The most effective Polish-American Freedom Foundation Local Partnerships were awarded at “Skwer” in Warsaw on October 17, 2013. The Newsweek Polska’s Civic Leader of the Year 2013 was also announced. The title went to Aneta Obcowska, who manages a medical center for the homeless in Warsaw. The special guest at the event was Minister of Labor and Social Policy Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz.
The meeting was opened by Jerzy Koźmiński, PAFF President and co-host of the meeting, who welcomed the guests and reminded the key goal of the “PAFF Local Partnerships” Program. He emphasized that this is a unique, cross-sectional initiative on the map of the Foundation’s undertakings because it serves initiating and developing cooperation of various PAFF programs participants who jointly carry out projects important to their local communities and often engage other social life actors in their implementation.
Local partnerships comprising self-governments, NGOs, firms and local media emerge in communes where several projects financed within PAFF programs have been carried out. They are led by the Act Locally Centers participating in another PAFF’s Program – “Act Locally”. ‘The “PAFF Local Partnerships” were initiated as an experiment but after four years of their operation we can say with satisfaction that the experiment turned out to be successful. The partnerships build synergy between various Foundation’s undertakings, which is vital since it maximizes their social impact. And the most important is that the projects carried out by the partnerships are not one-off undertakings. Their members learn how to cooperate and this serves well the purpose of building and reinforcing the social capital” – said the PAFF President.
The special guest at the event was Minister of Labor and Social Policy Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz, who referred in his address to the idea of civic leadership, which is identified with Jacek Kuroń. Minister Kosiniak-Kamysz reminded that it was Kuroń’s initiative to start awarding the title of the “Civic Leader of the Year” in response to Wisława Szymborska’s request. This has later been continued by Newsweek Polska weekly and its partners.
“Jacek Kurnoń’s voice still hangs in the air not only at the Ministry of Labor but also at every place where there are people who carry his ideas,’ said Minister Kosiniak-Kamysz. He emphasized that Jacek Kuroń as the author of the social policy in independent Poland is unrivaled both for himself and for all those who work for the common good. “You continue his work,” he added, addressing the participants in the meeting. He also pointed out that such work results in building Polish social capital and thus caring for better Poland.
In the first part of the event, awards were presented to three most effective partnerships which to the highest extent contributed to the building of the local social capital. Joanna Lempart-Winnicka, PAFF Program Officer and Paweł Łukasiak, President of the Academy for the Development of Philanthropy in Poland, which has been the Program Manager since 2009, briefly outlined the aim of the competition.
Prizes in the amount of PLN 30,000 went to:
– the PAFF Local Partnership whose leader is “Europe and We” Association operating in the area of six communes – Grodzisk Mazowiecki, Milanówek, Podkowa Leśna, Żabia Wola, Jaktorów, and Baranów. The partners have carried out a joint project of “Your neighborhood TV”, under which the local Internet civic TV co-created by residents and volunteers was established.
– PAFF Local Partnership whose leader is the Biłgoraj Community Fund Foundation operating in the area of Biłgoraj and Zwierzynie, for the “S.O.F.A. Space” (Solidary, Open, Free, Active) project of the public park development and making there a common space for residents.
– PAFF Local Partnership whose leader is LGD Drawa Partnership operating in Drawsko Pomorskie and Złocieniec. Under the Drawsko and Złocieniec Firecracker Friendship project they managed to restore friendly relations between residents of those two towns who had once fought for the right to the cannon. For several months the residents had carried out joint preparations to reconstruct the historical battle during which the mayors of the two towns entered into an alliance.
So far, 22 coalitions operating in 49 communes with participation of over 300 institutions and almost 5,000 volunteers have been established under the “PAFF Local Partnerships” Program. These coalitions have carried out various activities, among other objectives, aimed at the development of social space, improvement of the natural environment condition, creating the regional product or preserving cultural heritage in the region. A total of more than 55,000 residents have been the recipients of these projects.
“Civic leader or only an enthusiast?” on the extent of community involvement in Poland. The discussion was participated by: Tomasz Schimanek, expert from the Academy for the Development of Philanthropy in Poland; Krzysztof Margol, President of the “Nida” Development Foundation and the Civic Leader of the Year 2009; Paweł Łukasiak, President of the Academy for the Development of Philanthropy in Poland; and Jan Kuroń, Jacek Kuroń’s grandson, member of the Civic Leader of the Year Competition Committee. The debate moderator was Justyna Dżbik.
