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Eight Hundred Supporters Gather to Help Fight Prejudice, Hatred, and Apathy

Holocaust Museum Houston hosts the 2021 Guardian of the Human Spirit Luncheon raising $700,000

Photo Credits: Priscilla Dickson and Wilson Parish

The Celebration

On Tuesday, November 9, 2021, Holocaust Museum Houston (HMH) welcomed 800 in-person guests to the Hilton Americas-Houston for the twenty-fifth annual Guardian of the Human Spirit Luncheon. Michele and Richard Deutsch, Cheryl and Stephen Golub, B.J. and Buddy Herz, and Gail and Milton Klein were this year’s chairs. Sofia Adrogué; Clyde Drexler; The Honorable Lina Hidalgo, Harris County Judge; Bruce Stein; and The Honorable Sylvester Turner, Mayor of the City of Houston were the honorary chairs. Eileen and Lenny Weisman chaired the host committee. This year’s recipients of the Guardian of the Human Spirit Award were Punkin and Walter Hecht. HMH established the award in 1997 as a platform for acknowledging dedicated institutions and leaders who have worked to enhance the lives of others and to better humankind. ABC news correspondent and creator and host of What Would You Do?, John Quiñones, was the guest speaker.


The Story

Punkin and Walter Hecht, the recipients of the 2021 Guardian of the Human Spirit Award, for their commitment to service and building an open-minded society, are long-time patrons of the museum and among its founding supporters. Walter served as HMH board chair from 2007 to 2009, and Punkin has served on the Board of Trustees and is a current member of the Board of Advisors. Beyond HMH, the couple has served on the Seven Acres Jewish Senior Care Services, Inc. Board of Trustees and as board members, executive members, or volunteers for numerous valuable organizations, including Congregation Beth Israel, the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston, Jewish Family Service of Houston, Jewish Federation of Greater Houston, Jewish Institute for Medical Research, National Council of Jewish Women, and Women’s AmericanORT.


The Moments

John Quiñones shared the story of his personal journey from working as a migrant farm worker to co-anchoring ABC News and Primetime. He began his illustrious 35-year news career at KTRH in Houston before moving to KPRC-TV in Houston. He later relocated to Chicago where his career flourished. Quiñones has received seven Emmy Awards and was recently honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Hispanic Media Coalition and the Henry Guerra Lifetime Achievement Award from the San Antonio Association of Hispanic Journalists. He is also the author of two books.


PaperCityMagazine served as the media sponsor, Gittings provided the special portrait photography, the Fred&Mabel R Parks Foundation was the speaker sponsor, and Memorial Hermann sponsored the VIP reception.


The successful event raised $700,000 to fund general operations and educational and outreach programs that teach the dangers of prejudice, hatred, and apathy using the lessons of the Holocaust.


Guests: Ginger Blanton, Tali Blumrosen, Laurie and Milton Boniuk, Rhona and Bruce Caress, Nancy and Jack Dinerstein, Denise and Steve Estrin, Paula Goldstein, Carol and Dr. Barry Goodfriend, Janet Gurwitch, Shelly and Brian Hendry, HMH Board Chair Carl Josehart and Sam Jacobson, Mady and Ken Kades, Sunni and Gary Markowitz, Judy and Mark Mucasey, Regina Rogers, Geri and James Roper, Limor and Stuart Smith, Helen and Andrew Spector, Joy and Benjamin Warren, and HMH CEO Dr. Kelly J. Zúñiga.


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.

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