DEAR SUN SPOTS: Our Catholic Charities Seek Elderly Alone, Renew Courage and Hope program relies almost entirely on the help of volunteers to provide our friendly visiting, telephone reassurance and transportation support to lonely and isolated seniors throughout Androscoggin County.

SEARCH has had great success in the past recruiting volunteers though Sun Spots, so we are turning to your column once again for help.

Every year at this time we see an increased demand for our services. Right now on our waiting list there are 10 elderly people in the Auburn, Lewiston, Lisbon Falls and Poland areas who are quite lonely and would love to receive friendly visits from a caring volunteer. Many of them live alone and have no transportation, so they need help with getting to their appointments or picking up their groceries.

We have one particular senior who is 74 years old and lives in Poland. She would like a volunteer to talk to and help her by taking her out for her errands and grocery shopping. Since many of them are lonely in the winter months, a friendly visit each week helps to lift their spirits and helps them feel less isolated.

We provide training and ongoing support for our volunteers. If you have three to four hours a week to give to a senior from your community, or would like more information about becoming a volunteer with us, please call our office at 784-0157.

Thank you for your help in continuing to support and promote our important program in the community. — Wendy Russell, program director, Catholic Charities SEARCH Program, [email protected]

DEAR SUN SPOTS: For your readers interested in the Polish community in Lewiston-Auburn, I have the following to offer. It’s taken from “Cultural Mosaic: Lewiston-Auburn,” a booklet published by the Maine Arts Commission and L/A Arts in 1994. The research was conducted by Tina Bucuvalas. To save space, I’ve paraphrased from the original text.

Poles began arriving in the area in the 1890s, mostly from the south of Poland, especially the city of Rzeszów. They settled in the area around Bates, Maple, Park, Knox and Lincoln streets. Most attended St Patrick’s Church. The St. Stanislaus Mutual Aid Society (which used the Polish Hall your reader mentioned) was founded in 1904. I’m afraid I don’t know when it was disbanded.

One of its initial functions was to provide health care to its members, but it was also a social group.

Other groups included the White Eagles and the Krakowianki (both youth groups) and the Young Man’s Polish Association, founded in the 1930s. The youth groups provided “wholesome” activities for children, including sports, singing and theater. There was a Polish school run by Mr. Samocki, which provided Polish-language lessons one or twice a week; it closed in the 1920s.

I hope your readers might have more memories to add to this snippet of information. — James Myall, coordinator, Franco-American Collection, University of Southern Maine, [email protected]

ANSWER: Sun Spots got one other letter on this topic, offering slightly different dates but similar information.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: I am writing in response to the inquiry about the Polish Hall (Jan. 7).

The Polish Men’s Club or Mutual Aid Society of St. Stanislaus, the Polish Women’s Club and the Young Men’s and Women’s Clubs were formed in 1915.

Both of my parents were members, and I spent many Friday and Saturday evenings there while growing up during the 1950s and ’60s.

The original Polish Hall was on the fourth floor of the McGillicudy building on the corner of Ash and Lincoln streets.

The club officially disbanded in 2004. There are two surviving Men’s Club members in the Lewiston area and several out of state. Records going back to the club’s founding exist.

I may be reached at 689-3583 or at [email protected] — Richard Volock

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