HISTORY OF THE FLORIDA POLISH AMERICAN CONGRESS
The Polish American Congress of Florida was established in 1994 to unite the Polish American Community in the State of Florida. It was estimated at that time that the population of Florida with a Polish ethnic background was in the vicinity of 250,000 people. There was a need for this large ethnic group to attain some degree of identity and recognition in the State of Florida. With the liberation of Poland from domination by the Soviet Union in 1989, a need arouse to re-establish new links with Poland and help the new Poland to attain status as a full member of NATO and the European Community.
The Polish American Congress was incorporated by the State of Florida as a not for profit corporation in 1995. The first elected President of the Florida Polish American Congress was Dr. Zdzislaw P. Wesolowski, Professor of Aviation, Business and Economics at Florida Memorial University in Miami. The Florida Congress undertook a dynamic political action to help Poland enter the ranks of NATO. Contacts were established by Prof. Wesolowski with Senator Connie Mack and Congressman William Lehman with Senator Connie Mack leading the Florida delegation to assist the Florida Polish American Congress to have Poland join NATO. In a legislative session on the Senate floor, at the request of the Florida Congress, Senator Mack cast a crucial vote to have Poland admitted to NATO. Much later, Prof. Wesolowski a retired US Air Force officer, on behalf of the Polish Government presented Senator Mack with an engraved sword of honor in appreciation of his support for Poland and the Polish American Community in Florida.
In the years that followed, FPAC was instrumental in helping with humanitarian activities in Poland such as help for flood victims, medical equipment to Polish hospitals and academic and cultural programs. At the suggestion of FPAC, a Florida Polish American Chamber of Commerce was established to foster economic and international trade relations between Florida and Poland with Prof. Wesolowski as its President. Today, the Polish American Community in Florida numbers approximately 500,000. Having helped Poland in attaining its current status, the national Polish American Congress has now re-focused its activities in improving the political and economics status of Polish Americans in the United States. FPAC major mission will now be to undertake political activities that increase the visibility and political status of Polish Americans in the State of Florida. Prof. Wesolowski resumed the presidency of the Florida Polish American Congress in April of 2010.
Prof. Zdzislaw P. Wesolowski can be contacted at:
PO Box 291465
Davie, FL, 33329