Polish American Health Association, Inc.
Organization, Purposes, and Activities
The formal beginnings of PAHA (Polish American Health Association) date back to October 27, 1990. On that day a group of approximately thirty physicians and scientists from the greater metropolitan Washington area assembled at the Polish Embassy to listen to two presentations by Polish scientists visiting the National Institutes of Health, and to a report, by three physicians who just arrived from Poland to the United States, on recent medical developments in Poland. The meeting was organized by Dr. Lucas Kulczycki whose vision, persistence, and energy in collecting addresses of Polish physicians from the Washington area, inviting speakers, mailing announcements, making numerous telephone calls, etc., made the meeting happen.
The idea of getting together caught on. A second meeting was called less than two months later. Approximately forty individuals were present at the meeting. They decided to form an organization, adopted Interim Bylaws, selected the name for the new organization, and elected a Board of Directors. As for the name of the organization, the Polish American Health (rather than Medical) Association was selected to indicate that not only physicians but also other health care professionals and biomedical scientists were among those who founded the new organization. Dr. Lucas Kulczycki, Professor of Pediatrics, Georgetown University, was elected to be the first President of PAHA.
The Interim Bylaws of PAHA defined the following organizational mission: “to bring together health care and health sciences workers as well as those working in related areas or interested in the general scope of activities of the Association, with the purpose of discussion of mutual professional, cultural and social topics of common interest, and to promote and preserve the Polish medical tradition and heritage.” Although founded by a group of physicians and scientists, PAHA would accept as members every individual who supported the goals of the organization, submitted application of membership and paid membership dues. Subsequently, the Interim Bylaws were replaced by the permanent Bylaws. The goals and purposes of PAHA were also defined in our incorporation document. According to those two documents, PAHA is organized and operates exclusively for educational/scientific and charitable purposes. PAHA operates through
- conducting and promoting meetings, workshops and symposia on biomedical, scientific, medical, and health promotion issues;
- providing and promoting support and expertise to medical schools, universities, and biomedical research institutions in Poland;
- soliciting donations from the public to support non-profit service and relief agencies for the sick, elderly, handicapped and underprivileged.
In 1992, approximately two years following its establishment, PAHA applied for and became incorporated by the Government of the District of Columbia (Washington, DC) as having complied with all applicable provisions of the District of Columbia Nonprofit Corporation Act. At the same time, the Internal Revenue Service determined that PAHA is exempt from the Federal income tax under section 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code as an organization described in section 501(c)(3) of the Code. This fact has important implications as it entitles individuals and organizations to deduct their donations and contributions to PAHA from their income tax. For example, membership dues of our members are tax deductible. Charitable donations, solicited by PAHA, are also tax deductible under U.S. federal law.
PAHA’s Bylaws define five categories of membership. They are: (a) Ordinary Members; (b) Corresponding Members; (c) Associate Members; (c) Lifetime Members; and (e) Honorary Members. Ordinary and Lifetime Members must have medical/biomedical scientific or professional credentials. They may vote and hold office in the Association. Corresponding Members must have the same qualifications as the Ordinary Members; they have voting rights but they cannot hold office in PAHA. Individuals who are interested in the objectives of PAHA, but who do not have the educational background for ordinary membership, may be admitted as Associate Members. They cannot vote or hold office in PAHA.
One of the goals of PAHA is to bring together professional health care providers and biomedical scientists with the purpose of sharing mutual professional, cultural, and social interests. The Board has decided that the agendas of our meetings must be related to medicine and health issues; that they may include practical aspects, basic sciences, and health care organization and delivery; and that the selection of subjects for presentation at the meetings, and the level of presentation must correspond with the needs, interests, and the educational level of our current and prospective membership. Many of the lectures were by world-renowned medical scientists and several of whom were visitors from Poland.
