Polonia Centre (Windsor) Inc.

Polonia Centre (Windsor) Inc. is a Non Profit Organization for the Province of Ontario participating in cultural, educational and charitable events in and for the Polish Community of Windsor. Polonia Centre (Windsor) Inc. also provides financial contributions to various not-for-profit organizations within the Polish and the Canadian Community.

Polonia Centre (Windsor) Inc. Logo

 

 

Over 40 Years of Community Involvement

 

Vision

Msgr. Lawrence Wnuk of Holy Trinity RC Church called a general meeting of the Polish Community of Windsor at Dom Polski Hall on May 06, 1973 at which a newly elected Board of Directors were mandated to build a cultural and recreational centre for the Polish Community.  Msgr. Wnuk served as the spiritual leader of the Board and Mr. John Partyka, a local Real Estate Developer of Polish descent, became a Consultant for the upcoming projects.

Their first task was to purchase the recently closed, 5 story Gothic styled St. Mary’s Academy and it’s 32 acres of land with a goal of restructuring it into a Community Centre and Senior Citizens apartment complex.  While that purchase did not materialize, the Board reworked the original concept and laid the groundwork for the development of “Polonia Park”, an apartment and townhouse complex opened in 1980 valued at $13.5 million dollars.  Flowing from the success of the on-going development of the Polonia Park project, the dedicated volunteers turned their attention to the development of a recreational and cultural complex for the Polish Community.

 

Incorporation

On November 22, 1978, Polonia Centre (Windsor) Inc. was officially incorporated as a Non-Profit Organization for the Province of Ontario.  The Founding Members listed on the application for “Letters Patent” were:  Mitch Puklicz, Tadeusz Polewski, Wiktor Bas, John Stanley Partyka, Jan Zygmunt Armata, Henry Klamut, Joseph Partyka, Witold Polewski, Tadeusz Gajewski, and Stanislaw Niec.  The mandate of the Organization is to participate in cultural, educational and charitable events in and for the Polish Community of Windsor as well as to provide financial contributions to not-for-profit organizations within the Polish and Canadian Community.  In 1984, Polonia Centre (Windsor) Inc. was granted status as a Non-Profit Charitable Corporation.

In February 1984, the Board purchased 5.08 acres of land at the corner of Lauzon Parkway and Forest Glade Drive.  The ground-breaking ceremony for the Cultural Centre was held on August 24, 1984 with Federal, Provincial and Local dignitaries as well as members of the Polish Community in attendance.  The cost of the project was $5.2 million dollars.  Grants from the Federal-Provincial NEED Program, a Provincial Wintario grant and a loan through the National Bank of Canada provided the funding.  The Polish Community raised funds through Bingos and Las Vegas Casino Nights as well as other fundraising events.  With the sale of debentures, the total raised by the Polish Community topped $600,000.  The Cultural Centre’s official opening and dedication by His Excellency Bishop J.M. Sherlock was held on September 21, 1985.  Unfortunately, the Cultural Centre was forced to close in January 1990.  The financial obligations relating to the closure of the Cultural Centre totalled $1.5 million dollars including the bank loan and debenture indebtedness.  All financial obligations were fulfilled by December 1998, including the repayment of all debentures. Our gratitude is extended to Mr. Richard Kusmierczyk, President of the Board and all Board Members during this difficult period for their tireless effort to fulfill the financial obligations and to all debenture holders for their understanding and support.

A third initiative was the construction of a second housing project known as “Villa Polonia” under an organization registered as River Garden Homes in 1985.  It is important to note, that the “Polonia Park” housing complex, Polonia Centre (Windsor) Inc. and the “Villa Polonia” housing complex are three separate entities operated by separate Board of Directors.

 

Board of Directors

 

Polonia Centre (Windsor) Inc. 2021 Board of Directors: From Left to Right: Standing: J. Barycki, B. Niewitecka, G. Obierski. B. Koczwara, S. Polewski, J. Lauer, V. Wolanski, M. Kulesza, Sitting: E. Barycka, M. Uszynska, G. Koski, H. Roznawska

 

The Board of Polonia Centre (Windsor) Inc. consists of 12 members on five working committees.  Mr. Gerald Koski has served as President since 2003.  In 1983 and 1986 respectively, the Board established two profitable companies – PC Management Partners and Global Maintenance Company.  Prior to its’ dissolvement in 2018, PC Management Partners oversaw the management of real estate properties in Essex County, the Polonia Park housing complex and the Villa Polonia housing complex.  Global Maintenance Company provides interior and exterior services to residential and commercial properties in Essex County.  It provided maintenance services to the Polonia Park Housing Complex until 2017, continues a contract with the Villa Polonia housing complex and provides services to Windsor Essex Community Housing under contract with the City of Windsor.  The Global Maintenance office, opened in 2003, is at 5101 South National Street.   Since 2000, the steady flow of income from our business activities has allowed us to meet our mandate, financial goals and obligations.

