top of page

Punkin and Walter Hecht to be Honored with the 2021 Guardian of the Human Spirit Award

On Tuesday, November 9, 2021, Holocaust Museum Houston (HMH) will hold its Guardian of the Human Spirit Luncheon at Hilton Americas-Houston. Each year, the annual event honor’s an individual, or individuals, and institutions, who, through their dedication, have worked to enhance the lives of others and to better humankind. This year’s recipients of the Guardian of the Human Spirit Award are Punkin and Walter Hecht, two of the museum’s founding supporters and long-time patrons. In further support of HMH, Walter served as board chair from 2007 to 2009 and Punkin has served on the Board of Trustees and is a current member of HMH’s Board of Advisors.


Collaboratively and independently, the two have supported a number of community causes. Both served on the Board of Trustees at Seven Acres, and, as board members, executive officers, or volunteers for such organizations as: Congregation Beth Israel; the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston; Jewish Family Service; Jewish Federation of Greater Houston; Jewish Institute of Medical Research; the National Council of Jewish Women Greater Houston; and Women’s American O.R.T., Inc. 

John Quiñones, an ABC news correspondent, and creator and host of the long-running ABC program, What Would You Do?, will be the guest speaker at the luncheon.As well as having a news career that has spanned 35 years, Quiñones is the author of two books and the recipient of seven Emmy Awards. Recently, he was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Hispanic Media Coalition and with the Guerra Lifetime Achievement Award from the San Antonio Association of Hispanic Journalists. 

This year’s honorary chairs are Sofia Adrogué; Clyde Drexler; The Honorable Lina Hidalgo, Harris County Judge; Bruce Stein; and The Honorable Sylvester Turner, Mayor of the City of Houston. The luncheon chairs are Michele and Richard Deutsch, Cheryl and Stephen Golub, B.J. and Buddy Herz, and Gail and Dr. Milton Klein. The host committee chairs are Eileen and Lenny Weisman.

PaperCity magazine serves as media sponsor.                                                         

Previous recipients of the award have included: Dr. Milton Boniuk; the Astros Foundation; Texas A&M Corps of Cadets and Aggie Liberators of World War II; UT President Gregory L. Fenves and The University of Texas at Austin; Ric Campo; Velva G. and H. Fred Levine; Edith and Josef Mincberg; Bill Morgan and Murry Bowden; the Harry Mach family; KIPP founders Dave Levin and Mike Feinberg; former Mayor Annise Parker; Barbara and Gerald Hines; Marc J. Shapiro; Lester and Sue Smith; Sandra Weiner and Martin Fein; Naomi Warren and Fred Zeidman; Joan and Stanford Alexander; Ed Wulfe and the H-E-B grocery chain; Jack Blanton and The Houston Chronicle; the Rev. William A. Lawson and Julie and Ben Rogers; Linda P. Lay and Siegi Izakson; and Ron Stone.

For tickets and more information, please visit, contact, or call 713-527-1622.

About Holocaust Museum Houston

Holocaust Museum Houston (HMH), Lester and Sue Smith Campus, is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization. It was founded in 1996 by Houston-area Holocaust survivors, their descendants, and members of the community and is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. The museum is dedicated to educating people about the Holocaust, remembering the 6 million Jews and other innocent victims who lost their lives during this terrible period in history, and honoring the survivors’ legacy. Using the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides, HMH teaches the dangers of hatred, prejudice, and apathy.

bottom of page