After 113 years, local Polish hall welcomes female members
For the first time in its 113-year history, a Grand Rapids Polish Hall will finally allow women to become official members. As many as 30 women are scheduled to be granted membership on Valentine's Day at St. Ladislaus Aid Society. Club president David Robert Kroon says discussion for the change came during Pulaski Days 2016, when more women showed up to volunteer than men did.
“I think we had maybe one member to every four women that were volunteering when more women are volunteering then men," Kroon said. "And they’re all asking ‘well, can we be members?’ and we’re like ‘Um, it’s a men’s only club, so…”
Kroon says over the course of the last eight months, the club voted on allowing female members into the club on three different occasions, and the decision finally passed after the third attempt. While some long standing members were angry and viewed it as the end of an era, Kroon says the time for change had come.
“It’s time for change, I mean, we are probably one of the last halls that is a men only, you know we got to get into the 21st century, and I think that is the way we should go with it,” he said.
Andie Crapsey, the 2016-2017 Grand Rapids Pulaski Queen, will become the Polish hall's first female member. She says she does not take the distinction lightly.
“I am super excited to join the club, my parents have been members my whole life, well, my dad has been, and I have grown up in this club, so it really is an honor that they asked me to be the first member sworn in as a female,” she said.
That and maybe after a 113 years, the club could use a little updating.
“Oh, that place, could definitely use a woman’s touch,” Craspey said.