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Santo Amaro, SP, 04713-001

+55 11 5182-2074

Eric Poliak Award

Eric Poliak Award

This award was founded in memory of Eric Poliak, a past governor and president of the American Society (AmSoc), community member, and friend. After Mr. Poliak’s untimely death in May 1984, the Board of Governors established this tribute to be given annually to a person in the São Paulo community who has unselfishly contributed his or her time and effort for the good of the entire community.

 The Eric Poliak Award represents AmSoc’s highest honor. Nominations for this award are submitted annually, during the month of March, by the AmSoc membership. All nominations are sent to the office staff, and distributed to the selection committee at least 1 week prior to meeting. The recipient must be American, but doesn’t need to be a member of AmSoc. A special committee, comprised of AmSoc executive committee members and previous award winners, chooses the final recipient.

The award is presented at the AmSoc annual General Meeting in April.

2017 Award Recipient

The Erick Poliak award is given to an individual whose volunteerism and dedication is far beyond their duty to the community of São Paulo. This year we are honoring Richard Wegman, not only our hands-on President, eight-year Board member, but also as Treasurer, an unsung hero rescuing the American Society from financial insolvency about four years ago.

For many years, the AmSoc was able to count on corporate donations for its administrative costs. But as these  donations diminished, we realized that we needed a major fundraiser to help finance our charitable activities, as well as cover part of our administrative cost. Thus, six years ago the Gala was born.
About four years ago, we understood that we had to cut our administrative costs. At this time, we had an excellent full-time office manager. We understood that we had to let her go and reorganize, so as to bring our budget in line with our income. After fourteen years of employment, the cost (as dictated by labor laws) of letting our employee go was huge.

We had a savings, but this went very quickly. Our Treasurer, Richard Wegman, took the reins and the challenge. He spent weeks with lawyers and accountants, planning how we were going to pay for these labor costs. In January, he set up a committee, led by him, to man the office and study exactly what was needed.

He realized that a full-time manager was not necessary, which would free the Society from huge labor taxes. Richard then actively looked for a part-time manager, and then continued in the office to train and reorganize. By the end of February, we had an office which cost us less than half of our previous cost. By strict monitoring of our activities, little by little, the Society was saved. Now, we have a savings almost at the same level as before this crisis. By the way, this took place during the Christimas holidays and summer vacation, when most of us were enjoying holidays.

Richard has had tireless dedication to the organization. His eight years on the Board included membership boosting, the Independence Day Party for several years, Treasurer, and as President, where he has implemented many new programs, always in his hands-on style.

A recent example of this nonstop dedication was mentioned by Alan Blau during our committee meeting. Alan mentioned that the Saturday before, Richard drove out to Campinas to work with the Campinas Chapter painting the walls of their charity. Then, Richard drove back into town and participated in our Children's Field Day, a volunteer day event graciously hosted by the Consulate for the charities we support. Then, he accompanied Alan to the office to go over AmSoc financials for several hours.

This is the example of the dedicated person who has gone many extra miles for our organization, and the communities we support in São Paulo. Richard Wegman, the 32nd recipient of the 2017 Erik Poliak Award, we honor and thank you for your outstanding service to the community. 

Previous Winners for Outstanding Community Service

2017 Richard Wegman
2016 Judy Zanchi
2015 Kelly Maurice
2014 T. David Warren
2013 Eileen Tasso
2012 Marlene Rubeiz
2010 Sister Angela Mary

2009 Theresa Mary White
2008 Sonya Querido
2007 Bert Frost
2006 Susan Banman Sileci
2005 Alan Blau
2004 Mark Abrams
2003 Deborah Riveros
2002 Jean Smith
2001 Father Thomas Brown
2000 Marilyn Mangels
2000 Delora B. Tuthill

1999 Jane Hayes
1998 Jo Ann Ivy
1997 Eric Street
1996 Jose M. Arana
1995 Cathy Koepke
1994 Lynne S. Couri
1993 Steve Hanson
1992 R. Christopher Lund

1991 Alonzo B. Shattuck
1990 John E. Burns

1989 Carmen Kennedy Lund
1988 Anne F. Pereira
1987 Frances Van de Putte
1986 David E. Ivy
1985 Mary Clifford Poor