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Derek Dixon, a Senior at Indiana University- Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), is the 2013 recipient of the John Weidner Rotary Altruism Award.
Unanimously selected from 77 applicants, Dixon is majoring in Philanthropic Studies. He was a Board member of the IUPUI Programming Board focusing on diversity as well as a Board member for the Indiana Student Staff. In addition, Dixon was a team leader for a Habitat Humanity trip to Kentucky, a volunteer with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, a volunteer and Team Leader with the Andy Project, a homeless initiative, and he taught classes for the Indy Urban Acres- an organic farm which donates 100% of its harvest to food banks. Dixon also tutored in Math and English.
In announcing the award, Weidner Foundation Board Member Bill Ervin noted “Scripture says that good works are hollow unless done in love. The selectors found it obvious that Derek had the love. All agreed that if they were in need of help, they would call Derek. There is also in Scripture a succinct description of Derek’s character- in addition to love, there is peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. These are called Fuits of the Spirit. Derek has the spirit.”
A senior education major and a junior in the Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies program are the winners of the 2013 John Weidner awards for altruism. Ryan Ward was awarded the $1,500 Rotary John Weidner Award for Altruism. Colleen Quilty received the $1,200 Butler John Weidner Endowed Scholarship for Altruism.
Ward, a senior in the College of Education, has participated in the Adopt a School Foundation, has been a tutor at the Indianapolis Metropolitan High School and Little League Coach at Westfield Intermediate School, and was a counselor at a camp for special needs youth.
Education Professor Arthur Hochman, Ward’s program coordinator in elementary education, said there aren’t many males in elementary education. Those who are have either fallen into it by default or are drawn to it out of a deep sense of calling.
“Ryan is definitely in the latter category,” Hochman said. “This has been clearly evidenced by the time and energy he puts into his work with the children and teachers, beyond what is required. Ryan is always working to be his best and to serve others first, beyond any grade or assignment. Ryan does not wait to serve. He isn’t one to rush away from the school or the child when the class has ended or the requirement fulfilled, nor does he run from the challenging children. I believe this truly captures what this scholarship is aiming for.”
Quilty began her service to the community as a freshman by participating in the weeklong program for incoming freshmen, Ambassadors of Change. She was a student volunteer with Unite Here, and was instrumental in attempting to win better benefits for workers at the Hyatt Hotel in Indianapolis. She also was an integral part of the effort to organize Butler Aramark workers in a union.
Quilty is past president of Demia, Butler’s feminist student organization. In that capacity, she sponsored and planned events for a women’s shelter in Indianapolis, Planned Parenthood, Unite Here and the 51% Club.
She describes her service minded philosophy as part of being a family of teachers who wanted to have an impact on the next generation. She believes that her experience working and building community in Indianapolis through labor and justice equality efforts has forever changed her life and will result in making this world and our communities a more equal and loving place.
The Weidner awards recognize the students’ efforts to embody the spirit of Weidner, a Dutch citizen who helped more than 1,000 people escape from the Nazis during World War II.
In April 2006 the Butler University Student Sociology Association (SSA) founded the first collegiate chapter of the national John Henry Weidner Foundation for Altruism under the guidance of Butler adjunct professor William C. Ervin, faculty representative to the SSA and a board member of the Weidner Foundation. The chapter’s purpose is to stimulate interest in altruistic service both on campus and in the community. The chapter is sponsored by Butler’s SSA because altruism is an important component of sociology studies and field work.
Marc Allan, Butler University
A TIME TO TIME NEWSLETTER OF THE JOHN WEIDNER FOUNDATION
Dedicated to the promotion of Altruism and Moral Courage and standing as another witness to the reality of the Holocaust
2nd Edition AUGUST 9, 2012
Frank Mazzaglia, Editor in Chief,
Kevin O’Rourke, Managing Editor
ONE FAMILY’S HOLOCAUST STORY
By Frank Mazzaglia
When the German Luftwaffe bombed the helpless population of Belgium on May 10, 1940, hundreds of thousands of dazed and bewildered refugees crowded the roads to reach England and safety. However, German paratroopers and glider-borne special forces moved quickly. They seized key bridges and blocked any hope for escape. So, the refugees turned themselves around and walked back home.
