Polish American Club flourishes with new members, events

Natalia Wiktorowski planted a kiss on the cheek of her grandmother Jadwiga Wiktorowska during Sunday's Polish Fest at the Polish American Citizens Club. Photo by Erica Manczuk

The Polish American Citizens Club is gaining new members and energy in recent months as a new generation of members undertake an overhaul of the club’s facilities and image. The club played a key role in Sunday’s big Polish Fest— which included a parade and outdoor celebration in the Polish Triangle, which straddles the Dorchester-South Boston border between Dot Ave and Boston Street.

Paul Ruzik, a twelve-year member and marketing director of the Citizens Club, says the festival is just one way that the rejuvenated club is re-connecting with the neighborhoods.

“In the recent years we’ve been trying to to bring back some of the culture and traditions of the past,” said Ruzik. “We recently brought back the Krakowiak Dancers who practice in our hall and perform all throughout New England.”

According to Ruzik, the chief purpose of the club has not changed much since its inception.

“The Club has been around since 1928, and most of us remember coming here with our parents when we were just kids,” said Ruzik. “We would like to continue improving the building and surrounding land, and to be a place where neighbors can gather.”

Peter Suchcicki has been an official member of the club for only one year, but has been participating in events for six years. Suchcicki shares Ruzik’s view.

“The club has changed and improved a lot over the years,” said Suchcicki, who is active in the Polish American Congress. “The involvement of more people has been a major change.”

The club now hosts the Krakowiak Polish Dancers of Boston and a Zumba class on Wednesday night. More people are coming to private events as well.

Suchcicki would like to see the club continue on its path of improving.

“I believe it’s necessary to utilize the building. I would also like for the club to re-start the tradition of an installation banquet,” he said.

The banquet, an old Polish American Citizens Club tradition, invited local leaders to the swearing in of new officers. According to Suchcicki, bringing back the tradition “would be beneficial to both the club and the local leaders, including an opportunity to do some fund raising.”

Looking into the club’s future, both Suchcicki and Ruzik would like to have community outreach meetings. “
We would be able to discuss plans and concerns our neighbors may have,” Suchcicki suggested. “I think this will help us continue on the path to being a true community gathering place.”

For Dorchester, the club has been a place for families celebrate and come together. The APCCSB holds an annual Toy’s for Tot’s drive and participates in the McCormack Civic Association wreath hangings, the Dozynki-Polish Fall Festival, and the renovation of the Pulaski Skyway. 

The group’s efforts in maintaining the adjacent Skyway— which spans the southeast expresswat— are incredibly important to the members of the club.

“We would like to make the Casimir Pulaski Monument something that all of Dorchester can be proud of,” Suchcicki said. “I believe we are on our way to that goal.”

Much of the new activities of the group have been incited by the rapidly growing group of new members.
“The younger generation that is leading the club has a more civic minded approach to things,” Suchcicki said. “Many of the leaders of the club grew up in the neighborhood, and want to ensure they keep traditions alive.”

There are many upcoming events that the American Polish Citizens Club is planning.

On Sunday, May 3 the club celebrating Polish Constitution Day with their own Polish Fest. Anyone in the Dorchester area was invited to attend. The event included an exhibit on the Polish Constitution and a Kielbasa Cook-Off, with live music all day.

“I feel extremely confident that the future is bright for the Polish Club,” Suchcicki said. “The Polish Club is a true gem in the City of Boston, and I think we will continue to survive and thrive for the years to come.”

The club’s facility at 82 Boston Street is the Club’s center for a number of events. To become a full member you need to be a American citizen of Polish descent with no criminal record. Non-Polish Americans can enter the club as an associate member. Anyone interested in learning more about the club can call 617-436-2786 or send an email to polishclub82@yahoo.com.

This article was edited on May 4 to reflect the fact that the Polish Fest was held on May 3.