The Florida Holocaust Museum Recognizes Humanitarian Actions of Students that Better the Lives of Others
June 9, 2016 [St. Petersburg, FL] — The Florida Holocaust Museum (The FHM) recently honored the humanitarian efforts of ninety-three exceptional students with its annual Anne Frank Humanitarian Award (AFHA) program, held May 24th and 25th at the Museum.
The AFHA program recognizes those humanitarian actions that better the lives of others. By “doing the right thing,” recipients hold true to the spirit of Anne Frank who, in the face of hardships, endured and did not abandon her ideals. The AFHA program was created to focus attention on the positive actions of today’s teens.
“This year marks the 15th anniversary of the Anne Frank Humanitarian Award. Each year, we continue to be enormously impressed by the character and accomplishments of our AFHA Honorees. These young people not only embrace the mission of The FHM but they are willing to do the hard work that is required to achieve the mission.” said Renée Walter, Co-Chair of the AFHA Program and member of The FHM’s Board of Directors.
The award, established in 2001, is presented to one Junior in each of the public and private high schools in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Sarasota and Manatee counties. The honorees are nominated by their principals, guidance counselors or teachers. These students are recognized both at their schools as well as at the Museum. Legislators, educators, family and friends were invited to join the Museum in honoring these students at the receptions. This year’s programs featured retired Co-Anchor of WFLA News Channel 8 and Honorary AFHA Co-Chair Gayle Sierens and former Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor. The AFHA recipients each receive a Florida Holocaust Museum Family Membership and two guest passes.
“Every year, I am honored to meet these students. They are living The FHM’s mission, bettering their schools, their communities and communities across the globe through their actions. These students are a reminder of Anne Frank’s words that, despite the constant yammering of news stories today to the contrary, “people are really good at heart.” They give me great hope for our collective future,” said Elizabeth Gelman, Executive Director of The FHM.
Some of the 2016 Anne Frank Humanitarian Award Honorees:
Heta Patel, C. Leon King High School
Heta has distinguished herself through her outstanding service communities near and far. She has raised over 2,000 lbs. of food for Feeding America, collected 350 pairs of eyeglasses for the New Eyes Foundation and she currently has an Indian Clothes and Books for Africa drive. She raised $500 to build a water tap at an orphanage in Tanzania, she was chosen as one of 12 juniors to participate in community service around the Gulf Coast as a member of the Ryan Nece Student Service Program, traveled to the Dominican Republic to help the needy and she has participated in extensive volunteering at the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital, most recently on a medical mission trip to India this past winter where she assisted doctors in treating their patients.
Blaine Ladd, Zephyrhills High School
Blaine is an excellent role model for his peers and is very involved in making his community a better place. He volunteers at a homeless food kitchen, for the Dade City Little League, with the Dade City Animal Clinic, at the Pasco County Fair, and for Thomas Promise, an organization that raises funds to feed homeless students at Zephyrhills High. At school, Blaine serves as the 4H Club Vice President, is a Relay for Life participant and volunteer, and he works with the Together We Stand Bully Prevention countywide program. He also is the founder of the ZHS Marketing Team, created to communicate and to promote across campus and throughout the community.
Indre Zalepuga, St. Stephen’s Episcopal School
Indre has a passion for building bridges between cultures. She created and maintains the website Baltic Bridge to unite different cultures. Indre has spent hundreds of hours on this project, which includes a pen pal program, and the Lithuanian government has recognized Baltic Bridge. She also founded “The View,” a multi-cultural magazine that showcases writing in several different languages and which is shared among schools across the world.
Ryan Regan, Palm Harbor University High School
Ryan Regan is a leader who is accepting of all individuals and admired by those who know and work with him. As a member of his school’s Interact Club he led the effort to create a fundraiser to benefit people affected by the earthquake in Haiti. He is President-Elect of his school’s chapter of HOSA (Health Occupation Students of America) and he is credited with strengthening this club through his collaborative efforts with school officials and other students. Ryan has distinguished himself through his volunteer service at Suncoast Hospice and has devoted over 525 hours to this organization where he interacts with patients and their families.
Anjali Sharma, Pine View School
Anjali has been described as a “tremendously selfless” young lady and can often be found quietly helping others. Inspired by an elderly neighbor, Anjali has always enjoyed reading and developed a passion for sharing books with others. She began to save her money and gift cards and to date Anjali has collected and donated over 2,000 books to children. Anjali contacted Memorial Elementary School in Arcadia, where books are sorely needed, and she began to make donations. She continues to visit the school and always brings along new books for the students. At Pine View Anjali is Editor-in-Chief of the “Match” newspaper and she is the Treasurer for the Health Occupations for Students of America Club.
About the Florida Holocaust Museum
One of the largest Holocaust museums in the country, and one of three nationally accredited Holocaust museums, The Florida Holocaust Museum honors the memory of millions of men, women and children who suffered or died in the Holocaust. The FHM is dedicated to teaching members of all races and cultures the inherent worth and dignity of human life in order to prevent future genocides. The FHM played a critical role in shaping legislation that in 1994 made Florida one of the first states in the nation to mandate Holocaust education in the public schools from kindergarten through twelfth grade. In a collaboration effort between The FHM and the Pinellas County School System, guidelines were developed for K-12 teachers with grade-appropriate instructional goals and bibliography for teaching the Holocaust. These guidelines are used by teachers throughout the nation as well as in Florida. The FHM’s renowned Teaching Trunk program sends trunks filled with grade-appropriate, dynamic literature and art-based lessons about the Holocaust, genocide and character education free of charge to classrooms throughout Florida and the continental United States. The FHM-created lesson plans and educational guides on the Holocaust and other genocides can also be found at TheFHM.org.