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A New Life--and Job--for Refugee

April 27, 1986

Back home in Poland, Jerzy (George) Luczkiewicz worked as a plasterer, plumber, house painter and bricklayer. But in his new home in Westchester, he is cleaning carpets and furniture for Bill Sol, a member of the Westchester United Methodist Church, which is sponsoring the settlement of Luczkiewicz and his family in the United States. They arrived as refugees a month ago, carrying everything they owned in a few suitcases.

Sol doubled the size of his one-man business--he let his last helper go after the Olympics--when he pushed aside the language barrier and hired Luczkiewicz as a $5-an-hour helper. "I needed someone and thought I'd give it the old college try," Sol said. "We both have a dictionary. I don't speak Polish and he still speaks very little English, but we're getting along beautifully."

Luczkiewicz, 36, and his 30-year-old wife, Janina, study English every night at Emerson Adult School in Westchester. Their three children, who range in age from 5 to 9, are attending St. Jerome Catholic School on scholarships provided by the school. The family recently moved into a home rented for them by the Methodist church, which also has been paying for food, furniture and medical care.

Luczkiewicz was a Solidarity labor union organizer in Poland. He was arrested eight times for his activities. His wife was arrested twice for demonstrating. Luczkiewicz said in an earlier interview that government suppression eventually wore him down, and the family had to leave Poland if they wanted to be safe and happy.

Sol said the Luczkiewiczes' goal is to find work in his field, but that in the meantime, he's good at steam-cleaning carpets. "He seems to be a very wonderful person who just wanted a free country to bring up his family, where they could practice their religion and have freedom of speech, which so many of us take for granted," Sol said.

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