For the Chapnik family, home was next to the majestic gothic Saint Waudry’s collegiate church in Mons. Charles and Jeanne Chapnik and their five children Simone, Anna, Jacques, Louis and Maurice were Jewish. As it happened though, the location of that house next to the largest Catholic church in Mons may have played a part in their survival.
Maurice Chapnik now lives in Natick and although years have passed since those dark days, his story is worth remembering. Maurice was only seven years old and in the second grade of the public school when the Nazis occupied Mons. Because the school stood next to a railroad track, however, it was often bombed and the children were sent off to a nearby Catholic school until the building was repaired.
Even before the occupation, children used the courtyard next to Saint Waudry’s as a playground and frequently raced up and down the aisles of the huge church. Nobody seemed to mind. Maurice, of course, joined in with the other kids. He observed them dipping their hands into the holy water and making the sign of the cross. Soon he learned how to do it himself. As a child, he listened to Catholic prayers so often that they became familiar to him. Moreover, he loved watching the weekly religious processions before Sunday services. People got used to him being there whenever they were. In other words, Maurice blended in.
His father, Charles, earned his living as a tailor who spoke German as well as French. In fact, it was not unusual for German soldiers to come into his shop to have their uniforms tailored. The income from the shop plus a small patch of land where they grew potatoes helped the family get by.
All of that, though, was before 1942 when the Nazis began to deport Jews in earnest. Jews were instructed to register at city hall where they would be issued yellow stars to wear on their clothing. A family friend, however, advised Mr. Chapnik not to register. Nonetheless, a night never passed without fearing the real possibility of the Gestapo knocking at the door. Still, despite the almost nightly roundups nobody denounced the Chapniks to the Gestapo.
Then one day, a well dressed German officer entered the school and announced that all Jewish students should register at the principal’s office. Being a good boy who had been taught never to lie, young Maurice signed his name to the list that very morning. However, when he told his older brother what he had done, Jackes quickly informed their father who immediately rushed to the principal’s home. The principal, a member of the underground, erased Maurice’s name from the list and danger passed over them once again.
History records that the German occupation was particularly harsh. The black market thrived and the bare necessities of life were scarce. Nevertheless the Chapniks survived. Acting over the anxious concerns of his parents, however, seventeen year old Jacques joined the resistance. Sadly he was later arrested, sent to a concentration camp and never heard from again.
Liberation came on August 25th when the 3rd Army Division cut off 40,000 Nazis and captured 8,000 prisoners in Mons. Maurice smiles as he remembers making up for lost time as American soldiers lavished the children with candy and chocolates. Simone became a war bride and soon thereafter the family joined their daughter in the United States. Maurice was drafted during the Korean conflict and became an American citizen while serving in the army. He remains active in the Metro West Jewish War Veterans.
In every dark time in our history, certain selfless, conscientious individuals have emerged to put their lives at risk for those in great need. These individuals often go unnoticed as they do not seek the spotlight. They feel that they are only doing what is right. These individuals appear today in Burma, Iran, the Sudan, China and other areas where basic human rights are at risk.
The John Henry Weidner Foundation seeks to identify, support and emulate the behavior of these quiet altruists who brighten the darkest periods of history and darkest corners of the planet to speak for the voiceless, even at the risk of losing their lives.
The Weidner Foundation was established in 1996 by John Weidner’‘s wife Naomi to commemorate the lives of those people with whom he heroically worked as well as those for whom he courageously provided solace, refuge, and safety during the Holocaust of World War II and thereafter.
Mr. Weidner gave the Weidner Center his personal letters and effects, intending them to illustrate and encourage a life of human compassion, encouraging Foundation leadership to use them as potential models and teaching tools toward promulgating selfless, independent, non-institutionalized behavior that ensures the dignity and safety of others.
It was the intention of the Weidners that the extensive collection of letters and documents related to the Dutch-Paris Escape Line be made available to college and university students, community researchers and scholars world-wide.
The Foundation operates The John Henry Weidner Center for Cultivation of the Altruistic Spirit, which generates creative activities that discover, investigate, and encourage pro-action of the sort that Weidner practiced and believed in during his life. The Board of Trustees is a diverse group of men and women who represent the various constituencies John Weidner helped, worked with and believed in to maintain his vision for a community of pro-active, independent thinkers and doers.