Diversity Memphis honors Humanitarians of the Year | Community Spirit
Nearly every faith tradition encourages people to love one another. A splendid example of neighborly love took center stage at the 2011 Diversity Memphis Awards dinner. Heartsong Church pastor, Dr. Steve Stone, was honored for inspiring members to roll out the red carpet for the newly relocated Memphis Islamic Center in 2010. The Muslim congregation purchased property directly across from the Christian church. Heartsong welcomed their new neighbors so warmly, the story became a global spectacle of unity and brotherhood. This amazing episode of Memphis diversity in action took place just as a small church in Florida was threatening to burn a copy of the Quran. Dr. Mohamad Bashar A. Shala, leader of the Memphis Islamic Center, was honored as well for accepting Heartsong's welcome and leading his congregation to unite with the Christian flock on many levels of philanthropy, opening hearts and showing the world that Muslims and Christians can live and prosper in unity while at the same time practicing their faith traditions. Both Dr. Stone and Dr. Shala were named Diversity Memphis Humanitarians of the Year.
Another noted Memphis religious leader, Rev. Sanders L. (Sandy) Wilson, senior minister at Second Presbyterian Church, was also honored as a 2011 Humanitarian of the Year by Diversity Memphis. In Memphis, Rev. Wilson co-founded Memphis Center for Urban Theological Studies, co-founded and serves as chair of NEXUS, a leadership mentoring program for emerging adult professional leaders. Wilson also co-founded the Memphis Shalom Project, a unified evangelical church ministry strategy for the city. He also co-founded his congregation's Foundations for Missions and has partnered with ministries in Africa, Asia, South America and the Middle East, keeping a focus on tolerance and brotherhood. Rev. Wilson's reach extends far beyond his iconic church's grounds on Poplar Avenue at Goodlett. He serves on the Gospel Coalition board, the Board of Reference for Union University and Reformed Theological Seminary and the Board of Directors for World Relief.
The Memphis business community had an outstanding representative among the 2011 Diversity Memphis honorees. Rose Jackson Flenorl, a Memphis based global force for good, was named a "Humanitarian of the Year" for her leadership in the community as well as global philanthropy representing FedEx. As Manager of Social Responsibility for the overnight shipping giant, Flenorl has helped deliver aid to victims of floods, drought, and every kind of disaster you can imagine. She has directed corporate resources toward pedestrian and child safety, environmental sustainability, education and diversity. She represents FedEx on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business Civic Leadership Council (BCLC) Board, the American Red Cross Corporate Advisory Council and the Conference Board Contributions Council. As an active leader in the Memphis community, Flenorl serves on the boards of the National Civil Rights Museum, the University of Mississippi Alumni Association and the Accrediting Committee of the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism in Mass Communication. She was the first black female named to the Ole Miss Student Hall of Fame. In 2009, Flenorl was the first African-American elected president of the Ole Miss Alumni Association.
It's a long way to Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee from Warsaw, Poland but the senior honoree at the 2011 Diversity Memphis Awards managed to make that epic journey and change countless lives in the process. At age 18, Bert Bornblum and his brother David managed to emigrate to the United States just as growing anti-Semitism threatened the lives of Jews across Europe. Bornblum arrived in Memphis in 1938, served in the U.S. Army, gained U.S citizenship and earned his GED. He opened his first store---Bert's Men and Boys Clothing---on Beale Street and would open six more locations in Memphis and two in Nashville. Bornblum became the first business owner on Beale Street to hire African Americans for his sales staff. Devoted to education, Bornblum audited philosophy courses at the University of Memphis for 20 years and studied at the International Summer School in Cambridge, England as well. He joined the Southwest Tennessee Foundation Board in 2002 and the library at the community college now bears his name. He established the Bornblum Scholarship Endowment Fund at Southwest. Along with his late brother David, Bert endowed the Bornblum Judaic Studies Center at the University of Memphis. Bornblum has shared his good fortune with the Center for Southern Folklore, Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association, the Exchange Club Family Center and the Women's Foundation of Greater Memphis.
Our colleague at Action News 5, meteorologist Ron Childers, was the sixth Humanitarian of the Year honored by Diversity Memphis in 2011. Far from the camera's unblinking eye, Childers has been an unswerving supporter of countless causes: the Catholic Diocese of West Tennessee, including the Jubilee Schools, Bishop Byrne Middle and High Schools, Memphis Catholic High School, Immaculate Conception Grade School, Catholic Charities, Baptist Trinity Hospice, Camp Good Grief, FedEx Pilots' Wives Association fund raisers for Ronald McDonald House and FedEx House, United Way of the Mid-South, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, City Beautiful, the April 4th Foundation, Catholic Campus Ministries, DeNeuville Learning Center, Mid-South Minority Business Association, the Mid-South Food Bank, the Assisi Foundation's Storm Ready Program, the Mid-South Chapter of the American Red Cross, Memphis in May International Festival and the Memphis Zoo. Ron's mother Fran introduced her son and sparked a moment of levity when she revealed in Ron's younger life, "he didn't know anything about the weather." The Memphis forecaster changed that by earning a degree in meteorology from Mississippi State University and becoming one of the region's most authoritative and trusted weather experts.