Pamela Gunther and Ellen Hunter have been named co-recipients of the Evely Laser Shlensky Tikkun Olam Award for Excellence in Community Service, Rabbi Stephen Cohen of Congregation B’nai B’rith recently announced.
The Shlensky Award will be presented the evening of Friday, April 26 during the Temple’s Social Action Shabbat.
The duo will be honored for coordinating an extraordinarily successful fundraising campaign to build The Ubumwe Preschool in Gisenyi, Rwanda.
The campaign has raised more than $120,000 to date, including donations from Temple members, Santa Barbara community organizations and individual donors from across the country.
The Ubumwe Preschool opened its doors to more than 100 children in January, many of whom suffer from disabilities.
Gunther, a vocational counselor who works with disabled adults, first became involved with the project in 2010, while serving as chair of the Global Justice Committee at CBB. After hearing a survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide share his story, she was struck by the similarities to Holocaust stories. Gunther grew up in the South and witnessed hatred firsthand, learning to practice compassion and forgiveness instead.
Hunter is a passionate local elementary school teacher who lived and taught abroad before settling in Santa Barbara in 2009. A devoted wife and mother of three, Hunter has given countless hours holding focus on the singular goal of seeing the preschool open. Her role as fundraising co-chair and religious school teacher ensured the involvement of CBB’s youth.
“Inzu Y’Abana” (House of Children) Preschool, aka Ubumwe Preschool, officially opened in January. The name is inspired by CBB’s preschool, “Beit HaYeladim” or House of Children in Hebrew. The relationship will continue between the preschools via internet and Skype.
Visitors from CBB are traveling to Gisenyi this month. CBB has committed to fundraise $5,000 annually for ongoing support.
For more information about The Ubumwe Preschool Project and Social Action Shabbat please contact Elizabeth Gaynes as the contact person at CBB email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Jennifer Goddard is a publicist representing Congregation B’nai B’rith.