The FHM’s “To Life 20/20: A Vision For The Future” benefit raised $650,000 in support of its educational and outreach programs
|February 20, 2020 [St. Petersburg, FL] – The Florida Holocaust Museum (The FHM) held its annual To Life benefit at The Vinoy® Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club on Saturday, February 8th. Over 700 supporters of the Museum attended the sold out To Life 20/20: A Vision For The Future benefit. The benefit raised a total of $650,000 in support of the Museum’s educational and outreach programs, the Museum’s highest grossing To Life benefit to date!
The FHM’s educational and outreach programs are a vital part of its mission and during 2018-19, The FHM worked with 75,334 children in 637 schools and 1,460 teachers. The benefit, appropriately titled To Life 20/20: A Vision For The Future, highlighted the Museum’s educational and outreach programs, with the overall message that we must remember the Holocaust and empower future generations to ensure that history never repeats itself.
At the beginning of the program, The FHM posthumously honored Sir Nicholas Winton with the 2020 Loebenberg Humanitarian Award. In 2003, the Loebenberg Humanitarian Award was established and named for the late Edie and Walter Loebenberg, whose dream to establish The FHM became a reality through their vision and philanthropy, as well as the support and generosity of community leaders. Each year, the Award recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to The FHM and their vision, foresight, and dedication have furthered the Museum’s mission to recognize the inherent worth and dignity of human life in order to prevent future genocides.
Winton quietly organized the rescue of 669 Czech children, most of them Jewish, from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia before World War II. Born to German-Jewish parents who had emigrated to Britain, Winton found homes for the children and arranged for their safe passage to Britain. His work went unnoticed by the world for over 50 years, until 1988 when he was invited to the BBC television program, That’s Life, where he was reunited with several of the children that he had saved. He died in 2015 at the age of 106. Winton’s son, Nicholas Winton, Jr., accepted the award on his behalf.
“We are thrilled to present awards to upstanders from different generations whose vision for the future led to action that continues to improve the world,” said Michael Igel, Board Chair of The Florida Holocaust Museum.
Then the Museum had a big announcement. The FHM is creating a center designed for children 6-10 years old and their families that includes interactive exhibits, visual art, and virtual reality. Featuring artwork by Toby Fluek, wood carvings by Dr. Herb Savel, and an exhibit and virtual reality experience based on the true story of Holocaust Survivor Roman Kent and his dog Lala. Originally named in memory of Museum founder’s Walter and Edie Loebenberg, the Loebenberg family graciously asked that the center instead be named in honor of Marty and Janie Borell for all the time and treasure they have contributed to the Museum. The Janie and Marty Borell Center for Children and Families will be located on the Museum’s third floor with an anticipated opening date of 2024.
The FHM then presented Claire Sarnowski with the 2020 Legacy Award. The FHM’s Legacy Award is given each year to honor a person whose commitment to sharing the story of a Holocaust Survivor empowers future generations to use the lessons of the past to create a better future. Because family and friends of Survivors will soon be the ones responsible for ensuring these stories are told, their efforts are becoming more and more essential.
Sarnowski met Holocaust Survivor Alter Wiener as a fourth-grade student in the Oregon Public Schools. Alter spoke to her class about surviving five different concentration camps and losing most of his family. Following his presentation, she forged a special friendship with Alter, learning of his lifelong dream to implement mandatory curriculum standards for
teaching students about the Holocaust and other genocides. Sarnowski, as a high school freshman, reached out to her state senator who sponsored the bill. Because of her advocacy and persistence, the bill became law in June 2019 requiring that all Oregon
students receive Holocaust education.
Concluding the program, Elizabeth Dearborn Hughes was also honored with The FHM’s 2020 Loebenberg Humanitarian Award. Dearborn Hughes, a Tampa Bay native, is the CEO and co-founder of the Akilah Institute, the only college for women in Rwanda, and Davis College, a global network of universities offering affordable and market relevant education. She learned of the Rwandan genocide while a student at Berkeley Preparatory School in Tampa and upon her 2006 college graduation, she moved to Rwanda. In 2010, Elizabeth and her husband Dave founded The Akilah Institute in Rwanda to provide education and career development to promising young female leaders.
“It is our hope that these visionaries inspire all of us to do our part to create a brighter future. The good news is that we are all in control of how tomorrow will look. Our honorees and our Museum are proof of that. However, we cannot stop here. We must continue to take action every day of our lives,” said Igel.
The FHM is one of only three accredited Holocaust museums in the United States and provides quality Holocaust and human rights education to adults and students. To date, over 1 million students have learned the concepts of upstander behavior, the rights and responsibilities of living in a democracy, and speaking out against injustice through the Museum’s educational outreach.
The Museum invites the community to attend numerous programs, events, and exhibitions, along with its daily educational and outreach efforts, throughout the upcoming year. To learn more about The FHM’s upcoming events and exhibitions, visit the Museum online at TheFHM.org.
The Florida Holocaust Museum is located at 55 5th Street S, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
About The Florida Holocaust MuseumOne 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. For additional information, please visit www.TheFHM.org.