Resident Spotlight: Joanna Kasian found a new life in America


Joanna Kasian found a new life in America!

From working on a family farm in Poland to finding love and raising a family in America, Joanna Kasian has lived a rich life.

“I always have a story to tell,” says the current Homeland Center resident.

Joanna was born in Poland in 1940, one of nine children to a Ukrainian mother and a father who was “Polish, Polish, Polish.”

Her mother’s parents were poor farmers, owning pigs and cattle but never able to afford a horse. Her father came from a more affluent farming family. When he married her mother, they worked hard to make their farm a success, eventually owning horses of their own.

At age 19, Joanna came to America for three months, visiting an aunt in a place she knew only by name: Brooklyn, New York. Stepping off the boat after a six-day crossing, she breathed the air of the U.S. and knew where she wanted to be.

“God help me to stay here,” she prayed.

Her first letter about her arrival went to her best friend from childhood, then living in Allentown, Pennsylvania. That friend had two daughters whose godfather was a friend named Harry Kasian.

“We met and fell in love,” she says. “We got married in 1960, April 5th, to be exact. I guess God heard my prayers.”

Coming to America, she already spoke Polish, Ukrainian, and Russian. With her aptitude for languages, she learned English by continually asking the meanings of words and writing them down.

She and Harry lived in the Easton area, near Allentown. He worked in a factory making conveyor belts. She worked in factories, too — making candy cigarettes, and then “hemming and sewing and serging” for 20 years in a factory making men’s pants.

When that factory closed, she found work an hour away, providing direct care for residents at a New Jersey home for adults with developmental delays and disabilities. She worked different shifts, helping feed and bathe the residents, sometimes changing a diaper or cleaning a soiled bed.

“Believe it or not, I really enjoyed it, and they liked me, too,” she says. “When I retired, they gave me the biggest party.”

What did she like about such grueling work?

“Taking care of others,” she says. “These were people that couldn’t take care of themselves. I’m so proud I did that job.”

At Homeland, she appreciates the aid provided by staff when she needs help. From her room overlooking Homeland’s quiet courtyard and fountain, she says, “I love it here. Love it, love it! I like everything and anything.”

Joanna and her husband raised four children – his son from a previous marriage, plus their two daughters and a son. Their son and youngest daughter are both lawyers. Their older daughter is a teacher.

She remembers some hard times, including a liver condition and operation when she was 9 years old. Paintings in her room of the Last Supper and the Holy Family testify to the abiding faith that helped her endure and thrive.

“This is what helped me to live and stay here,” she says. “I was three years in the hospital when I was a 9 years old. God gave me the life to live long enough to come here, find a man, marry him, and have three wonderful children of my own.”