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Polish Union of America - Life Insurance

Polish Union of America's History

Beginning in the last quarter of the 19th century, millions of immigrants came to America to work in its factories and farms. Some came for short term employment, but many stayed to raise families and to build homes, churches, and social institutions. All would encounter a harsh, foreign environment which was generally unsympathetic to their needs and wants. As with many other ethnic groups, Poles would face harsh discrimination in addition to the challenge of living within a society having unfamiliar language and customs. Like other ethnic groups, Poles would also address the challenge of the environment by creating new social networks and institutions. One such institution is the Polish Union of America - Unia Polska w Ameryce.

Late in 1889, Reverend Dean Jan Pitass, the pastor of St. Stanislaus Church in Buffalo, met in St. Paul, Minnesota with Msgr. Dominik Majer and other national leaders, for the purpose of organizing a new fraternal benefit organization. Initially, "Unia Polska w Ameryce" joined three existing parish societies from St. Adalbert's Church in St. Paul with the Sons of the Queen of Poland Society in Buffalo. On September 27, 1890, the new organization elected Joseph Jarosz as its first president.

For the first 25 years of its existence, the Polish Union of America was an unincorporated association serving as an umbrella for many parish societies. The location of the headquarters of the organization was subject to change at each national convention, and accordingly was relocated from St. Paul, Minnesota to Buffalo, to St. Paul, Minnesota, to Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, and then to Buffalo. At a bitter convention in Chicago in 1908, Buffalo was again chosen for the PUA's principal office and place of business, and the officers and for the succeeding two years were elected from members residing in Buffalo and its vicinity. Immediately after the convention, controversy and disagreement arose between the newly-elected officers and many of the societies in Pennsylvania. The result was the formation of a separate fraternal organization, which today is known as the Polish Union of the United States of North America. Despite efforts of nationally prominent people to reunite both factions, the split was confirmed in 1910, when the organization held separate conventions. Unfortunately, questions regarding the allocation of assets between the two organizations were resolved only after extensive litigation.

The original concept of the Polish Union of America was to unite the many mutual benefit societies that had sprung up at parishes throughout Polonia. Typically, a society would impose flat dues, in exchange for which a member's family would receive a stipend upon death to cover the cost of burial. Dues were set on a per capita basis, and were usually not adjusted for age. In other words, the societies did not calculate benefits based on any actuarial standard. Such practices violated state laws which were being implemented in the early part of this century. In 1914, the New York State Insurance Department advised the Polish Union of America that it was transacting business in violation of New York law, and that unless the association established a lawful status, the department would proceed to prohibit its transaction of business. Thereupon, the Polish Union of America undertook a campaign to procure the necessary number of insured persons to establish a fraternal benefit society under the insurance law of the State of New York. On February 16, 1915, the Superintendent of Insurance issued a preliminary Certificate to incorporate under the name of the Polish Union of America. The incorporation of the organization was completed on July 16, 1917.

During its first three decades, the Polish Union of America encountered many challenges in establishing itself as a viable fraternal organization. Even amidst the trauma of a major schism and the challenge of compliance with new requirements of New York law, the early leaders of the organization nonetheless took steps to establish a sound foundation for the future of the organization. Once such activity was the construction of a new home office in 1914 at 761-765 Fillmore Avenue in Buffalo, New York.

The construction of the Polish Union Hall represented a significant development not only for the Polish Union of America, but also for all of Polonia. Wladyslaw Zawadzki was commissioned to design this handsome building in the heart of Buffalo's Polish community. The significance of this development was not lost on the residents of Buffalo. As reported by the Catholic Union and Times for May 14, 1914, the groundbreaking for this facility was marked by a civic ceremony and a grand parade.

Since it's opening in 1915, the Polish Union of America has housed professional and business offices, the inter-war Polish Consulate, WHLD Polonia Varieties Radio studios, a library, a restaurant, the first headquarters of the Adam Plewacki American Legion Post, a printing company, a typesetting graphic art establishment, a large balconied auditorium, and the PUA general offices. As a keystone in Western New York's Polonia, the PUA building has hosted presidents, top government officials of America and Poland, and many distinguished personalities in various fields.

