Last year’s 2010 Unsung Heroes event drew more than 300 people to recognize the Light’s inaugural group of Heroes. This year’s event, honoring 10 Unsung Heroes, is Monday, May 23 at the Jewish Community Center Staenberg Family Complex Arts and Education Building.

By Lois Caplan

COMBINE CIRCUS FLORA WITH THE JEWISH FOOD PANTRY and you have a winning combination. That’s what is going to happen at 1 p.m. Sunday, June 12 when the 20th anniversary of the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry is celebrated with a performance of St. Louis’ own European style circus, Circus Flora.  This afternoon of circus delights will take place under the big top tent adjacent to Powell Hall. “Vagabond Adventures,” Circus Flora’s 2011 production, will be the main attraction along with popcorn and peanuts. It is truly a circus with a purpose.

This is the pantry’s annual Feed the Pantry- Feed the Soul fundraiser. Jessica Phillips, co-chair with Don Eisenberg, says “the need for food continues to grow and every month we see record number of requests.  In March alone the food pantry fed a record 4,700 people. Our goal with the circus is to fill more than 500 grocery bags and raise enough in donations to replenish the empty shelves of the food pantry.”

Admission to this special afternoon is a bag of groceries and a donation of any amount along with your tickets to the show.  Contributions allow you to purchase discounted tickets for the performance in the JF&CS reserved seating block.  These specially designated tickets are only available by calling Jean at JF&CS at 314-993-1000 but be sure to reserve your place before June 1. Obviously, sponsorship levels, which begin at $100 and include tickets and recognition in the program, will be even more helpful in filling the Harvey Kornblum Food Pantry’s shelves. 

THE GRAND CENTER ARTS ACADEMY (GCAA), the first and only performing arts charter school in the state, will celebrate the successful completion of its first year with an inaugural fundraiser on June 4 at its temporary home, Third Baptist Church, 620 N. Grand Boulevard. The event includes dinner at 5 p.m., a concert at 7 p.m. featuring students and professional artists, and a silent auction of student and donated art. This is the first annual Arts Infusion 2011, showcasing the talent and promise of the school and its students. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for kids 14 and under. Reservations for the dinner are required, and tickets may be purchased in advance by visiting Tickets for the concert may be purchased at the door.

Money raised at the June 4th event will go to support the school’s music, theater, dance and art classes with materials, equipment and supplies. When classes resume August 22, GCAA will occupy the brand-new, renovated, state-of-the-art facility at 711 N. Grand Boulevard across from Powell Hall where the school will be a beacon for outstanding education, academically and artistically.

PROVIDENT, a multi-faceted social service agency, is celebrating its 150th anniversary at a gala on Saturday evening, June 4 at the Chase Park Plaza. Provident is St. Louis’ oldest and most venerable social service and mental health agency serving disadvantaged citizens in our community – particularly adults in crisis and kids at risk.

“We have been around for 150 years. At one time, we partnered with the Washington University School of Social Work and later in our history we were known as Family and Children’s Service and now we are also the Life Crisis Line,” explained Risa Zwerling Wrighton, a longtime member of the Provident board and co-chair of the fundraising event with Barbara Abbot. “Provident has been doing its work quietly for a century and a half, catching people who fall through the cracks and those who struggle with poverty, addictions and other life challenges.”

The cost of the gala (black tie optional) is $200 per person. “We will have a very moving program including testimonials from distinguished members of our community who have been helped by Provident. Some of our after school kids will perform music before the dinner and after there will be dancing to live music,” Wrighton continued  “We see this as an opportunity to re-introduce Provident to the community after 150 years of serving behind the scenes.”

For reservations or more information contact Leah Bernstein at 314-802-2623 or on line at [email protected].

THE JEWISH LIGHT’S 2011 UNSUNG HEROES will be recognized this year from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday, May 23 at the Jewish Community Center Staenberg Family Complex Arts and Education Building, 2 Millstone Campus Drive. In addition to desserts and coffee, the event will feature the presentation of the awards to the 10 Heroes. Sheri Sherman is co-chairing Unsung Heroes (with Betsy Rubenstein and Susan Fadem), and according to my daughter Leslie,”she gets my vote for the biggest hero.”

At the committee’s request, Leslie, a 2010 Unsung Hero, will sing at the opening of this year’s Unsung ceremony.  She has selected her own “Hallelujah,” set to the music of Leonard Cohen, which is all about the “angels” among us who work every day to make the world a better place.  For reservations at $18 per person, contact Ann Kusher at [email protected] or call her at 314-743-3660.