Slovakia Pennsylvania Consul Sister Cities Program Links


According to the 2000 U.S. census, there were 797,764 people of Slovak heritage living in the United States. Pennsylvania ranks first of the 50 states with 243,009 (30.5%) of these residents. Approximately half of these people live in Western Pennsylvania. Because of the heavy concentration of Slovak-Americans in the area, the Slovak Embassy opened an Honorary Consulate in Pittsburgh in 1997.

In the past, many of the Slovak cultural programs available to Western Pennsylvanians were offered by some of the seven national Slovak fraternal benefit societies (501-C-8), all of whom have several branches throughout Western Pennsylvania. However, attendance at these events was generally limited to members of the particular fraternal insurance company sponsoring the event. Furthermore, most of the cultural events offered consisted of folk dancing performed by local students whereas WPSCA strives to show the variety of culture and entertainment existing in Slovakia today.

On March 17, 1997, Slovak Honorary Consul Joseph Senko, formed a non-profit organization, Western Pennsylvania Slovak Cultural Association (WPSCA). It was formed to bring diverse authentic Slovak cultural programs to Western Pennsylvania for not only Slovak-Americans, but for the entire public to enjoy. Their mission is as follows: first of all, the majority of the Slovak cultural programs to be presented by WPSCA, whether they be performers or exhibits, will come directly from Slovakia so that the attendees could appreciate the rich cultural talent that is available in the Slovak Republic; secondly, the cultural programs to be presented will be highly diversified in order to appeal to a variety of cultural tastes of Western Pennsylvanians; and thirdly, the programs will be marketed and made available to all Slovak-Americans in the area, regardless of which Slovak society they are members, as well as the general public. The facilities for these events will always be accessible to the physically challenged. Finally, by including representatives of other prominent Slovak organizations on our Board of Directors of WPSCA, there is an increase in an input of ideas, volunteers, attendance and the quality of the events.

Another goal of WPSCA is to acquaint the general public with the geography, history and culture of the Slovak Republic. Too often, Slovakia is confused with Slovenia, Yugoslavia and the former Czechoslovakia.


The Board of Directors listed below consists of 14 individuals, all of whom hold leadership positions with other Slovak organizations. They meet on an “as needed” basis. After the Board decides to present a specific program, an additional committee of non-Board members is appointed to handle the details such as publicity, programs, ticket sales, transportation, etc. None of the Board members or committee persons receive any compensation.

WPSCA DIRECTORS FOR 2005

Joseph Bielecki
Matthew Blistan, Sr.
Andy Conte
Hana Hudecova
Cynthia M. Maleski
Karen Mesaros
George Matta, Sr.
Dave Mayernik
Cliff Moeller
Mary Ann Naple
Eric Ondos
Susan M. Ondrejco
Carolyn Potanko
Cecilia Sarocky
Albina Senko
Joseph T. Senko (Exec. Dir.)
Stephen Tomko
Don Walko


There are seven Slovak fraternal benefits societies (501-C-8) registered in the United States. All seven are sponsors of the Western Pennsylvania Slovak Cultural Association. They are:

  1. First Catholic Slovak Union
  2. First Catholic Slovak Ladies Association
  3. Greek Catholic Union
  4. Ladies Pennsylvania Slovak Catholic Union
  5. National Slovak Society
  6. Slovak Catholic Sokol
  7. Slovak Savings Bank
  8. Sokol USA
  9. Western PA Slovak Day Assuciation

Each of the sponsors have an active member on the Board of Directors to help select and coordinate programs. Sponsorship fees are $250 per year.


WPSCA publishes a newsletter of its activities several times a year. Attached is the most recent issue.


We presently have over 180 members. In addition to receiving our newsletter, members are entitled to discounts to most events. Annual dues are $15.


1999 - Four Events

April 16 - Installation of Slovak flag in Allegheny County Court House
April 16 - Testimonial banquet at Churchill Country Club honoring Slovak Ambassador Martin Butora.
Oct. 11-Dec. 3 - 1st beginner Slovak language classes - 15 students.
November 1 - Slovak classical concert featuring Ondrej Janoska, violinist.

2000 - Five Events

January 30 - Entertainment and phonathon to assist Slovak students participating in 12th annual World Debating Championship in Pittsburgh.
Feb. 28 - May 2 - 2nd beginner Slovak language classes - 14 students.
April 8-9 - Bratislava Choir - Three performances in Pittsburgh.
Sept., Oct., Nov. - Slovak Film Festival - featuring one Slovak film each month.
Oct. 2 - Dec. 4 - 3rd beginner Slovak language class - 16 students.

