In February of 1996, the founding members of PACBA – Jacek Tomczyk, Andrzej Wojtaszek, Zenon Golba, Adam Steinberg, Mieczyslaw Sulicki, Jan Baldowski, Walter F. Bochenek, Jerzy Ucinski, Lester Surowiec, Andrzej Kolopolewski, Wladyslaw Krawiec, Krystyna Hryszko, Jerzy Hryszko, Jerzy Posorski, Jacek Moszczynski, Jozef Wiecek – gathered to create the agenda of the first official meeting, which was to take place in April. This meeting would decide the organization’s name and establish its fundamental bylaws. The proposed name was the Polish American Contractors Builders Association – PACBA.
On April 26, the first primary meeting occurred were the name and bi-law was proposed. After 3 months of preparations a newborn PACBA was created on May 3 1996. May 3rd, is an important day in Polish history because May 3rd 1791 was proclaimed Poland’s Democratic constitution, the first in Europe and the second in the world after United States of America. May 3rd is not only the anniversary of the Polish constitution, but also of PACBA’s creation. On the first official meeting the bylaws and name was voted upon by the majority: PACBA – Polish American Contractors Building Association. The first annual meeting on May 3rd was attended by representatives from 84 different companies and ten supporting members. During the first official general meeting we elected first Executive Committee of PACBA as follows: Walter F. Bochenek, President, Jerzy Ucinski, Vice President, (Coordination), Andrzej Wojtaszek, Vice President, (Promotion), Leszek Surowiec, Vice President, (Economy & Finance), Zenon Golba, Vice President, (Information), Barbara Augustyn, Treasury, Krystyna Hryszko, Secretary, and other board members. In June a new PACBA logo was selected from a wide competition of 70 different mailed-in propositions. The logo designed by Piotr Ekiert won the majority of votes.
In February of 1997, we celebrated the end of our successful first year with the first ever PACBA Ball! We danced the night away in the rhythm of the two-by-four. Soon after, we had the honor to participate in the Third of May Polish Constitution Day Parade. Our historical float won first place as the best and most appealing float in the entire parade. In May, legendary Polish actor, Jan Kobuszewski, was crowned Honorary Master of PACBA for his famous comedy sketches portraying the sometimes rocky relationship between contractors and their clients. On July 24, PACBA joined the relief effort for the victims of the largest flood to ever devastate Poland. One third of Poland was affected by this destructive event. PACBA decided to build three homes for the flood victims, gratis. The new homes were built in the American-style construction. We chose Stanowice, near Wroclawia, a location that had an astounding unemployment rate of 27%. As we built the new homes, we also trained the residents of this area in the American style of frame construction. After the completion of the three homes, the residents received the tools used during construction. The three families we chose – Grazyna and Mariusz Kruk, Anna and Henryk Dominski, and Barbara and Franciszek Mamczur – lost their homes in the flood and were seeking help from the county in rebuilding their community. The construction of these homes began in November and continued into the next year.
In February of 1998, we began the year with the second annual PACBA Ball. All proceeds from the Ball were dedicated to the construction of the homes for the flood victims. During this Ball, we also bestowed the first Golden Nail Award to Lou Silver, president of Remodeler’s Supply. This 24-karat “common nail” is the highest honor granted to non-member affiliates of PACBA for their extraordinary support. In April on a little street named Chicago in the village of Stanowice near Wroclaw, Poland, we held a ceremony officially ending the construction of two of the flood victims’ homes and gave the keys away to their rightful owners. We were still seeking aid in order to finish the third home. PACBA’s historical float in the Third of May Parade attracted many compliments and attention in many American media sources. The most notable was a photo of the “PACBA Knight” in the Chicago Sun Times. On August 2nd, PACBA held a family picnic celebrating Father’s Day. A few thousand supporters took part in the festivities as they enjoyed performances, family activities, and of course, plenty of food. In addition to its numerous ventures, PACBA held many seminars and professional training sessions in various topics including law, safety, and construction techniques. The year ended with more groups of contractors flying to Poland to finish the third home for the flood victims.
On January 9, 1999, PACBA met in Springfield to celebrate the inauguration of Governor George Ryan. On February 6th, PACBA celebrated the end of another successful year at the annual Ball. Among the distinguished guests, we welcomed many who journeyed from Poland to thank us in person for our assistance for the flood victims. From the meetings with these Polish officials there arose a need to introduce American building technologies in Poland on a larger scale. The meetings also focused on strengthening the ties between American and Polish manufacturing companies. In April, we gave the last set of keys to third home for the flood victims to its new owners, bringing “Action PACBA – For the Flood Victims” to a close. The estimated value of these homes had they been built on the US soil was approximately $360,000. After the Third of May Parade, PACBA decided to organize a trade show PACBA Expo 2000 for American manufacturers and Polish companies in the field of construction. In the fall, the committee overseeing the organization of the PACBA Expo 2000 was elected – its members were Walter F. Bochenek – Chairman & CEO, Les Surowiec – President EXPO’2000, Grazyna Auguscik- Art Even Coordinator, Andrzej Kolopolewski- President of Finance, Bogdan Kulikowski – Chief Operational Officer, Jerzy Ucinski – Vice President of Operation, Marek Zelek – Operational Officer, Jane Kulibaba – Chief Financial Officer, Justyne Jablonska – Promotion Officer, Margaret Wrona – Chief of Promotion, Katherine Karpinski – Chief of Marketing, Malgorzata Goralczyk – Markieting Officer – and representatives began meeting with US and Polish government officials in Washington D.C. and Warsaw.
