The origin of The Lights of Honor International goes back to its predecessor’s official registration in December, 2003 in Torun, Poland. Back then a group of college students, ex-patriots, teachers and happy-go-lucky dreamers thought it would be fun and wild, via Torun’s May 27th, 1976 sister city link with Philadelphia, to start a baseball and football charity club out of the middle and high school affiliate of their city’s Nicholas Copernicus University.
So there up in the 4th floor, attic-turned-apartment kitchen overlooking Torun’s historic Stary Rynek (Old Town) that’s what they did. Though no “Fasha The Dog” of Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant Massacre song lyrics fame was part of its story telling creation, they did manage to survive a smoky apartment from its newly built fireplace that never did work as promised, as well as to start ten teams of baseball, initiate football, and have some pretty outlandish Franklin-Pulaski sister city parades along Bulwar Filadelfijski for steaming live to Philadelphia’s schools.
Soon after, in growing into a full-fledged, independent charity organization that featured many USA and Poland endeavors, its USA version as The Lights of Honor International (LHI) was officially born on December 19, 2013 in South Chicago, overlooking the long gone mills of US Steel–South Works & its RR yards past. Its LHI building’s Headquarters/Flagship is the 8259 S. Commercial Avenue “Tower N.” building where Vincent & Helen Piotrowski had once owned and operated it as “Tower Lounge”, and which Vincent in 1909, as an eight-year-old boy, watched it first get built for use as a butcher shop. He along with his classmate Frank, the butcher shop owner’s son, played in it while it was being constructed. As a 1st generation American Vincent with siblings also saw firsthand the town of Torun his own father would visit often as a youngster, working as a farmer adjacent the city. Now steel was life.
Vincent and Helen would have kids, who produced kids, and these would be shaped and raised in this home above that tavern, sometimes falling asleep to “Knock Three Times on the Ceiling” from the jukebox below. Eventually all would move away, the home and business would be sold, then abandoned, and then stripped, and so sd scary as it looked the courts ordered for its demolition. LHI drove by, saw, & after six court appearances at a purchase price of a nickel, got it back (headaches and all), placing it in LHI’s name as a beacon of hope for what this generation can create, and/or recreate. Call it something like The Little House book of hopeful, happy endings & beginnings.
Grandparents Rudy and Helen Werling of Dayton, Ohio, upon visiting “the Tower” and their grandchildren equally had their profound impact on LHI’s origins, in highlighting the importance of extended family reunions, and for learning of one’s roots and branches in one’s Family Tree. All are backdrop to the bond LHI has since tapped into for its ‘return home’ mission, for us giving back what we can to this world, and to challenge anew the people and places “still here” who have set the stage for dealing with today’s unmended ways.
LHI continues to evolve as it strives to go from repurposing a “Tower N.” building–and others that have likewise been forgotten–to even greater purposes of serving “lost-tribe remnant people” caught in the street yet seeking to rebuild their families and communities… again. LHI in CHI is a start.
Our history is the materials of our future, so by making available such programs involving meal sharing with table readings, an international “Formation House” set of guidelines for those needing its structured support, projects in LHI’s incubator workshops and lectures series, and our Tower N. Exploration Squares family of programs, LHI will utilize all these to shape and empower, from child to grandparent, a happily diverse community renewed in their God-liberty missions. Or, as best put in movie Raising Arizona jargon: “OK then.” Or, for today’s way: “I am Groot!”