Donations

With donations currently past the $1.2 million mark, we have continuously supported educational, cultural, sporting, humanitarian and religious efforts. One of the first donations made by Polonia Centre (Windsor) Inc. was in March 1981 for medical aid in Poland, followed by $3000 in December 1981 to the Polish Relief Fund.  Other recipients outside of the Polish community of Windsor have been, among others, the Polish Olympic Committee, 1997 Flood Victims of Poland and victims of the September 11th tragedy through the Salvation Army of Canada.  We have also assisted the fundraising efforts of the Polish Alliance Branch 20 Windsor and the Polish Ursuline Sisters of Windsor, both in their support of orphanages in Poland and Africa.

 

Locally, we have financially sponsored the Tatry Song and Dance Ensemble; Plomien Vocal and Theatrical Group; Polonia Sports Club; Polish Scouts of Windsor, Polish Canadian Student’s Association at the University of Windsor and the Polish Language School. A $50,000 donation was made to the Holy Trinity Church Renovation Fund and, in 2017, another $100,000 on the occasion of the church’s 100th anniversary. Youth church activities such as the 1999 Altar Servers trip to Poland and the 2016 World Youth Days in Krakow also received funding from our organization.

 

We sponsored Katarzyna Dziedzic, Miss International Canada 2003 and Marta Magdalena Stepien, Miss Universe Canada 2018, both members of our Polish Community.  The last remaining Polish Hall in Windsor – “Dom Polski” – has been the recipient of a 16 x 20 ft projection screen, a new piano, cutlery, china and the hardwood floor replacement in 2020. We were a “platinum or gold” sponsor of all five Polish Week in Windsor events organized by the Canadian Polish Congress Windsor-Chatham Branch.  In 2017, we partnered with the City of Windsor and contributed $10,000 towards the restoration of the Copernicus Astrolabium & Sun Dial in Jackson Park, originally erected in 1954 by the Polish community.

 

Polonia Centre (Windsor) Inc. has contributed annually towards the University of Windsor Leddy Library since 2000. Nearly $60,000 in donations has resulted in a collection of approximately 1200 books and DVD media by Polish authors or about Poland and Eastern Europe, which provides significant support to the students and faculty at the University of Windsor.  The Windsor Public Library has also been an annual recipient of funds, now totalling over $12,000, ensuring that reading material about Poland and/or by Polish authors is available to the Windsor community.

 

Scholarships

A Scholarship Fund was established in December 1981 to encourage and support young people of our Polish community in their pursuit of higher education with the first award being granted to Greg Puklicz in 1983.  We have since renamed the fund to The Polonia Centre Academic Awards Program which are presented to successful candidates at the undergraduate and graduate levels during the Annual Gala of Excellence Dinner held in October.  As of 2020, Polonia Centre (Windsor) Inc. has awarded over $460,000 in academic awards to Windsor students of Polish descent.

 

Cultural Committee

The Cultural Committee was formed in September 1985 and Board Member Barbara Koczwara has been the Chairman of this Committee since 1988.  Over the years, the committee worked with Polish Impresarios in Canada and the United States to bring cultural and entertainment events such as movies, musical groups, Polish artists, exhibitions and book sales to Windsor.  They uphold Polish Traditions such as “Dozynki”, “Sobotki” and “Paczki Day”.  The Committee organized fundraising dances, the Polonia Centre picnic at the Polish beach and the Annual Christmas Party.  The Committee has ensured that the Polish Community is represented at the Annual Canada Day Parade and at festivals in the Windsor and surrounding areas.  The Committee participates in the Annual Carrousel of the Nation’s “Polish Village” by overseeing the entertainment for the 3-day festival.  They have participated in all “Polish Week in Windsor” events and were actively involved in exhibitions in the community including the “Graphica Polska” exhibit at MacKenzie Hall in 1999 and the 20th Anniversary of the Solidarity Movement exhibit at the Windsor Main Library in 2000. The Committee organizes the Annual Gala of Excellence Dinner which recognizes the achievements of our graduating Polish Youth, the contributions of volunteers in our Polish community and where we extend our financial support to organizations, both Polish and English.

 

Website

In 2002, Polonia Centre (Windsor) Inc. established, funded and continually maintains a website for and about the Polish Community in Windsor.  This website provides valuable information including the history, achievements and upcoming events of all Polish Organizations in Windsor.

 

Going Forward

Polonia Centre (Windsor) Inc is as an integral member of the Polish Community of Windsor.  The Founding Members had a vision – past Board Members overcame enormous obstacles – the current Board and Committee Members strive to keep the vision alive.  We value our relationship with the various organizations of Polonia as well as the Windsor community.  By working together, we promote our culture and traditions and make the Windsor Polish community successful within our Canadian Society.

 

Author

Prepared by: Halina Roznawski
Vice President since 2001

Contact Information

Polonia Centre (Windsor) Inc.
5101 South National Street,
Windsor, Ontario, N8Y 4Z5

Telephone: (519) 944-2440
Fax: (519) 944-4851
Email: alicel@cogeco.net