2001 - Six Events

Mar. 5 - Apr. 9 - 4th beginner Slovak language classes - 14 students.
April 22 - 1st annual membership meeting at Resurrection Hall.
June 15 - Funny Fellows concert.
Oct. 8 - Nov. 26 - 5th beginner Slovak language classes - 37 students.
Oct. 31 - Nov. 3 - Genealogical Conference co-sponsored with Czechoslovak Genealogical Society.
November 12 - Reception for Kosice Mayor Trebula.

2002 - Seven Events

Feb. 12 - Apr. 2 - 6th beginner Slovak language classes - 23 students.
March 2-16 - Slovak Easter cooking demonstrations.
Mar. 18 - May 6 - 1st intermediate Slovak language classes - 18 students.
April 21 - 2nd annual membership meeting at Czechoslovak Nationality Room.
July 15-20 - Presov sister city program.
Sept. - 7th beginner Slovak language classes.
November 23 - Slovak Christmas cooking demonstration.

2003 - Ten Events

Feb. 2 - Jewish/Slovak Holocaust and Chatam Sofer photo exhibits
Mar.3 - May.5. - 2nd intermediate Slovak language classes
Mar.25 - Apr.15 - 2nd Slovak Film Festival
April 5 - 2nd Easter cooking demonstration
May 4 - 3rd Annual membership meeting at Czechoslovak Nationality Room
Sept.9 - Dec.4 - 1st Beginner/Intermediate Slovak language classes
Sept.-Oct.-Nov. - Slovak dancing classes
Sept. 27 - Dodo & Jozef Ivaska Concert
Oct. 20-25 - August 1968 Photo Exhibit
Nov. 22 - 2nd Slovak Christmas cooking demonstration

2004 - Eight Events

Feb. 14 - 2nd Consular Testimonial Awards Dinner
Feb.15,22,29 - 3rd Slovak film festival
Feb. 24 - Apr. 20 - 2nd Beginner/Intermediate Slovak language classes
May 2 - 4th annual membership meeting
July 19-24 - Slovak Day/Sister Cities Program
1st Monday of Month - Slovak Conversation Discussion Group
Oct. 5 - Nov. 12 - Roma Pho to Exhibit
Oct. 19 - Nov. 23 - 3rd Beginner/Intermediate Slovak Language Class
Nov. 13 - Children' s Slovak Christmas Highlights

2005 - Ten Events

1st Monday of Month - Slovak Conversation Discussion Group
Mar. 1 - May 10 - 4th Beginner/Intermediate Slovak Language Classes
April 3, 17,24 - Janosik Film Festival
April 14 - Cecinka Folk Group
May 22 - 5th annual membership meeting
----- - Tatra Relief Fund
Sept. 10 - Slovak Visa Waiver Roundtable
Sept. 11 - Dec. 11 - 6th Slovak Film Festival
Sept. 13 - Nov. 8 - 5th Beginner/Intermediate Slovak language classes

2006 - Nine Events

1st Monday of Month - Slovak Convesation Discussion Group
Jan. 17 - May 1 - 6th Beginner/Intermediate Slovak Language classes
Feb. 26 - Fasiangy Cooking Demonstration
Mar. 14 - May 1 - 3rd Intermediate Slovak Language Class
May 7 - 6th annual Membership Meeting
July 23 - 3rd Consular Testimonial Awards Dinner
Sept. 5 - Dec. 5 - 7th Beginner/Intermediate Slovak Language classes
----- - Slovak Language Scholarship Grant ($2,500) - Comenius University
----- - Slovak Culture Box Project
----- - Senior Admission Fee Subsidy (Pgh. Folk Festival and Slovak Day at Kennywood)

2007 - Nine Events

1st Monday of Month - Slovak Conversation Discussion Group
Mar. 27 - May 8 - 4th Intermediate Slovak Language Class
June 3 - Annual Meeting/10th Anniversary Celebration
June 3 - Backwards Concert (Beatles impersonators from Kosice)
August 19 - Slovak Day at Pittsburgh Pirate Baseball Game
September 9 - Pittsburgh Agreement Presentation Ceremony
September 22 - Slovak Film Festival including dinner at Slovak Civic Federation
----- - Slovak Language Scholarship Grant ($2,500) - Comenius University
----- - Senior Admission Fee Subsidy (Pgh. Folk Festival, Slovak Day at Kennywood, Slovak Day at PNC Park)

Ongoing Annual Participation in Events of Others Oraganizations

Pittsburgh Folk Festival - Memorial Day weekend
Slovak Day at Kennywood Park - Third Thursday in July
University of Pittsburgh Slovak Festival - First Sunday in November
National Rooms Program Holiday Open House - First Sunday in December


COMPUTERS SENT TO SLOVAKIA

In February 2004, the Western Pennsylvania Slovak Cultural Association gent 250 reconditioned computers and 980 computer text books to Slovakia for distribution to high schools throughout the country. They were all IBM Pentium II with 200 MHZ or better and included CD ROMs with a minimum of 64 fam. The shipment also includes monitors and keyboards for each ofthe computers. The shipment had an estimated value of$121,000.