A multi-million dollar non-profit fraternal benefit society, the PUA today is the foremost society for Americans of Polish Heritage in the Northeast. Thousands of men, women, and children -- students, mechanics, Democrats, Republicans, physicians, printers, teachers, clergy, farmers, etc. -have shared in the programs and fraternal protection of the Polish Union of America for the last 100 plus years.

For thirty-five years, President Stanley E. Czaster guided the PUA to its incorporation, and through two World Wars, Korea, and the Great Depression. Before his death in 1953, he had served on the Buffalo Common Council, became the first of three PUA presidents to also head the half-million member New York Fraternal Congress, and was the first PolishAmerican on the Buffalo Board of Education. He was very instrumental in helping found several great Polonian organizations; the Catholic League for Religious Assistance to Poland, American Relief for Poland, Inc. and the Polish American Congress.

Mayor of the City of Lackawanna, New York, Walter J. Lohr, treasurer and president for a total of 39 years, led the PUA through the years that marked Christian Poland's Millennium, the consecration of our member Bishop Stanislaus J. Brzana as Ordinary of Ogdensburg, the founding of Villa Maria College, and the Issuance of a Millennium stamp by the U.S. Post Office in 1966.

During the 1970's -- the decade of John Paul, II, Muskie, and Brzezinski -- the PUA embarked on new programs and undertakings. The Polish Union of America has established itself as a leader in the defense of the rights of Polish Americans. It has promoted the cause of freedom in Poland and the preservation of Polish culture and heritage within our American pluralistic society. Highlights include new insurance and savings plans, the new PUA Parade publication, and an Educational Assistance program with thousands of dollars in scholarship aid to members. A Bicentennial poster series for schools and libraries featured contributions by those of Polish Heritage to America's growth. A no-charge Fraternal Orphan Benefit aids parentless children of PUA members with payments until each child reaches 18.

PUA members provided leadership support and functioned in a myriad of ways during the "Solidarnosc" movement for civil and religious freedom in Poland. Among the activities were trips and visits to Poland, media promotions, and various support drives including bonds, clothing, and food. PUA hosted numerous Polish lay and religious leaders and visitors to the USA.

PUA offered pro bono its Home Office at 761 Fillmore Avenue in Buffalo, New York to the Polish Community Center, Inc. (Dom Polski) to house their operation during a prolonged federally funded reconstruction of Dom Polski at 1081 Broadway in Buffalo, New York. PUA officers and directors contributed extensive time, leadership, and financial support for the success of the PCCB (Dom Polski) project.

The Polish Union of America stands in the forefront of combating the defamation of and discrimination against the 12 million Americans of Polish descent. The PUA organization has also worked tirelessly to advance the education of their members and to promote a greater appreciation of Polish Culture. The Polish Union of America's Scholarship Program has provided thousands of dollars of assistance to needy college students. The Polish Union of America has been the sponsor of numerous cultural programs. The PUA was a recipient of a grant from the New York State Bicentennial Commission, under which it conducted a series of lectures on the American constitution from a Polish ethnic perspective.

The 1990's provided PUA with an opportunity to conclude a full century of successful fraternal service to its members of Polish and Catholic heritage and to its Polish American heritage. The 1990's also provided PUA with opportunity for improvement and progress, and assuring the future for its members. In 1993 PUA's old home office at 761 Fillmore Avenue, Buffalo, New York, where generations of PUA members grew and developed, was passed on to a responsible religious organization and it continues to function as a community service center where God, Country, and Fellow Man continue to be honored, respected, and cared for.