The Board of Directors accepted certain rules regarding our support to and involvement in charitable activities. (1) PAHA should sponsor recognized charitable organizations instead of supporting needy individuals. (2) PAHA should select credible nonprofit organizations or agencies with well defined and realistic charitable goals and with a proven track record, sound fiscal principles, and a principle of distribution of donated assets with which we concur. (3) PAHA must be able to tell the donors and contributors how their donations will be spent. (4) Fundraising plans must be based on charitable goals, not vice versa. (5) We should not spread our largesse too thinly because it dilutes our limited resources. (6) We should attempt to provide seed money, thereby leveraging funds at our disposal.
PAHA has sponsored, or co-sponsored, among others, the following charitable initiatives:
- disbursement of $11,000.00 to six charitable organizations in Poland to help the mentally retarded, blind, and disabled, and to assist homeless people and those released from prison;
- collection of $1,307.00 through mail fundraising, to fund a three-week medical and social rehabilitation program run by the Polish Society of Hemophilia Patients, for children with hemophilia;
- collection of 1,488 lbs. of used clothing for distribution by three nonprofit organizations in Poland to benefit the needy.
PAHA also collected and shipped some 1,649 lbs. of medical journals for use by Polish pediatricians to the University Childrens Hospital in Lublin.
These activities have continued, such as a contribution to the Polish National Physicians Chamber Fund to support physicians in Western Poland who had been victims of disastrous floods ($5,000.00), collaboration with the Breast Cancer Awareness Program for Poland, and shipment of computers to various centers with disadvantaged children.
In 2002, PAHA donated $3,000.00 to the Society of Childrens Friends in Olsztyn, to help with providing food to indigent children.
In 2003, PAHA supported Doctors of Hope ($7,500.00), Equestrian Therapy project ($3,000.00) and Childrens Home in Poznan, Poland ($1,500.00), and continued providing computers to centers of disadvntaged children in Poland. Funds to support these projects came to great extent from a PAHA Benefit Dinner Dance on May 3, 2003.
Relations with Other Organizations
The Polish American Health Association is interested in establishing relations with sister organizations in the United States and abroad. The Board believes that PAHA should support any such projects and organizational bonds, including international initiatives, provided that they have clearly defined objectives that are in line with PAHA’s general goals and purposes as defined in our Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation. The Board insists that the financial aspects of such initiatives be very clearly formulated up front, and meet standards of ethics as well as the U.S. Internal Revenue Service’s standards for nonprofit organizations.
Currently, PAHA holds memberships in the following organizations:
- Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America, Inc. (affiliate member)
- Polish American Congress, Inc., Washington Metropolitan Division (organization member)
- Federation of Polish Medical Organizations Abroad
Members of the Federation include 16 organizations based in Belarus, Georgia, Germany, England, France, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Sweden, Ukraine and United States. The Federation was established in March of 1994 for the purpose of mutual exchange of experiences, and to coordinate and represent the member organizations in relations with organizations, institutions, and with the medical communities, on the subjects of common interest. The Federation was admitted to the Institutional Matrix for International Collaboration on Medical Education and Practice of the World Health Organization (WHO). Subsequently, the Federation also became a member of the Council for International Organization of Medical Sciences (CIOMS). The Council coordinates collaborations between international medical societies, the WHO and UNESCO. PAHA as a member of the Federation, is also closely associated with the Polish National Physicians Chamber, especially in the organization of international medical conferences.
The Polish American Health Association (PAHA) was established in October of 1990 by a group of approximately 40 physicians, biomedical scientists and other individuals from the Washington metropolitan area with the purpose of providing a forum for health care and biomedical professionals of Polish descent.
PAHA has an elected Board of Directors and an executive committee headed by the president. PAHA membership consists of physicians and other health care and biomedical professionals and scientists. Other individuals who support the goals of the Association can be admitted as Associate Members with no voting rights.
The formal goals and purposes of PAHA are educational and charitable. PAHA’s activities include:
- Public discussion groups on selected medical, health and scientific subjects;
- Fundraising for the benefit of various humanitarian, nonprofit organizations in Poland.
The Association is incorporated in accordance with the provisions of the District of Columbia Nonprofit Corporation Act, and has tax exempt status under the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code.
PAHA supports international initiatives providing they are in line with PAHA’s goals and objectives, and with the IRS’ standards for nonprofit organizations.