On February 12, 2000, PACBA held its annual Ball and dedicated the proceeds to the PACBA Expo 2000. PACBA also joined the largest organization of contractors in the United States – the National Association of Home Builders. In April at the International Builder%EJC5ference in Budapest, Hungary, representatives of PACBA, Walter F. Bochenek and Barbara Chalko delivered presentation to the representatives of professional building associations, developers, and large construction companies from Europe and the United States. In May, representatives of PACBA held in Warsaw the first Polish-American conference at the Polish Congress regarding new home construction in Poland. The first PACBA Expo was held on September 3, 2000 in the village of Stanowice near Wroclaw, Poland. The honorary guests of the PACBA Expo and the Music Festival were mother of Michael Jordan, Dolores Jordan, president of the James Jordan Foundation and her daughter, Rosaline Jordan. Over fifty American companies represented the United States in the Expo.
In February of 2001, the Ball was driven by PACBA Expo 2001, which was to take place in the capital of Poland, Warsaw. As a part of its mission to train Polish builders in the American-style of construction, PACBA translated master-builder Larry Haun’s book, The Very Efficient Carpenter into Polish – Nowoczesny Ciesla. The PACBA Expo 2001 took place at the beginning of September. Part of the Expo was a model home built by PACBA less than half a mile from the King’s Castle, which accommodated a few thousand tours of curious visitors. In preparation for the Expo, PACBA signed an agreement with the National Polish Home Builders Association. Among the many guests who came from the United States to participate in the Expo were Illinois State Treasurer, Judy Bar Topinka, and master-builder, construction book writer – Larry Haun.
The 2002 Ball marked the end of many successful international undertakings as PACBA decided to concentrate on its domestic goals. The year was primarily occupied with seminars and the creation of a standardized contractor-owner agreement. In May, PACBA again won first place in the Third of May Parade for its unique 75-foot long float in the shape of a space shuttle.
In 2003, PACBA began preparations for a new kind of Expo. This time, the PACBA Expo 2004 would take place in Chicago and would include a completely new kind of charitable effort. The seminars and training sessions continued, concentrating on permit acquisition and licensing problems. These meetings were accompanied by meetings with our long-time PR representative and Expo coordinator Regina Frasier. 2003 was another great year of joint efforts with Polamer, a shipping company who contributed to our endeavors by allowing us to use their services free of charge. Walter Kotaba and Joanna Bochenek again promised their assistance in shipping materials and supplies for the PACBA Expo 2004 in Chicago.
The Polish Consulate General in Chicago was awarded the Golden Nail Award at the 2004 Ball for their great cooperation in organizing the PACBA Expo 2004. Throughout the year, PACBA concentrated its efforts on international meetings, which took place in Poland that popularized the PACBA Expo 2004 all over Eastern Europe. The PACBA Expo 2004 took place in September at the Copernicus Foundation Theatre and Parking Lot in Chicago. Over 200 Eastern European and American companies exhibited their products and services in the PACBA Expo 2004. A part of the 2004 Expo was the make-over of a child’s bedroom. In cooperation with Lowe’s Home Improvement and Channel 5 News with Anchor/Reporter – Art Norman, PACBA chose the child’s bedroom that was in the worst condition of all the entrants. George – an underprivileged youth from the south side of Chicago won the contest, which was broadcast on Channel 5 News. Representatives of PACBA rebuilt the winner’s bedroom, and one third of the entire house, promoting education and safety. Lis Lighting (exhibitor at PACBA Expo 2004 from Poland) provided free lighting for the entire house. The entire effort was estimated at $60,000. PACBA, occupied with the remodeling of the home, entered 2005.
In January of 2005, Channel 5 News along with T.V. Polvision and Radio 1030 AM recorded George as he walked into his brand new room, totally furnished by Idea Furniture, for the first time. At the 2005 Ball, PACBA presented all the organizers of the PACBA Expo 2004 along with the family of the winner of the “Ugly Room Contest.” In May, we again were honored with first place at the Third of May Parade. In August, we celebrated Father’s Day with another picnic. Safety and training meetings dominated our involvement in the community.
January 2006 was occupied with preparations for the Ten Year Anniversary Ball of PACBA, which took place on February 18, 2006. PACBA has earned reputation for delivering entertaining and delightful carnival balls. In December PACBA members embarked on the “Polish Jamestown” project aimed at promoting the many contributions of first Poles that arrived to the U.S. in 1608 to build Jamestown, Virginia, a first permanent settlement. Polish American Jamestown Committee was formed under the auspices of PACBA.
In 2007 we continued our tradition with the 11th PACBA Carnival Ball in February. Jamestown project, however, dominated our involvement. Members of PACBA built a float (87×16 feet in size) with replicas of a glasshouse, wood mill, and blacksmith shop. The float with live reenactments of the work done by Poles in Jamestown, Virginia surpassed the wildest expectations of spectators at the Polish Constitution Day Parade in May. Many spectators rushed to pose in front of the float to make memorable pictures and capture this unique historical exhibit.
The float and informational brochures about Poles in Jamestown – members of PACBA produced and distributed – instigated great interest in this forgotten accomplishment of Poles in the colonial history of this country. The float gain fame beyond the state of Illinois. It was also displayed in Milwaukee, WI during the annual Polish Festival in June.
PACBA co-organized the Fifth Polish American Trade Show at Stevenson Convention Center in Rosemont, IL in May. Construction firms from Poland and the US had the opportunity to display their products and network. During the show, PACBA distributed thousand compact fluorescent lights from the City of Chicago energy conservation program.
Member of PACBA made huge contribution to building the new rehabilitation complex for children – the Center of Gift from the Heart (Centrum Daru Serca). They donated labor and materials worth well over one hundred thousand dollars.
We welcomed 2008 with our 12th Carnival Ball. Members of PACBA continued to promote the Jamestown project throughout the year. We arranged to make a documentary about Poles in Jamestown, a movie well suited to be shown for educational purposes to any ethnic group.