Ethnic club a big giver in town

Polish American Citizens Club gave $31,000 in 2012

Recorder/Paul Franz
Tom Peabody is the President of the South Deerfield Polish American Citizens Club.

Recorder/Paul Franz Tom Peabody is the President of the South Deerfield Polish American Citizens Club.

SOUTH DEERFIELD — Whether it is donating money to youth sport leagues, hosting functions or awarding student scholarships, the Polish American Citizens Club has wrapped up one more year where it’s contributed much to the community — about $31,000, to be exact.

Every year, the club donates much of its profits to the community. In 2012, it donated $18,000 to several organizations, between $7,000 to $8,000 to youth activities and another $6,000 to student scholarships, according to club President Thomas Peabody.

On Monday, the club’s board held its annual meeting, in which it elects its president and directors and discusses the past year and coming year’s activities.

The club is an independent nonprofit that has been a staple of the community since it opened in the late 1930s on South Main Street as a place for Polish farmers to meet. It has been attracting the community for functions, charities and beer ever since. It represents people of Slavic descent from the four southern Franklin County towns: Deerfield, Whately, Sunderland and Conway. Although its main members have ancestry connected to the Eastern and Southeast Europe and Central and North Asia region, the Polish club does welcome other members — known as associate members — without a Slavic background. The only difference is associate members are not allowed to vote for the club’s president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, two trustees and 13 directors, who volunteer to run the club.

“As years go on, it becomes harder to track people who have Slavic descent,” Peabody said.

Peabody, a retired Greenfield postal worker and South Deerfield native, has been affiliated with the Polish club for 40 years, since he was 21 years old. His father, Bud Peabody, was a long-time treasurer of the club.

The club’s donation money comes from bar sales and membership fees.

“We’re proud to support a lot of things. If I have to spend money, I’d like to spend it here where it’ll go to good causes,” Peabody said.

The club donates annually to students through its scholarship account. In 2012, it donated a total of $6,000 in scholarships to five Frontier Regional School students. In some years, it has awarded as much as $12,000 in scholarships. The money goes toward children of members of five or more years.

The biggest recipients of the club’s charity are youth baseball leagues. In 2012, the club donated $1,000 to the Sandy Koufax 13-year-old baseball league and another $1,000 to the Frontier Regionial Middle School baseball team.

It also gave $500 each to the Frontier Boys Summer Basketball, Frontier Girls Softball team, and Frontier Field Hockey team.

“Whenever the teams need trophies or jackets or equipment, we help out,” Peabody said.

Other recipients include local charities and clubs. In 2012, the club donated $250 to the Wounded Warrier Project, $500 to The Recorder’s Warm the Children, $500 to the Baystate-Franklin Wheeling for Healing and $1,000 to the Hospice of Franklin County.

“We like to support organizations where the money goes to the needy,” Peabody said. “We like to keep it local.”

The club also gives back to its bar patrons. For instance, every Saturday from Thanksgiving to Easter, it provides a free lunch for members. The club donates its hall to local clubs and organizations to use, including the South Deerfield Women’s Club. Other community members use the hall for games. A group of local men practice fly-tying once a week, while a some women play pingpong. And Thursday nights are pitch league night.

“It’s, like, the meeting place,” Peabody said. “It’s family orientated. When the baseball team or volleyball team does well, they have something here.”

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at:
kmckiernan@recorder.com or
413-772-0261 ext. 268.

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