SALEM — For Darek Barcikowski, a Salem resident managing Bill Walczak’s campaign for mayor of Boston, community involvement began a decade ago in his family’s deli in South Boston.
Since arriving in this country as a 9-year-old boy from Poland, Barcikowski had proudly helped out in the family business. His full-time job after college, though, was at a large accounting firm.
“I was basically crunching numbers every day,” said Barcikowski, now 35 and working full time on the historic campaign to elect a mayor of Boston following the 20-year reign of Tom Menino.
“I knew it wasn’t for me. I wanted to do something on my own — my own business. I came up with this idea to start a Polish newspaper in Boston. There were no Polish-language media outlets in the city.
“I remember at the deli people would come in and we had this bulletin board with events, apartments for rent, Polish attorneys. ... It was the only way to get information about what was happening in the community.”
From that bulletin board at The Baltic Deli on Dorchester Avenue, Barcikowski went to the neighborhood Polish church to recruit graphic designers and other volunteers, reached out to businesses with ties to the community and put the first paper together in his apartment.
From that humble beginning, a small empire grew that eventually would open doors for Barcikowski in the world of politics.
At one point, Barcikowski’s White Eagle Media had eight newspapers stretching from Florida to California, a subsidiary in the United Kingdom and a graphic design studio and magazine in Poland.
In 2004, John Kerry’s presidential campaign approached him to do ethnic outreach to the country’s 10 million Polish-Americans.
“That was my first political involvement,” he said.
It lit a spark.
Barcikowski was invited to join the National Democratic Ethnic Coordinating Council, an arm of the Democratic National Committee.