Holocaust Museum, NCJW among this year’s Focus St. Louis honorees

Focus St. Louis has announced two local Jewish community groups will receive the organization’s “What’s Right With the Region!” awards. Focus St. Louis will honor the Holocaust Museum and Learning Center of St. Louis in the category of Improving Racial Equality and Social Justice. It will also recognize the Healing Hearts Bank — a program of National Council of Jewish Women – St. Louis Section — in the “Responding to Community Needs and Entrepreneurs” category.

The awards recognize 20 individuals, organizations and/or initiatives making a difference in the region.

HMLC Director Jean Cavender said the award is particularly meaningful since the museum will be celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. 

“We are thrilled to be honored and recognized by Focus St. Louis with this award. It is a great way to start out 2015,” she said. By August, Cavender said a half million people will have visited the museum since its opening in 1995.

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NCJW’s Healing Hearts Bank builds a community of women assisting women in need by providing them with microloans. These loans of up to $500 are given to underserved women and survivors of domestic violence who apply through their “bank,” run by volunteer bankers from NCJW and partner agencies. The goal of the program is to help women move from financial dependence to independence.

“This program is so important to the women it serves because they have the opportunity to ‘restart’ their lives with this small loan,” said NCJW Board President Darien Arnstein. “Our volunteers have known this is a great program, so it is exciting to see the community recognize the strength of Healing Hearts Bank.” 

The Healing Hearts Bank is chaired by Marilyn Ratkin and the Banker Team Leaders are Katie Silversmith, Eve Frank Bensky, Gail Lapin and Sue Rundblad.

The Focus St. Louis award ceremony is Thursday, May 7 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at The Sheldon, 3648 Washington Boulevard.