During receptions on May 29 and May 30, the FHM honored 93 high school juniors with the 2013 Anne Frank Humanitarian Award (AFHA) which recognizes students who make a conscious decision to spend their time improving the lives of others.
"Often the students who the schools nominate for this award are 'under the radar'," said Renee Walter, Program Co-chair, "those who may not necessarily be top scholars or the best athletes but are known for their humanitarian spirit and volunteer activities."
The activities these students participate in are as varied as the students themselves, said Elizabeth Gelman, Executive Director of the Florida Holocaust Museum. "Acts of kindness range from helping an elderly neighbor to tutoring children with special needs, from volunteering in church programs to raising much needed funds for charity to creating a peer counseling program at school.
Gayle Sierens, Co-Anchor for WFLA-TV News Channel 8 and Honorary Co-chair of the AFHA Program and Dr. Helen Levine, Regional Vice Chancellor, University Advancement, USF St. Petersburg and member of the Florida Holocaust Museum's Board of Directors, participated as special guest speakers on May 29 and May 30, respectively.
"The award program was created just after 9/11 when news stories around the country seemed to center around a few youth who did terrible things in their communities," said Gelman. "FHM Board member Irene Weiss created the program to celebrate the multitude of young people who were focused on improving their community and the world. Anne Frank was chosen as the program's symbol because of Anne's positive outlook of the world embodied in her words, 'In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart'."
Since its inception in 2001, the AFHA has garnered 100% participation from all eligible public, private and parochial schools in Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas and Sarasota counties. Confidential nominations are submitted by the schools and reviewed by members of the AFHA committee. The honorees are recognized, by AFHA volunteer presenters, at their schools' junior award ceremonies, in addition to the Museum's receptions.
The Museum is grateful to Steve Raymund, Sustaining Sponsor of the AFHA program. Additional sponsors include the Florida Holocaust Museum's Women of Conscience, Rosa and Werner Cohn and the James & Amy Shimberg Foundation.
Renee Walter and Jody Sherman are Co-chairs of the Anne Frank Humanitarian Award Program. County chairs are: Traci Klein and Brandy Gold, Hillsborough County; Rhoda Langstein, Pasco County; Claudia Stern, Pinellas County; Shirley Stepp and Rose Holloway, Manatee and Sarasota Counties. Irene Weiss is the founder of the AFHA Program.
For questions or for honoree names please call Elizabeth Gelman, 727.820.0100, ext. 221.