Also, in 1993, PUA opened a new Home Office at 4191 North Buffalo Street in the Village of Orchard Park, New York, in a marvelous former bank building in a prestigious Western New York location. But within one year of opening the new Home Office in Orchard Park, several banks exerted efforts to influence PUA management to sell that building while at the same time increasing their offers to a point where it was un-economical to refuse, and the PUA National Board agreed to sell and the National Officers negotiated a price slightly three times more than what PUA paid for it less than two years earlier. Polish Union of America consider this to be a providential blessing and a reward to all PUA members. PUA National Board, through the efforts of a search committee of dedicated PUA board and non-board members, found their current location in West Seneca, New York and again, the real estate transaction proved to be not only an economic blessing but a more suitably functional business office building in the center of present Western New York Polonia into which PUA moved in May 1995.

Unia Polska w Ameryce -- is a story of PEOPLE helping PEOPLE. It is a story of fraternalism of thousands upon thousand of religious Americans, born here, in Europe, and elsewhere, joining hands to improve lives, and at the same time greatly contributing to the wealth and success of our Free Nation by adhering to and fostering the proud and rich Polish heritage and traditions.


Polish Union of America Products

A Solution for Your Needs . . .
Because of inflation, statistics show your need for life insurance protection has about doubled in the last ten years.

Presenting The PUA's New . . . Single Premium Ordinary Life Plan!
[Issue Ages 0-80]. Pay one premium only once and own this plan for life!

To enable you to get your money's worth and not be saddled with a long period of premium payments, the Polish Union of America presents the S-POL. A modern program based on the latest mortality tables, PUA's Single Premium Ordinary Life is a cash value insurance plan you can purchase with only one lump sum payment.

  • There are no future premiums necessary.
  • It's permanent insurance you OWN for life.
  • Almost the entire premium is available for cash or loan at the end of the first year.
  • Your guaranteed cash value continues to increase each year even though you pay no more premiums.
  • Dividends that may be issued after the 10th year can automatically purchase additional paid-up insurance.

The Polish Union of America, founded in 1890, is a Fraternal Life Insurance and Benefits Society nationally headquartered in West Seneca, New York. The PUA provides its members a full array of current and competitive Life Insurance Plans, Annuities, IRA's Orphan's Income Benefits, College Scholarships, and Fraternal Activities - these include educational, cultural, civic, sporting, religious, and social events.

Some of the PUA's programs are . . .

  • Ordinary Life. The Standard Whole Life contract which provides permanent protection, TAX-FREE CASH VALUE and dividends. Minimum issue is $5,000 coverage. Ages 0-80.
  • YearlyRenewable Term. Maximum protection at LOWEST COST. Ideal for those who would like a lot of coverage and who want to save money. This plan has no cash value. Minimum issue is $10,000 coverage. Ages 15-65.
  • Accumulator. An interest-sensitive program that combines Ordinary Life Insurance and an Annuity Rider to build a solid retirement fund which you cannot outlive. Minimum premium is $20 per month. Ages 0-55.
  • Annuities. These plans, both single premium and flexible premium, are always tax-deferred. They may also be tax sheltered when used as an IRA and can help supplement income with PUA's interest only product. Polish Union of America offer annual yields which are periodically reviewed. These plans provide Retirement Income which cannot be outlived. No age limits. Minimum deposit is $50.00.
  • Decreasing Term. Useful as a mortgage protection plan since coverage decreases as the mortgage principal decreases. $5,000 minimum. Ages 0-65.
  • Twenty Payment Life. Ordinary Life payable for 20 years, providing protection, cash value and dividends. Minimum $5,000 coverage or $150 annual premium. Ages 0-75.
  • Jet 25. Juvenile Expanding Term to age 25 is perfect for children, providing LOWEST-COST life insurance, guaranteed insurability and eligibility for scholarship benefits. $10,000 coverage for only $20 per year for males, $19 per year for females. Ages 0-23.

College scholarships and home mortgages are available to members. For further information, contact the Scholarship Committee or the Treasurer.

Ask about these or other new plans by calling your representative or Lodge Secretary today, or call the home office at: 1-800-724-2782 or 716-677-0220!


 

 

745 Center Road,
P.O. Box 288,
West Seneca,
NY 14224-0288

http://www.polishunion.com

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