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CLARK, N.J. – An immigrant from Poland in 1983, Danuta Sieminski, CEO of the Polish & Slavic FCU, knows first-hand the challenges immigrants face when they arrive in the United States. To help ease the transition of living in a new country for other immigrants, Sieminski is overseeing the donation of $25,000 from the Polish & Slavic FCU to the Polish Cultural Foundation in Clark, N.J. The money has been earmarked for hiring a full-time staff person at the Cultural Foundation who is assisting Polish immigrants with a variety of issues ranging from how to become a U.S. citizen to where they can find classes to learn English. In addition to having an office at the Cultural Foundation and a toll-free telephone number at which she can be reached, the newly hired liaison also travels to the various Polish & Slavic FCU branches throughout New Jersey to meet on-site with community members. “We want people to know that there is an organization to assist them,” Sieminski says. “For example, there are a lot of people who are here legally but don’t have health insurance. They need to know what resources are available to them.” “There’s a definite need for something like this by the community,” adds Joseph Biesiadecki, president of the Polish Cultural Foundation. “So far, [our representative is] being very well received.” The CU’s donation covers a portion of the operating expenses for the program; additional costs are being met by the Cultural Foundation. “It’s a good project, especially because I spent so much time developing the branches in New Jersey,” Sieminski says. “We’re always excited about doing something positive for our Polish ethnic group in the United States.” A former teacher, Sieminski began working for the Polish & Slavic FCU in 1985 as a member services representative. In 1987 she oversaw the opening and operation of the CU’s first New Jersey branch – it now has four facilities in New Jersey and four in New York with a fifth on its way. She earned a Diploma in Banking from the American Institute of Banking in New York and an MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. In between being a member services representative and CEO of the credit union, Sieminski was operations manager and senior vice president. In addition to its Polish Cultural Foundation donation, the Polish & Slavic FCU donated $20,000 to the fund to create a Department of Polish Studies at Columbia University in New York. An estimated $3 million will be needed to establish an independent Polish Studies department. Initial efforts include the creation of courses to study Polish language, Polish literature and Polish history. -

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