Story submitted by Jo Louise Winters, PR Chair

Awarded to

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Zygmunt Matynia, Counsel General of the Republic of Poland, presented the Republic of Poland's prestigious Zloty Krzyz Zaslugi (Gold Order of Merit Cross) to Ms. Barbara Lemecha and Ms. Henrietta Nowakowski on Friday, May 4, 2012. The ceremony took place at the Polish Consulate in Chicago.

Ms. Lemecha and Ms. Nowakowski were recognized for performing many valuable services over the years promoting Polish Culture, Heritage and History in their State of Michigan as well as throughout the United States. In addition to their very active roles within the Friends of Polish Art Club ­ Detroit, both ladies play very active roles in a number of other Polonian organizations. They played a very important role serving as co-chairs for many years for the American Council for Polish Culture's notable participation in the annual National Conference for the Social Studies.

The National Conference for the Social Studies (NCSS) is an annual national gathering of several thousand teachers and educators from all across the USA. It is at these annual conferences that Ms. Lemecha and Ms. Nowakowski displayed their skills, talents and creativity. They designed a superior booth that they labeled "Polish Perspectives" with very attractive large posters featuring Poland's noble history, heroes, greatest leaders, scientists, artists, authors, etc. that fascinated and consistently attracted teachers who returned to the booth year after year for more of the free high quality handouts of informative publications, posters, as well as audio/video discs. The visitors to the booth also loved the free Polish sweets! The posters, pamphlets, books, book markers, CD's, etc, ready for display and practical use in classrooms across the country were available each year thanks to the generosity of Polonia organizations and individuals.

These two remarkable co-chairs kept refining and polishing up the "Polish Perspectives" booth year after year. They emphasized the goal of this program to provide teachers with precise and accurate information about Poland and its peoples that they can pass on to students at all levels in interesting and exciting formats. The program's success is clearly evident in that often the educators realized/admitted to having incorrect or false information about our fatherland. A further desired aim of the team was to provide information in forms/styles that would further arouse the curiosity of students and lead them to want to learn more about Poland's historic roles in America's battles for freedom and in its own struggles for freedom, and the rich contributions to society attributable to the works of Polish and Polish-American great scientists, writers, and artists.

It should be pointed out that the Polish Perspectives Booth involved many hours of labor on the part of these two determined women ­ soliciting and gathering cartons of books, pamphlets, CD's, and posters; shipping them each year to the Conference sites in different States; setting up the booths, manning them for three days, and finally dismantling the booth. There was, of course, the personal travel involved each year. Lemecha's and Nowakowski's further contributions to the program were fiscal ­ they never sought nor received reimbursement for their extensive travel costs, transportation, housing and meals. It should be pointed out that each year, Lemecha and Nowakowski were assisted in the manning of the booth by two or three ACPC volunteers and occasionally by a local Polonia volunteer. (Current Co-Chairs , Mr. & Mrs. Cecilia & Raymond Glembocki, announced that the "Polish Perspectives Booth" will be featured at the National Conference for the Social Studies on Nov. 16-18, 2012 in Seattle, Washington).

It is not only the American Council for Polish Culture, but all of Polonia that owe Barbara Lemecha and Henrietta Nowakowski expressions of deep appreciation for their outstanding work in bringing the accurate and true picture of Poland's history and its outstanding contributions to society to the attention of teachers, educators, and students. Together, we offer our hearty congratulation to them for receiving the prestigious Polish government's Golden Service Crosses awards.

Photographs from the Ceremony

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1. (l. to. r.) Henrietta Nowakowski, Consul Zbigniew Matynia, Barbara Lemecha

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2. Henrietta Nowakowski receives medal

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3. Barbara Lemecha receives medal