“The engagement of the civic leader in the work for the benefit of a given community results in the creation of the common good used by all. If there is no leader, there is no one there to trigger social energy,” said Paweł Łukasiak. “Being a community worker is a privilege but also a great responsibility. Giving yourself to others is not easy,” Jan Kuroń summed up the debate.
In the second part of the ceremony, the results of the Newsweek Polska’s competition for the title of the Civic Leader of the Year were announced. The Polish-American Freedom Foundation is the main partner in this competition, and the Academy for Development of Philanthropy in Poland is its strategic partner. The competition is held in reference to Wisława Szymborska’s initiative from 1996, later taken by Jacek Kuroń and “SOS Social Assistance” Foundation. The purpose of the competition is to award community work in Poland and promote activities aimed at solving various social problems which are carried out by individuals as well as non-governmental organizations, informal groups or local government standing behind them.
The Civic Leader of the Year 2013 title went to Aneta Obcowska, who was presented with the statuette by Tomasz Lis, Editor-in-chief of Newsweek Polska.
The winner of this year’s edition is a member of the Warsaw Branch of the Doctors of Hope Association Board and the manager of the medical centre for the homeless in Warsaw as well as a surgeon at Praski Hospital in Warsaw. The Competition Committee awarded her for the selfless assistance to the homeless by giving them access to free medical care and treatment, effective combating of serious social problem and involving herself in joint activities supporting needy medical students, doctors and many other people. “The prize which I’ve received today is also the prize for volunteers working at the medical centre for the homeless in Wola district in Warsaw and in the medical centre in Kraków. Those people have selflessly and with great involvement helped homeless people for many years, despite many adversities and personal problems. I wish to thank them in this way for their hard and excellent work. The best reward for what we do is a smile of those to whom our work goes,” said Aneta Obcowska, the Civic Leader of the Year 2013.
The ceremony gave an opportunity for a conversation between the winner of competition and the Editor-in-chief of Newsweek Polska. “You are a doctor working on a number of full-time jobs. How do you find time for your work for the homeless?,” Tomasz Lis asked. “My day is 24 hours and of course I could do other things instead of volunteering, but I don’t regret. It gives me energy,” answered Aneta Obcowska.
The Competition Committee has also awarded two distinctions. They went to:
– Krystyna Wechmann – founder and President of the Poznań Amazon Society, founder of the first Amazon club in Poland, three times elected as President of Federation of Amazon Societies, initiator and Vice-President of the Polish Cancer Patients’ Coalition. Ms Wechmann was awarded with the distinction for long-term work for the benefit of women suffering from breast cancer, their recovery and good quality of life, for work aimed at introducing the highest standards of cancer diagnosis and treatment and for effectiveness of involvement in community work resulting in gathering together both needy people and individuals as well as institutions ready to help them.
– Anna Czerniak, founder and President of the Board of the “Dr Clown” Foundation for long-term work for the benefit of sick children in hospitals, development of volunteering, innovativeness and deep involvement in community work and encouraging many people and institutions in Poland to join the initiative of laughter therapy.
More than a hundred candidates were submitted to this year’s edition of the competition. The Competition Chapter comprised Tomasz Lis, Editor-in-chief of Newsweek Polska; Jerzy Koźmiński, President of the Polish-American Freedom Foundation; Paweł Łukasiak, President of the Academy for Development of Philanthropy in Poland; Bożena Walter, President of the TVN Foundation “You Are Not Alone”; Przemysław Radwan-Röhrenschef, Director General of the School for Leaders Association; Jan Kuroń, a chef, grandson of Jacek Kuroń; Michał Rusinek, lecturer, translator, writer, former secretary to Wisława Szymborska; Renata Kim, head of the “Society” section, Newsweek Polska.
The ceremony was hosted by Justyna Dżbik, journalist of the Polish Radio.
More about the “Polish-American Freedom Foundation Local Partnerships” can be found at www.lokalnepartnerstwa.org.pl
More about the Newsweek Polska competition for the title of the “Civic Leader of the Year” can be found at www.spolecznikroku.newsweek.pl