Bumek, the 'little bum,' makes homeless feel at home at Polish American Association

February 6, 2013 3:27:57 PM PST
For 19 years, Bumek the cat has helped people with addictions recover at the Polish American Association.

Mostly Polish immigrants who are recovering from addictions or are homeless come to the shelter on North Cicero for help with English and finding jobs. They find food, counseling, and Bumek, a therapy cat.

"Bumek was two months old when he came to us in 1994. He was a gift to us from a client who was recovering from alcohol addiction," Dorota Lewandowska said. "We just celebrated his birthday on January, 28th. His nineteenth birthday."

Bumek's an old cat. Probably at least 100 in human years. He's not agile as he once was, and not as friendly either. He's grumpy, the association said, but still working as a therapy cat.

"Our cat means safety, and remember family in Poland," Lewandowska said. Even if Bumek doesn't know it, he's bring a touch of home to the homeless.

"Bumek kind of like gets to know everybody. They get to pet him a little bit and it gets people to come out of their shell, you know. Break down the walls a little bit," Tomasz Kurzawa, client, said.

"He creates a different atmosphere in the shelter, you know. He makes the shelter like a home," Jack Zurowski, Polish American Association, said.

Bumek's heritage is a mystery, but if he were a dog, he'd be a mutt. And that name? What does Bumek mean?

"In Polish it means little bum," Lewandowska said. "A nickname our clients gave him."

Bumek, the freeloading, little bum. Everyone's friend when they've got food.

Old man Bumek may be on his last legs, but he's got four of them. And nine lives.

More info:

Polish American Association
3834 N. Cicero Ave., Chicago, Illinois, 60641