Convention participation is one of the major benefits of ACPC membership.

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2022 Convention, the Polish Heritage Center in Panna Maria, Texas

The ACPC Council meets each year in a convention at sites around the country, usually sponsored by its affiliate organizations. After the fall of communism, the Council was the first American-Polonia organization to hold its convention in free Poland in 1991, in the historic town of Pułtusk. This was followed by three more: in 2002 in Kraków, 2006 in Gdańsk and 2019 in Warsaw. In addition, Council-sponsored conventions outside the U.S. were held in 1997 and 2017 in Toronto, Canada. The 75-th Anniversary Convention took place in 2023, in the Detroit, Michigan area, where the ACPC came into being in 1948.

A Personal Recollection and Invitation to ACPC Conventions

by Thomas Payne, ACPC former President

My first ACPC Convention was in 2010 in Rapid City SD. I had been a member of an affiliate organization for ten years and had heard about these Conventions, but had never been directly invited to attend, so I never realized what I had been missing. But as a newly elected affiliate president, I felt an obligation to attend this one.

What I discovered was a passageway to a new Polonian world much like Columbus’ discovery of America. Yes, there were enjoyable excursions to Mt. Rushmore and the monumental work-in-progress sculpture of Crazy Horse carved out of mountainous rock by a Polish artist and his family. But more impressively, my eyes were opened by the self-sacrificing dedication of Polonians from scattered locales, all coming together cooperatively to advance cultural interests that benefit Poles both young and old.

2017 Convention, Ontario, Canada. (Standing) Tom Payne, Mary Ellen Tyszka, Robert Synakowski, Anthony Bajdek

It struck an emotional chord within me to witness many in their golden ages using their time and resources, not for personal gain or hedonistic pleasure, but to make a difference in raising pride in Polish heritage and dispelling the negative stereotypes of Poles that were pervasive in American culture. This was only seven months since my mother Elaine, who had attended these very same Conventions, had passed away. Most attendees knew my mother and spoke fondly of her and this brought tears to my eyes and impelled me to close my eyes and ask her why she had not invited me to attend before.

I learned of projects to establish historic markers to honor Polish American achievements, projects to educate the social studies teachers about Polish contributions to the world, and many other activities to raise pride in our heritage.

I conclude by saying that it is not necessary to be an ACPC member to attend one of our Conventions. We do not care about your political affiliation or the depth of your involvement in Polish cultural activities. You will not be put on the spot to speak and you will not be solicited for a donation. I promise that you will learn new things to share with our friends and family when you return home. You are warmly invited and welcomed to attend and make new friends.

Bus tour during my first 2011 Convention in Rapid City, SD