Almost 250 people involved in various ways in social activity attended the event, including representatives of network of 77 Act Locally Centers and 45 PAFF Local Partnerships.
The ceremony was opened by Jerzy Koźmiński, PAFF President and CEO, who noted that both the Foundation and “Act Locally” Program, one of first and biggest programs run by the Foundation, are celebrating their 20th anniversary this year. He also pointed to the fact that many-year of consistent implementing the mission of supporting local community development by the Foundation has translated into certain achievements which can be presented in impressive numbers – almost 11,500 projects have been implemented under “Act Locally” Program, involving 220 000 volunteers and almost 4 million residents, and the Network of Act Locally Centers has increased from a few to 77 member organizations. President Koźmiński put also emphasis on the extent and importance of “PAFF Local Partnerships” Program which for over 10 years has been connecting and supporting intersectoral cooperation of NGOs, companies and local governments. In that context he pointed also to another important anniversary celebrated in 2020, namely the 30th anniversary of Polish self-governance. In conclusion, he pointed to the significant role played by civic leaders saying that without them we wouldn’t be able to achieve so much over 20 years. He also assured that “we will continue to make joint efforts to work for the common good”.
During the first part of the Gala, the winners of the “Civil Leader of the Year 2019” Newsweek Polska competition were honored. It started with the address given by Newsweek Polska vice editor-in-chief Dariusz Ćwiklak, who told about the history of the competition, dating back to 1996 Wisława Szymborska’s initiative, which was taken up by Jacek Kuroń and SOS Social Assistance Foundation. The objective of the competition is to award social activity in Poland and promote activity of individual people who are solving various social problems with the support of NGOs, informal groups and local government institutions. Polish-American Freedom Foundation is the main partner, and the Academy for the Development of Philanthropy in Poland the substantive partner of the competition. Vice editor-in-chief Ćwiklak expressed his admiration for civic leaders who have ideas how to make the world better and are willing to keep implementing them despite all obstacles they meet on their way.
The winners of the competition are selected by the Competition Committee composed of: Renata Kim, Head of the Society section, Newsweek Polska; Jerzy Koźmiński, Polish-American Freedom Foundation President; Jan Kuroń, Jacek Kuroń’s grandson and a cooking expert; Tomasz Lis, Newseek Polska Editor-in-chief; Paweł Łukasiak, President of the Academy for the Development of Philanthropy in Poland; Przemysław Radwan-Röhrenschef, Vice President of the School for Leaders Foundation; Michał Rusinek, President of Wisława Szymborska Foundation, and Janina Ochojska, President of the Polish Humanitarian Action.
The Civic Leader of the Year2019 title was awarded to:
In the nationwide category – Elmi Abdi, President of Foundation for Somalia – for exceptional efforts to improve immigrants’ situation and image in Poland by offering comprehensive care to all foreigners coming to Poland, such as professional support from lawyers, job advisors, psychologists, and intercultural assistants of the Foundation Team managed by him, as well as for educational activities such as multicultural lessons for children and young people at public schools.
In the local category, ex aequo:
- Janusz Owsiany, Monopol Warszawski Association – for many years of activities aimed at revitalization of North Praga district of Warsaw, including co-authoring of the concept of Praga Koneser Center, revitalization of Żabińskis Residence in Warsaw Zoo, and saving the complex of historical buildings in Ząbkowska Street, as well as consistent efforts to improve the situation of war veterans which led to establishing the Day Center for Warsaw Insurgents in 2018.
- Andrzej Górz of Open Jazdów Partnership for triggering civil courage and local community involvement in protecting unique Jazdów Estate in Warsaw against demolition and for his initiative of transforming that historically and socially valuable area into the space open to educational, social and cultural initiatives where people can reach understanding of each other and build relationships based on trust.
Moreover, the Competition Committee awarded three special awards. They went to:
- Urszula Duda, Principal of Fairy Tale Independent Therapeutic Elementary School in Suwałki – for many years of activities for the benefit of autistic people and their families and for active support for social and professional independence of people with disabilities through establishing an innovative vocational school that prepares them to start working.
- Artur Kolasa, President of Rehab Foundation for his active work aimed at stopping family violence, for his involvement in individual resocialization work with family violence perpetrators and initiating self-help groups, as well as work for the benefit of juvenile correction centers and promoting positive models of parenting.
- Zdzisław Kuczma, President of Rybnik Smog Alert for introducing the air pollution problem into the public debate and consistent campaigning for man’s right to live in clean environment as well as for cooperating with local authorities and ecological organizations that resulted in adoption of an anti-smog resolution in Śląskie Province.
The summing-up of that part of Gala was an interview with the competition winners conducted by Renata Kim, head of the Society section, Newsweek Polska.
The second part of the event started with the video on experience gained by representatives of Act Locally Centers, their grantees, leaders and local partners over the years of “Act Locally” and “PAFF Local Partnerships” Programs implementation. Next, Paweł Łukasiak, President of the Academy for the Development of Philanthropy in Poland thanked all those who care and work for the good of their communities. “The 20th anniversary of Act Locally program is also the right moment to thank local donors and partners, as well as celebrate and collect all the social energy that was generated,” President Łukasiak said and wished everybody another 100 years of successful local activity.
After that, President Łukasiak and President Koźmiński presented diplomas to representatives of 6 new organizations which have joined the Network of Act Locally Centers. These were the following:
- Horizon360 Foundation of Wielogłowy, Małopolskie Province,
- The Land of Three Rivers Local Activity Group Association of Oborniki, Wielkopolskie Province,
- The Piast Trail Local Activity Group of Łubowo, Wielkopolskie Province,
- Czarnków-Trzcianka Local Activity Group of Czarnków, Wielkopolskie Province,
- Local Space Foundation of Błażowa, Podkarpackie Province,
- Dobra Widawa Local Activity Group of Oleśnica, Dolnośląsie Province.
Also, the successes and achievements of the VI round of “PAFF Local Partnerships” participants were summed up. These were 7 partnership projects implemented over 2018 and 2019, and tasks were performed by 3 start-ups. A total of 142 partners and over 16,000 residents were involved in activities for local communities common good. All projects met the local needs that had been diagnosed in extraordinary way that exceeded the planned frames. Mentioned were those partnerships which especially benefitted from other PAFF programs experiences and resources, have built the most varied, multisectoral coalitions and whose activities led to the most noticeable changes in their communities.
The prize of PLN 20,000 went to the local partnership implementing the Train to Tradition project for above-average effectiveness in building local identity of residents and increasing their awareness of the regional cultural heritage which allowed Fablok, the first and non-existent at present Polish Locomotive Factory become the pride and attraction of Chrzanów; for involving an impressive group of partners in organizing numerous workshop sessions and competitions, and engaging almost all community into intergenerational integration activities aimed at creating the digital archives and marking the walking and biking trail showing places related to the history of Fablok. The second prize of PLN 15,000, was received by the local partnership involved in A-R-M Square – We Act-Relax-Motivate project for transforming the neglected square near a public library into a lively cultural area in the town center and the model engagement of various partners, including the public library, schools, Third Age University, various companies and individual people in creation of secure, open and facilitating residents’ activity area in Krotoszyn.
The ceremony was crowned with a performance by Krzysztof Kiliański and his Band. The host of the Gala was Agnieszka Hyży.