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Gottscheer Relief Association, New York

Gottscheer Kranken Unterstützungs Verein

Description:  The Gottscheer Kranken Unterstützungs Verein, Inc. von Gross New York (KUV) was founded in 1901 for the purpose of helping the Gottscheer immigrants find comfort and support in a new land (America) so that they will be better able to handle the pressures of assimilating into the mainstream of a new land.  Our Society promotes mutual support to our members, in cases of illness and distress while encouraging the preservation of our heritage.

History:  The founding fathers of the Society, who immigrated to the United States at the end of the nineteenth century, encountered hard and difficult times in their new homeland.  Their hardships were compounded by a new language, difficult manual labor jobs, meager earnings and no place to turn during times of unexpected illness and financial burdens.  This paved the way for the founding of the Gottscheer KUV (Gottscheer Sick Benefits Society) by a group of Gottscheer immigrants on April 24, 1901, whose membership was open to able-bodied men of Austrian or German parentage.

The Gottscheer KUV sought to be an invaluable aid to the Gottscheer immigrant who was the breadwinner of his family.  The long workday and difficult working conditions took their toll physically, while illness in the family inevitably resulted in increased expenses and a potential financial crisis if it affected the man of the house.  Financial assistance and mutual support during times of illness, distress and death were the basis for the Society’s inception.  The knowledge that there would be some financial relief during times of illness, offered the Society’s members peace of mind and welcome relief from potentially burdensome financial pressures.  Additionally, the camaraderie and social interaction that the Society offered, was a welcome change of pace from the daily rigors of hard work. 

Other goals of the Society were to preserve some of the traditions of Gottscheer culture and customs, and provide appropriate aid to their countrymen during times of need.  This particularly was the case when financial aid was provided to their countrymen in Gottschee immediately following WWI and then again after WWII, in cooperation with the newly established Gottscheer Relief Association of Ridgewood, New York.  Of particular note is the prominent role the Society played in the creation of the Gottscheer Central Holding Corp., which in turn established the “Gottscheer Clubhouse” in 1924.

A traditional event that was established in 1902 and celebrated each year since, was the annual “Bauernball” (Farmers Ball).  In the early 1920’s, an annual children’s Christmas celebration was initiated to entertain and provide gifts for the children of the Society’s members.  Our Society has also been an active partner in every annual Gottscheer Volksfest since its start in 1947, by the Gottscheer Relief Association.

In January 1978, we started awarding an annual college scholarship of $500 to eligible members.  In 2001 (after 100 years of existence) that amount was raised to $1,000 for eligible members.  Another big change, which took place in 2000, was a constitutional change recognizing that women and their role in society had changed from the traditional mother and housewife, to a more prominent and significant status in the workplace as well as the home.  This resulted in the Gottscheer Kranken Unterstützungs Verein being the first traditionally all-male society to accept women as members.

The Society embarked on its second century of existence with hope, anticipation, and enthusiasm that its heritage will live on for many more years.  And in order to meet this challenge, the Gottscheer KUV has and will continue to make, necessary changes and improvements designed to ensure the continued financial and spiritual health of the Society, while promoting an atmosphere of cooperation, compassion and camaraderie within the Gottscheer community.

Bauernball, January 2004

    Robert Morscher   - President
    Ronald Ostermann  - Vice President
    Fred W. Hoefferle - Financial Secr.
    John Tschinkel    - Treasurer
    Andrew Schneider  - Secretary

 For information, contact:
       Fred W. Hoefferle
       (917) 601-7524

Additional information:  Some of the events that were sponsored by the KUV in the past few years have been: gambling boat cruise out of Long Island, dinner and theater events, their 100th anniversary celebration and a financial planning seminar given by the VP of Prudential Securities. However, there are two annual events that are sponsored each year like clockwork.
(1)      The annual Gottscheer Bauernball, which features dancing to a live band, the awarding of the annual college scholarship, a “button accordion Jamboree” that always generates entertainment, a chance book raffle that gives away hundreds of dollars in either prizes or cash awards.  The Bauernball is always held on the fourth Saturday of January-at the Gottscheer Hall, in Ridgewood, New York.
(2)      The annual Kinderbescherung just before Christmas.  This event is supported by several other Gottscheer organizations and provides live entertainment for children ages one to fifteen.  Entertainment varies from year to year and has included Magicians, Clowns, life-size puppet shows, and more.  Following the entertainment, Santa himself makes a grand appearance and gives out gift packages of candy, chocolate, cookies, fruit and many more goodies.  Kids get to sit on Santa's lap for a picture to preserve the memory.  Non-members are welcome to this event and their children can also get a gift bag from Santa and enjoy the entertainment for just $5 per child.  This celebration is usually held the Sunday before Christmas at Gottscheer Hall.

    ROBERT MORSCHER (718) 386-6181
    JOHN TSCHINKEL  (718) 386-3915
    FRED HOEFFERLE  (917) 601-7524

Kinderbescherung 2003
657 Fairview Avenue
Ridgewood, New York 11385
tel: 718-366-3030