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The Brave Polish Gray Samaritans

Celebrating Women's History Month

The Polish Gray Samaritans. Photo Courtesy Immigration History Research Center

Poland was devastated during WWI(1914-1918.) Poles living in America initiated the Polish White Cross and Polish Gray Samaritans of YWCA, which recruited nurses to support Polish soldiers and families. These actions were critical to Poland's postwar rebuilding efforts. Sadly, their stories have been forgotten.

The Polish White Cross story has overshadowed the Polish Gray Samaritans. The Polish White Cross is better known for its founders, Ignacy and Helena Paderewski. Ignacy Paderwski was a famous pianist, philanthropist, politician, and composer. In 1919 he became a prime minister and foreign minister after Poland regained independence in 1918. Helena is known for fundraising for the cause, especially the Paderewski Dolls. Both organizations, the Polish Gray Samaritans and Polish White Cross trained nurses and supported educational activities.