Tomasz Arciszewski's Appeal
Finding meaningful ways to contribute to the health and vitality of children and adolescents is one path of keeping our hearts thriving during these challenges times. I reach out with a personal invitation to get involved with The Helenow Center in Poland and its mission of offering therapeutic, educational and social programs for children and adolescents with developmental disorders including: physical disabilities, cerebral palsy, autism, Asperger's syndrome, speech disorders and a range of other challenges.
Within the context of modern Poland, this center is unique in that it's one of the few places where autistic and developmentally challenged children are appreciated as loving members of society. The Helenow Center currently serves about 200 pupils. Traditionally, such students have not been offered services that enable them to thrive and instead were hidden by their families due to cultural pressures. The acceptance of autistic or developmentally challenged children in Poland is much lower than in the United States. Hopefully, this is slowly changing. We can support that process by offering support to the current youth so that their integration into society can lead to more future options for this special population of humans.
The history of The Helenow Center goes back to post World War I when it began as an orphanage, welcoming children of various ethnic and religious backgrounds. It also served children during the summers, offering them a summer camp experience as a way of healing from the realities of war. It changed its focus to all needy children after World War II with growing attention to developmentally challenged children and teen-agers since 1983.
I'm personally choosing to get more involved because it feels like it's time. In case you don't know me, I am a Professor Emeritus at George Mason University and am living an active retirement in the Shenandoah Valley. I continue lecturing about creativity and education internationally and wish to continue supporting Polish children in a variety of ways. It has been a personal healing journey for me to reconnect to The Helenow Center due to my family's complex history with this Center.
My grandfather, after whom I am named, established The Helenow Center through the Society of Friends of Children (Towarzystwo Przyjaciol Dzieci in Polish) in 1922. The Society was established by him in 1919 to address the needs of the high numbers of orphan and needy children after the war. It still exists more than a hundred years later with hundreds of branches throughout Poland, with Helenow being a shining example of many generations of dedication to youth.
My grandfather served as the Managing Director of the Helenow Center for 17 years, until the beginning of the Second World War. He was active politically on many levels, yet his heart was with the orphans and children of Helenow. Personally, this was very distressing to his wife and two sons (one of whom was my father) because Tomasz ignored the needs of his own family and instead focused on his political causes and spent most of his income on The Helenow Center. My grandmother instead supported the family and raised her two sons mostly on her own. In 1944, my grandfather became the Prime Minister of Poland's government in exile, located in London. His family duties were long ago abandoned for his mission of serving the greater vision of a free Poland.
For that reason, I did not connect with Helenow until recently, once my own father had long passed. To honor his memory, I did not visit the Center until my 60's when I felt a deeper calling to get involved as a way of honoring my grandfather and getting involved with his vision of helping youth. Those were complex times and I share my own personal connection and about my grandfather as a way of showing my deeper healing journey, alongside the many children. My grandfather made the difficult choice of focusing on a larger vision or greater numbers of children than on his own family. When there are so many children without families, especially after a war, the attention and care of adults willing to support them is crucial to their survival. More than 5,000 children found loving support at the Helenow Center, even more if summer campers and programs are counted.
Stories are a way of gaining some insight into The Helenow Center's roots. At least two special people became connected by the Helenow Center: my grandfather, Tomasz Arciszewski, and the double Nobel Prize winner Maria Curie-Sklodowska. The Helenow Center is located on a beautiful piece of land close to Warsaw, which earlier belonged to the family of Maria Curie-Sklodowska. She used to visit the place, usually bringing various gifts for children. Once she forgot about the gifts, but children did not forget and bitterly complained about it to my grandfather. As a straight shooter, he immediately conveyed the children's message to her and suggested that she buy them a cow.
A month later, a cow arrived and the grateful children called her "Maria" as a joke (they had been hoping for candy). My grandfather was extremely embarrassed that they nick-named their cow after a double Noble Prize winner, but she only laughed. Fortunately, sometimes even professors have a sense of humor.
During the last hundred years the Helenow Center played an important role in helping Polish children in need. It was often life-saving help, in many cases a good substitute of their families, and those children became happy and successful members of society, as confirmed by many testimonies. Today, The Helenow Center provides integrated care for about 200 developmentally challenged children and teen-agers. It includes the most advanced rehabilitation and therapy available in Poland, and also educational programs and even day care.
A lot of focus is on autistic children and their therapy. For example, they can take horse rides combined with special physical exercises and they have access to EEG-Biofeedback systems providing numerous benefits for their psychophysiological development.
Therapists at the Helenow Center have convinced me that it is their top priority, since such systems can be used in various ways and are very effective in working with autistic children. Unfortunately, systems in the Center are several years old, have become obsolete and need to be replaced with much more advanced and effective systems available today.
I personally believe that providing the state of the art EEG-Biofeedback systems for autistic children in the Helenow Center is a challenge which must be met. Two such systems are necessary now and their total cost is about $10K. (One such system is absolutely necessary now, but a second one would also be completely utilized.) I have personally decided to donate $1,000.00 and challenge my successful friends to meet my challenge and also to donate money for the Helenow Center fund.
I'm curious if we could together raise the funds to purchase one - or perhaps even both - of these systems?
It can be done using your credit card and the icon on the left side of the screen. Please, be aware that several American credit cards automatically block foreign transactions and you may need to contact your credit card provider to personally authorize this particular transaction.
Many thanks for reading this message and, much more importantly, for making a donation. If you have any questions, please contact me at email@example.com or give me a call at 703-341-9247.
Collection goal: $ 10,000
We have now received $ 1000.
$ 9,000 left to collect.
CENTRUM REHABILITACJI, EDUKACJI
I OPIEKI TPD "HELENÓW"
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1. The first donation - 1,000 $ was made by the originator of this appeal, Tomasz Arciszewski. Thank you very much.
"It is not the most important amount, the gesture counts." Tomasz Arciszewski