This concluded the first phase of a project which was begun by WPSCA in February, 2001. The original goal was to collect 400 computers for high schools in Slovakia with an estimated shipping cost of$8,000. In order to raise these funds, WPSCA went on the Slovak Radio Hour in Pittsburgh asking listeners for donations. The listeners enthusiastically responded by sending checks totaling $8,035 in just one broadcast. The gifts ranged from $20 to $1,000.

In order to find the computers, hundreds ofletters were mailed to universities, hospitals, hanks, law firms, accounting firms and individuals asking for their used computers when they planned to upgrade. No computer donation was refused. However, in order to ship the first 250 computers, approximately 800 computers were collected. The broken and obsolete computers were so Id as junk and the proceeds were used to buy CD ROMs and memory boards that were installed in the good computers. During the three years of collecting computers, the Brothers Brother Foundation volunteered free warehouse space as well as a workroom for repairing the computers.

Three ofthe unanticipated costs ofthe proj ect were postage and mailing (approximately $600), truck rentals for transporting the donated computers to the warehouse (approximately $700) and hiring technicians to sort through the donations and recondition the better ones (approximately $7,000). These were paid out ofthe funds collected for shipping. Rather than go back to the generous donors in Pittsburgh, Joe Senko, executive director ofWPSCA, met with John Goodish, then president of US. Steel Kosice, who agreed to have US. Steel Kosice pay for the initial shipment (approximately $3,000).

In order to facilitate the storage and distribution ofthe computers when they arrive in Slovakia, Joe, made arrangements with Danka Haskova, project manager for the Slovak Committee for UNICEF in Bratislava. She coordinated all of administrative work with the Education Minister, Customs Department (to avoid V AT and duties), and the high schools. The computers were stored during distribution at Materska Skola, a school for handicapped children in Bratislava. The extra space in the 40 foot shipping container carrying the computers to Slovakia was filled with computer text books and wheel chairs for the school where the computers were stored in Bratislava.

Within a month after arriving in March, all of the computers were distributed to 44 schools in 12 different cities, with a minimum of five computers going to each school.

Mr. Senko intends to continue collecting computers for high schools in Slovakia. Since the first shipment was primarily distributed to schools in Western Slovakia, Mr. Senko has made arrangements with Mayor Milan Benc ofPresov to oversee the distribution ofthe second shipment to schools in Eastern Slovakia. Presov is a Sister City with Pittsburgh, PA. Now that WPSCA has experienced the procedures, they anticipate that the second phase (250 computers) will only take 12 months. WPSCA welcomes any donations to help cover the costs of phase two. Make your tax deductible checks payable to WPSCA, Manor Gak Two, Suite 500, 1910 Cochran Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15220. Joe is also the Slovak Honorary Con suI for Pennsylvania and the Treasurer ofboth the Brothers Brother Foundation and Friends of Slovakia.

WPSCA AIDS TATRAS

When the Tatras were devastated by a wind storm in November, 2004, Western Pennsylvania Slovak Cultural Association made an appeal for contributions from Slovaks through the Slovak fratemal newspapers. In just a few months, WPSCA received $4,000 from 67 donors along with many sympathetic letters. In August, 2005, Joe Senko, executive director of WPSCA, and his wife, Albina, personally delivered the funds and letters to representatives of Tatra National Park (TANAP).

 

 


CHILDREN'S MAGAZINES DISTRIBUTED TO SLOVAK STUDENTS

As a result of a $5,000 grant awarded to Brother's Brother Foundation at the 2003 First Catholic Slovak Ladies Association convention, 60,000 copies of the American children' s magazine, "Highlights for Children" were distributed to student s through out Slovakia with 27,000 Highlights calendars. Highlights is a popuiar magazine that has been a favorite of parents over the years due to its informative contents.

The magazines were donated by the Brother' s Brother Foundation headquartered in Pittsburgh. The FCSLA grant helped cover shipping and distribution costs to Slovakia. Joe Senko, Treasurer of Brother' s Brother Foundation and Pennsylvania Slovak Honorary Consui, visited the US. Embassy in Bratislava to help coordinate the distribution to students through out the country.

The initial distribution was made at a conference of English teachers in Banska Bystrica in August, 2004. The magazine and calendars were packed in 830 parcels and distributed to 830 schools, reaching about 45,000 students and teachers. An additional15,000 magazines were shipped to the methodological centers in Bratislava, Banska Bystrica and Presov for their own distribution.