Light names 2014 class of Unsung Heroes

This year’s Unsung Heroes are:  (top row, from left) Marvin Beckerman, Toddy Goldman, Judy and Dr. Bob Hellman and Sanford “Sandy” Jaffe; (bottom row, from left) Sam Klein, Kathy Lebedun, Buddy Lebman, Neil Marglous and Myra Rosenthal. Not pictured are the Crown Center for Senior Living’s home meal delivery volunteers. 

By David Baugher, Special to the Jewish Light

From a seventh-grade philanthropic entrepreneur to a 90-year-old High Holiday service leader, this year’s Unsung Heroes lineup has someone to fit every flavor of volunteerism as it highlights those whose vital contributions have flown under the radar for too long.

Eight individuals, one couple and one group will be recognized this year as part of the St. Louis Jewish Light initiative begun in 2010 to spotlight people who give generously of their time. 

“People aren’t doing the good things that they are doing just to be honored,” said Jan Baron, one of three co-chairs for the event, along with Milton Movitz and Faith Berger. “They are doing it because they know it is the right thing to do and they get great joy out of it. I know that it is a two-way street. People who give to the community also get benefits themselves because it is such a great feeling to be able to help.”

Baron, herself, was previously honored with the award. She said that often the individuals involved don’t think of themselves as doing anything special. 

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“The people that I called were so surprised and so humble,” she said, referring to this year’s class of Unsung Heroes. “It was so sweet to talk to them because they’d say, ‘Me? Oh, there are so many others that are more deserving of this award.’”

Movitz said he feels that by publicizing the contributions of those who volunteer, it sets an example that others may follow.

“It really incentivizes people to do good things and they don’t have to give money,” he said. “They give of their time and they give of themselves.”

Movitz believes that the Unsung Heroes honor shows it isn’t just the leaders or high-profile people in a community who play important roles.

“It is wonderful to reach out a hand to people who have done wonderful things while not expecting anything in return,” he said.

This year’s honorees

Dr. Marvin Beckerman volunteers in a number of positions in the community, including as President of OACAP (Older Adult Community Action Program), a program of the National Council of Jewish Women-St. Louis Section; Treasurer of the Midwest (formerly American) Jewish Congress; Co-Chair of the Adult Education Committee at Kol Rinah; Chair of the Advisory Board of Citizenship Education Clearing House (CECH), College of Education, University of Missouri-St. Louis; Leader of the Shabbat Services Group’s Kabbalat Shabbat services at Crown Center for Senior Living.  

• At age 90, Toddy Goldman is a 30-year veteran volunteer with Call For Action, first with KMOX Radio and now with Fox 2 KTVI. He has a lengthy history of donating his time to the St. Louis Senior Olympics, the Jewish Community Center and the Jewish Book Festival. He also leads High Holiday services at Delmar Gardens Chesterfield.

• For the past several years, Judy and Dr. Bob Hellman have run the St. Louis Jewish community’s blood drive, an effort they started in order to promote communitywide participation in assisting the Red Cross.

• Ten volunteers give their time to Crown Center for Senior Living’s home meal delivery service which ensures that 22 homebound seniors in the area can receive a hot kosher meal five days a week. The 10 volunteers are Shawn Rimerman; Allan and Lisa Silverberg; Gloria Spitzer; Marilyn and Saul Dien; Lana Yunker; Lois Lefton; Lauren Sagel; and Larry Harris.

Sanford “Sandy” Jaffe has been active in volunteering for the Alzheimer’s Association, which is now awarding him its Lifetime Giving Award. He was also part of the founding board of directors for Ready Readers and established the Marcia Jaffe Adult Day Care Center at the JCC as well as being a supporter of the Magic House and Talking Tapes.

• Twelve-year-old Sam Klein, a student at Parkway Northeast Middle School, is CEO and President of InkCycle, which collects inkjets, laser toners, iPods, cell phones, tablets and laptops from local businesses, then ships them to manufacturers out of state. So far, he’s made more than $1,500, which he’s donated to charities such as the Ronald McDonald House and the Red Cross.

• Retiree and leukemia survivor Kathy Lebedun, a member of United Hebrew’s mitzvah committee, has done everything from making shiva calls to doing nursing home visits. She has also been part of the board of directors for the Fleisher Jewish Healing Center and a volunteer for the Red Cross and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, where she has done work for nearly two decades.

Buddy Lebman was instrumental in the establishment of the Saul Mirowitz Reform Jewish Academy as well as being a part of other Jewish community volunteer work. 

• For the past dozen years, Neil Marglous has served as President of the St. Louis Men’s Group Against Cancer, an organization in which he has participated for more than three and a half decades and is a founder of Jewish Attention to Mental Illness (JAMI). An active volunteer with Temple Israel, he serves as a mentor for four start-up companies and gives time weekly at the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry. He is on the boards of the Jewish Community Center and Camp Rainbow.

Myra Rosenthal has worked tirelessly to make the Garden of Eden Jewish Community Garden a success.  The garden has provided over 100 lbs. of fresh vegetables to the Jewish Food Pantry.  

This year’s honorees will be recognized at an annual program and dessert reception at 7 p.m. May 21 at the JCC Performing Arts Center. The cost is $18 a person. For more information or to make reservations, call 314-743-3660 or go to stljewishlight.com/unsungrsvp.

Dr. Marvin Beckerman volunteers in a number of positions in the community, including as President of OACAP (Older Adult Community Action Program), a program of the National Council of Jewish Women-St. Louis Section; Treasurer of the Midwest (formerly American) Jewish Congress; Co-Chair of the Adult Education Committee at Kol Rinah; Chair of the Advisory Board of Citizenship Education Clearing House (CECH), College of Education, University of Missouri-St. Louis; Leader of the Shabbat Services Group’s Kabbalat Shabbat services at Crown Center for Senior Living.