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October 20, 2017  RSS feed
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Lightning honor Holocaust survivor advocate

(L-R) Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, Community hero Carl Glassberg and team owner Jeff Vinik. (L-R) Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, Community hero Carl Glassberg and team owner Jeff Vinik. On his first date with Irene Berger, the woman who would become his wife of 61 years, Carl Glassberg learned that Irene had evaded death at the hands of Nazis twice, and from the day he heard her story, he committed himself to making life better for Holocaust survivors

For his work on behalf of Holocaust survivors, Glassberg was honored as the Lightning Community Hero on Monday, Oct. 9, at the Tampa Bay Lightning’s second home game. He directed his $50,000 award from the Lightning and Vinik Family Foundation to the Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services Holocaust Survivor Program, which serves the whole Tampa Bay area.

Since 2011, the Lightning have given more than $13.75 million to more than 300 different charities through the Community Hero program.

Glassberg, who was the 273rd “hero,” said he was “overwhelmed” by the generosity of the Lightning organization and enjoyed getting his picture taken with Jeff Vinik and Steven Stamkos and receiving a Lightning jersey even though it was too big.

Carl and Irene Glassberg,1970 Carl and Irene Glassberg,1970 A retired accounting executive, Glassberg will be honored again as Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services Community Volunteer of the year on Thursday, Nov. 9 at Faces, the social service agency’s annual fundraiser gala. His generosity and his oversight of the agency’s Holocaust Survivor Program will be recognized alongside others who have overcome hardships with the help of Gulf Coast programs.

Glassberg was born in 1930 and grew up in Manchester, NH. His grandparents owned a furniture manufacturing business where his father worked as sales manager. Glassberg studied mathematics and economics at Dartmouth and continued with graduate studies in accounting at the Tuck School of Business. He earned a law degree from Fordham University and qualified as a Certified Public Accountant. That led to a partnership at Peat, Marwick and Mitchell, a prestigious accounting firm headquartered in New York. He served five years on the executive committee of the tax division of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

But he found his real life’s passion– helping those who survived the Holocaust – and the love of his life, Irene, when they met in 1952 and he heard her life story:

Irene Berger was born in Lodz, Poland, in 1930. At the age of 9, Irene and her mother were transported to Auschwitz by train. A faulty mechanism in the gas chamber prevented the Nazis from executing Irene, her mother and 1,000 other women. Instead, they were forced into slave labor. In 1945, Irene was sent to the Mauthausen death camp in Austria. Once again, Nazi plans to exterminate the prisoners were foiled when Gen. George Patton liberated the camp on the last day of the war.

“She somehow managed to be a social butterfly,” said Glassberg. “She played tennis, she’d do things. She was not a typical survivor. She would speak to other survivors and always wanted to help them.”

The Glassbergs first found out about Gulf Coast’s program 20 years ago when Irene expressed an interest in meeting other survivors. Those who have survived the Holocaust often find reassurance by spending time with others who went through similar experiences. Interaction among survivors enhances their quality of life and provides the emotional strength necessary to stay positive.

Irene joined one of the Chavurah groups and Carl quickly was tapped to serve on Gulf Coast’s Holocaust Survivor Program Advisory Committee. In addition to socialization, the Holocaust Survivor Program offers assistance with victim restitution, homecare so survivors can remain in their own homes as long as possible, and emergency funds for low-income clients to help cover costs of medicine, food, transportation and other essential services.

Upon Irene’s passing three years ago, the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. honored her contributions to survivors over the years.

For his part, Carl remains a member of Holocaust Survivor Program Advisory Committee among his many volunteer efforts through the years to make life better for Holocaust survivors, whether helping them with their income tax calculations or volunteering at the Florida Holocaust Museum. He recently assisted in raising funds that helped meet the needs of 60 Holocaust survivors who live on income considered below poverty level. With this funding, Gulf Coast JFCS could provide hearing aids, glasses, emergency medical and pharmacy expenses, and dental care for the survivors.

To Glassberg, the best part of receiving the Lightning Hero award was bringing more awareness to the fact a lot of survivors remain and require financial support.

He never misses an opportunity to point out the need for funds. “As Holocaust survivors age, their needs grow and expenses increase. Our goal is to make sure survivors live out their lives in peace and with dignity. Never again should they worry about their next meal.”

“Carl’s example benefits us all,” said said Dr. Sandra Braham, Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Comunity Services CEO. “He inspires us with his selflessness, motivates us with his enthusiasm, and holds us accountable with his high standards.”

The Faces gala will be held at the Hilton St. Petersburg Carillon Park, on Nov. 9, beginning at 6 p.m. with a welcome reception followed by dinner and the program honoring Glassberg and three other program beneficiaries.

For more information and to RSVP, go to

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