Children's Medical Care Foundation

Founded in 1986 by Stefan P. Wilk, M.D. as a California public benefit corporation

by Stefan Wilk

The Children's Medical Care Foundation (CMCF), is an American humanitarian tax - exempt foundation operating under Sec. 501(c)(3) of the IRS code. It was chartered and founded in 1986 by Stefan P. Wilk, M.D. as a California public benefit corporation.

Its historical evolution is as follows: In 1980/81 representatives of the Polish Association of Pediatric Surgeons, Professors K. Lodzinski and Z. Kalicinski, visited Los Angeles to formalize an exchange program between the UCLA School of Medicine, and the Medical Academy and Centrum Zdrowia Dziecka (Center of Child Health) in Warsaw. The previous two years of searching for grants and a campaign among local Polonians did not produce any funds to start the program. Consequently, Dr. Stefan P. Wilk was approached for help. He liked the idea and accepted the challenge to raise the necessary funds to make the project fly. The project was carried out first briefly, under the patronage of the local Polish church as the Polish Children's Fund and then under the tax-exempt patronage of the UCLA Foundation as the Children's Medical Care Program (a UCLA support group).

Within months sufficient funds (mostly from non-Polish business people) were raised. The first stipendists [scholarship recipients] arrived at UCLA in April, 1982. The remarkable success of the program (CMCP) led to subsequent expansion beyond UCLA. It became necessary to organize the Children's Medical Care Foundation (CMCF).

From the beginning Dr. Wilk set a series of conditions, which became the motto of the program "American medical knowledge for Polish children; no material goods." In order to provide American medical knowledge and expertise, CMCF arranges and financially supports three-month visits of carefully selected Polish pediatric physician / scholars for exposure and intensive study at leading medical centers in the U.S. and Europe. Strict guidelines for the selection of candidates are adhered to. Younger candidates with academic inclinations and a potential for leadership are selected. These candidates, who all return to Poland as per agreement, then apply, practice and share what they have learned with other colleagues, thus ensuring lasting results. To date our stipendists have received training at medical centers at USC, Harvard, Columbia in the U.S. and medical schools in Paris, Frankfurt and Zurich.

Because of strict adherence to the original principles, this unique form of help has proven to be a most effective form of help for Polish children, producing gratifying results. The CMCF was able to accomplish this because of strong support from the medical faculty at UCLA and other medical centers; guidance from an advisory committee in Poland; a stipend committee in Los Angeles composed of three physicians (two of whom are prominent professors in pediatrics at UCLA and USC, who are also on the Board of Directory of CMCF); and foremost, thanks to the generous support of Polish - Americans and quite a few non-Polish Americans.

As of 1994, sixty-seven Polish pediatricians have been given the opportunity for this advanced supplemental training. To provide additional support to returning candidates and others in Poland, CMCF has financed critically needed subscriptions to medical journals in the field of pediatrics since 1989.

The stipendists have lived up to expectations. They have introduced many firsts in Polish pediatric history:

* percutaneous peritoneal renal dialysis (in lieu of scarcely available rental dialysis machines).

* first renal transplants in Polish children.

* first liver transplant in the history of Polish medicine.

The trainees played an important role in improving medical care for new born babies. Several new and/or improved surgical techniques are now benefitting many a Polish child. It is also particularly gratifying that almost half of the stipendists have gradually assumed leading positions in Polish pediatric medicine. Out of sixty-seven stipendists, only one subsequently left Poland seeking a better opportunity elsewhere.

In gratitude, the Polish Association of Pediatric Surgeons elected Several American faculty members as honorary members of their society and the Academy of Medicine in Warsaw bestowed the Doctor Honoris Causa degree to the principal founder of CMCF and to the initial UCLA faculty member involved in the project.

CMCF is a low profile public relations American humanitarian organization. It derives its revenue from:

* small or larger individual donations in response to an annual report sent out once a year before Thanksgiving.

* an annual ball held in a private club in the spring with a different theme each year: April in Paris, Mardi Gras, Carnival in Rio, Echoes of Poland, Spanish Serenade, Renaissance, etc. with special menus, exquisite decorations and entertainment to match.

* interest dividends from testamentary bequests.

The current annual operating budget is $30,000. One third comes from interest from the testamentary bequests and two thirds from individual donations and the fund-raising ball.

All management is handled by the Board of Directors who meet on a quarterly basis without compensation. Individual board members take care of specific activities on a voluntary basis. All finances are monitored by a professional independent accountant. Current CMCF officers: Stefan P. Wilk, president; Bjoern Martinoff, vice-president and treasurer; Barbara Martinoff, secretary. Board members: Zofia Adamowicz, Philip R. Brewster, Kazimierz Cybulski, Joan E. Hodgman, M.D., Jerry Maryniuk, M.D., Michael P. Sherman, M.D.

The expenses of the tax-exempt qualifying portion of the donation are around six percent, mainly for stationery and mailing. All other activities are fully provided free by volunteers, including telephone and secretarial help. Of every dollar raised, ninety four cents is spent on the stipendists and medical journals. Every dollar raised has brought golden dividends in lasting benefits for countless Polish children until now and will continue into tomorrow. This unique principle of educating doctors, as a vehicle of help, has proved to be the most effective (cost-wise) and lasting help. It has not only amply fulfilled the wishes of the donors and trustees, but is continuing to benefit thousands of children's lives in Poland medically.

The CMCF philosophy has appealed to many members of the Los Angeles Ukrainian community. In fact, they have joined CMCF and funds are being raised jointly to implement the same effort for the children of Lwow (Lviv). Due to language problems, doctors from Lwow are being trained in Poland, mostly by former CMCF stipendists.

Thanks to testamentary bequests and frugal policies, a solid reserve fund has already been established. It will allow younger leaders, who are already phased in, to build upon and carry the mission of CMCF far into the future and to assure that CMCF, a child of the brain and hearts of mostly Polish - Americans in Southern California, will be a lasting legacy. lnquiries may be sent to: CMCF, 3428 Wrightview Dr., Studio City, CA 91604.

From: Polish Americans in California, vol. II. National Center for Urban Ethnic Affairs & Polish American Historical Association. California 1995.