niedzinski, our Corresponding Secretary. Next, we will introduce you to all our Awardees. We also hope that you will enjoy the (must see) video productions of our event – (a) trailer, (b) formal part and award ceremony, and (c) stunning artistic program “portraying Poland’s struggle for independence over the last two centuries”… and, of course, we recommend that you see our photo gallery.

We appreciate wide coverage by Polonia’s news organizations – please check their articles and photos. 

We hope that you will enjoy…  please share it with your fiends!

Thank you.

Roman Korczak
Executive Director


51st Polish Heritage Month Awards Banquet of the Illinois Division

Polish American Congress, Illinois Division (PAC IL) held the 2021 Polish Heritage Month Awards Banquet on Oct. 24 at the Allegra Banquet Hall in Schiller Park, Illinois. Even though the Covid restrictions are still with us and very stormy weather, approx. 300 people attended the banquet. Attendees represented a broad cross section of people from the world of politics, business, the Consular corps, Polonia organizations as well as representatives from the arts and academia.

Following the welcome remarks, PAC IL President Michael Niedzinski outlined organizations work and challenges during the last 24 months and memorialized two officers of PAC IL who passed away due to Covid last year – Andrzej Gedlek and Edward Praznowski.

Speakers included Frank Spula, president of the National PAC, who stressed importance of the Polonia organizations working together to achieve their goals. Agata Grochowska, Chicago Polish Consulate Vice Consul extended best wishes to PAC IL from the Polish government and Consulate. Other speakers included Antonio Munoz, Darren Bailey, Eva Dins Delgado, all State Senators and Melissa Conyers Ervin, City of Chicago Treasurer. All expressed congratulations and best wishes to PAC IL.

After the congratulatory speeches an artistic program was presented portraying Poland’s struggle for independence over the last two centuries, as exemplified by hundreds of thousands of Poles deported to Siberian Gulags. The show was created and choreographed by Walter Bochenek, PAC IL 1st vice President, with assistance from Anna and Jaclyn Krysiński, Principals of Polonia Ensemble. The moving and superbly executed performance by Polonia Ensemble was rewarded by a very long ovation. After the artistic program an excellent dinner was served.

During the dinner service the Heritage Month Awards were presented to various people recognized for their exceptional work and effort improving the image of, or educating the local community about Poland and Polonia, or providing direct assistance to members of Polonia.

This past year was exceptional due to the Covid epidemic and accordingly two main Heritage Awards were awarded this year – one to Dr. Marek Rudnicki for his many years of dedicated service to Polonia and another to the Polish Medical Society in Chicago, celebrating 75th Anniversary of its founding, represented by the Society President, Dr. Piotr Brukasz.

Several other awards were presented; Prof. Bożena Nowicka McLees from Loyola University received the Academic Award, Mark and Agnieszka Kowalczyk received the Business Award, five term Mayor of Justice, Illinois, Krzysztof Wasowicz received the Civic Award, and His Eminence, Andrzej Wypych, Auxiliary Bishop of the Chicago Archdiocese was awarded the Community Service Award. Bishop was unable to attend the Banquet, but came to the regular PAC IL meeting the following day to accept the Award. Prestigious Presidents’ Award was presented to Andrzej Sochaj, from Canada, for his continuing support of various Polonia organizations, incl. PAC IL. Mr. Sochaj is the owner of Cyclone Mfg. one of the largest airframe components suppliers to the world’s airplane manufacturers. Andrew and his wife, Elżbieta accepted the award from Michael Niedzinski, President of PAC IL.  The Philanthropic Award was presented to the Legion of Young Polish Women and accepted by their president, Kathy Evans Lesny for their 70 plus years of support to various charitable causes.

This year the PAC IL Polish American Foundation awarded the Humanitarian Award to Dr. Willie Wilson, a successful Chicago area businessman and entrepreneur who recognized the dramatic impact covid had on ethnic cultural and religious organizations. Dr. Wilson donated approx. $150,000 to various Polish organizations and Churches, as identified by PAC IL. Dr. Wilson was unable to attend and his representative Dr. Jillian Harris accepted the Award on Dr. Wilsons behalf.

Four more awards were presented to current and former members of PAC IL Board for their many years of dedicated service – Dr. Jan Plachta, Recording Secretary; Ewa Cholewiński, Treasurer; Walter Bochenek, 1st VP, Artistic Director and PAC IL “Voice of Congress” radio program host; and Bozenna Haszlakiewicz. Bozenna organized and led the effort to present last several Heritage banquets.

At the conclusion of the formal program, Ron Onesti, president of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans expressed his desire to form closer bonds between the Italian American ethnic group and Polonia. He also donated $800.00 to PAC IL.

After the formal proceedings were closed guests danced to hits of the last 50 years. Commentaries from guests indicate the banquet was a tremendous success.

Wojciech Niedzinski
Corresponding Secretary
PAC IL


2021 Polish American Heritage Months Awardees

(Click on the image to see all biographies.)

 

HERITAGE AWARD
MAREK RUDNICKI, MD, PHD, DSC

 

HERITAGE AWARD
POLISH AMERICAN MEDICAL SOCIETY

 

POLISH AMERICAN FOUNDATION HUMANITARIAN AWARD
DR. WILLIE WILSON

 

PUBLIC SERVICE AWARD
THE MOST REVEREND ANDREW P. WYPYCH, D.D.

 

ACADEMIC AWARD
BOŻENA NOWICKA MCLEES

 

BUSINESS AWARD
AGNIESZKA KOWALCZYK and MARK KOWALCZYK

 

CIVIC AWARD
KRZYSZTOF (KRIS) WĄSOWICZ

 

PHILANTROPIC AWARD
LEGION of YOUNG POLISH WOMEN

 

PRESIDENT’S AWARD
ANDREW SOCHAJ


Enjoy our Videos
(click on the image)

 

Short trailer

Part 1: Awards Ceremony

Part 2: Artistic Program (coming soon)

 


Click to Wiew Our Photo Gallery


Reports by Polonia’s Press (thank you!)
(click on image)

 

Courtesy Mr. Lukasz Dudka of “Polish Daily News, Dziennik Związkowy”.

 

Courtesy Mr. Andrzej Moniuszko of “Gwiazda Polarna”. 
Mr. Moniuszko traveled form Stevens Point, WI to participate in, and report on our event.

 

Advance this video to 18 min 55 sec mark to see report about our banquet.