By Sean Shapiro
Special to the TJP
The Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance presented one of its most prestigious honors last week at its annual Chairman’s Reception.
For the second straight year the organization presented the Cardinal Kevin J. Farrell Upstander Award, given each year to the individual or organization whose actions have modeled or inspired Upstander behavior. It’s one of the highest honors the museum can give, and it’s presented to those who advance human rights and combat prejudice, hatred and indifference.
The Texas-based grocery company H-E-B was the perfect fit after its efforts to provide relief in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
One of the costliest natural disasters in American history, Hurricane Harvey hit Texas hard in August and September, and the impacts are still being felt as we head into 2018.
H-E-B did its best to hit back.
One day after the hurricane made landfall in Rockport, on Aug. 25, H-E-B had already mobilized its convoy of disaster relief trucks. There was a team of H-E-B volunteers delivering cases of water, bags of ice and more than 2,500 meals per hour.
It was a needed lifeline for some people that lost everything.
Days later H-E-B made a financial impact when it donated $5 million dollars to Houston Texans football player J.J. Watt’s relief fun. The money came directly from Charles Butt, H-E-B’s chairman and CEO, and helped Watt raise more than $37 million for the city.
So when it was time to present its annual Upstander award, the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance had an easy choice.
“Charles Butt’s generosity was inspiring, but so too were his words,” Museum Board Chair Florence Shapiro said. “Following the hurricane, Charles made this insightful observation: ‘Hurricane Harvey has taken a catastrophic toll on my great state; now is the time to come together, and collectively help rebuild our communities.’ Such a profound and powerful statement by an amazing individual, and his company, H-E-B, did just that. They heeded his words and followed suit with generosity beyond words.”
Because of a recent loss in their family, the Butt family was unable to accept the award in person. But Mabrie Jackson, the director of public relations for H-E-B and Central Market, stepped up and accepted the award on their behalf.
“We try to fly under the radar at H-E-B,” Jackson said. “We are so honored to have this recognition for our recent hurricane relief efforts.”
Jackson said the award holds special meaning for both its namesake, Cardinal Farrell, who now works in the Vatican and was the former Bishop of Dallas, and the message the Holocaust Museum shares.
“The spirit of giving is alive and well at H-E-B every single day,” Jackson said. “It’s a top-down service organization that just happens to sell groceries. We are so inspired by this gracious family that we work for.”
Jackson made sure to share individual stories of company employees that went above and beyond. One man in Houston walked through miles of water, much of it chest-high, to get to his local H-E-B to stock groceries. When asked about it, he simply said, “My community, my people have to eat.”
Overall it’s been a big year for the museum, and Shapiro shared several of the highlights with those in attendance.
The museum made strides to make better connections with the families of Holocaust survivors, hosted an Upstander series, raised and surpassed financial goals quickly, and broke ground Oct. 10 on its new museum that will open in 2019 at 300 N. Houston St.
The new location will allow the museum to double its visitors, including a 250-seat theater, pair of classrooms, library, archives and memorial.
“Today we have more than 1,300 members,” Shapiro said. “Double the amount of members we had three years ago.”
The museum has also created partnership with 16 local businesses in the past year, increasing money raised by more than 200 percent, and there was a more than 350 percent increase in grant funding for educational programs.
“Finally, we are on target to finish 2017 with more than 85,000 visitors,” Shapiro said. “That is a new record for our small museum.”
It was a pretty good year, and capping it off by recognizing the second Cardinal Kevin J. Farrell Upstander Award winner was a nice exclamation point.