The Florida Holocaust Museum Recognizes the Humanitarian Actions of Students that Make the World a Better Place
After two years of virtual award ceremonies, Anne Frank Humanitarian Award winners will return to the museum for an in-person commemoration that will span over three days highlighting specific counties and featuring prominent keynote speakers.
For the past 21 years, The Florida Holocaust Museum (The FHM) has been honoring the humanitarian efforts of exceptional high school juniors with its annual Anne Frank Humanitarian Award (AFHA), presented by Publix Super Markets Charities, Inc. These remarkable young people will be recognized during school presentations and at a special award ceremony 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.
The program was started in 2001 by Irene Weiss, a former FHM Board Chair and current Advisory Council Member, and is chaired Traci Klein, The FHM Board Member. Retired WFLA News Channel 8 anchor, Gayle Sierens, has served as the AFHA Honorary Chair since its inception.
“One of the things I appreciate about our Anne Frank Humanitarian Award program is that it is a great reminder that every individual can make a positive impact on his or her community in big and small ways,” said Interim Executive Director, Erin Blankenship.
The award is presented to one junior in every public and major private high school in Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, Manatee, and Sarasota counties. The honorees are nominated by their principals, guidance counselors, or teachers. These students are recognized both at their schools and at the Museum. Legislators, educators, family, and friends were invited to join the Museum in honoring these students at the receptions. In addition, the AFHA recipients each received a glass plaque and a family membership.
By “doing the right thing”, AFHA recipients hold true to the nature and spirit of Anne Frank who, in the face of great hardship, did not abandon her ideals. Their conscious efforts to better the lives of others in their schools, community, and beyond, embody the mission and principles of the Museum and help make the world a better place. As role models for their peers and the community during their senior year and beyond, their gifts of kindness, altruism, and community service help to make the world a better place and remind us that with their leadership our future is bright and hopeful.
Each AFHA recipient will receive a glass plaque, a family membership to The FHM, a copy of The Diary of Young Girl by Anne Frank, and an inspirational stone. The program is made possible by presenting sponsor Publix Super Markets Charities, Inc. Additional sponsors include: The James H. and Amy G. Shimberg Family Foundation, Laura and Kevin Morris in memory of Zach Morris, Werner and Rosa Cohen (of blessed memory), Lois and Peter Pardoll, Irene and Steve Weiss, Rachael and Don Worthington, Carolyn Bass; and Jody & Dennis Sherman.
Some of the 2022 Anne Frank Humanitarian Award Honorees:
Mykenzie Davis-Cowart, Boca Ciega High School (Pinellas County)
Mykenzi took notice of the homeless population in the city and recognized how much she had been blessed with, and how much they needed. Together with her mom, she started a non-profit organization, Kenzi’s Korner with the goal of providing support to at-risk youth and families facing homelessness. Since 2019, Kenzi’s Korner has served more than 200 families and raised funds to provide a scholarship for a student in need to attend Florida A&M University. As a community advocate, Mykenzi served as a moderator for a panel discussion between middle and high school students and police officers. The discussion, “How we Feel When They See Us” focused on improving communication in the wake of numerous African Americans being killed by police officers.
Andrew Foster, Blake High School (Hillsborough County)
Andrew’s driving force is his ability to see the world from the perspective of others. He sees a need in the world for individuals to step up and make a positive impact on the community around them. Because of this perspective, Andrew has amassed over three hundred volunteer hours serving the Community Food Pantry. His leadership inspires others to emulate his dedication. His supervisor tells us that his hard work always shows at the Pantry. He’s a skillful leader and a great team player. An outstanding scholar, Andrew participates in numerous school clubs and organizations including the National Honor Society, where he participates in community service programs. He serves as an acolyte at Espiritu Santo Catholic Church.
Priya Wilson, Palmetto High School (Manatee County)
During COVID, while many service activities were canceled or postponed, Priya sought out opportunities to make a difference. Despite the challenges, she has accumulated over one hundred hours of community service. When she learned that visitors were prohibited at nursing homes, Priya spent hours making cards to send to the residents and participated in “Dive into Reading,” reading to children via Zoom. As a volunteer for “Feeding Empty Little Tummies,” Priya prepared food bags for children in the community to take home for the weekends when they do not have access to school breakfast and lunches. She also helped with organizing and cleaning the facility.
Marcus Coleman, Countryside High School (Pinellas County)
As a member of 5000 Role Models, Marcus understands the value of positive peer and adult role models. He surrounds himself with inspirational people who guide his everyday actions and works hard to be a positive influence on others. He is an outstanding student and accomplished athlete who has been recognized with Joseph Carwise award in 2020 and 2021. The Carwise award is given to students who maintain high academic performance and display exemplary character throughout the school year. He is a recipient of the Dr. Mac J. Williams Sr. Academic Excellence award and was named J. V. Football Offensive Player of the Year. Marcus participates in the Black Student Union as an advocate and the National Achievers Society at St. Petersburg College. He serves as Vice President of the New Zion Youth Department and Youth Usher at New Zion Church and volunteers as a server at Breaking Bread Ministries.
Abigail Loeffler, Sarasota High School (Sarasota County)
The desire to help others is a natural part of who Abby is. From a very young age, she has recognized the need for people to help others in their communities. When she was eight years old, Abby was already making a mark as a humanitarian. She was recognized by Suncoast Blood Bank as their youngest volunteer. She still volunteers at the blood bank, eight years and counting. At age eleven, she started volunteering at the Martial Arts camp she had attended when she was younger. She recognized the positive impact the camp and its volunteers had on her as a camper, she wanted to make the same effort for younger campers as a counselor and instructor herself. She provides a positive role model for youngsters. She is a leader in numerous campus activities and organizations, always bringing the spirit of dedication to service with her.
Anne Frank Humanitarian Award dates and keynote speakers:
Tuesday, May 10th Hillsborough County Award Reception featuring Keynote Speaker Tampa Police Chief Mary O’Connor
Wednesday, May 11th Pinellas County Award Reception featuring Keynote Speaker Senator Jeff Brandes
Thursday, May 12th Manatee, Pasco, and Sarasota County Award Reception featuring Keynote Speaker Sarasota County Commissioner Hagen Brody
Please stay engaged with The FHM online through the Museum’s virtual tour, virtual resources, online curriculum, collections, Holocaust Survivor testimonies, and on its social media pages Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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. For additional information, please visit www.TheFHM.org