Sandi and Tom Hedrick
For Holocaust Museum Houston docent and volunteer leader Sandi Hedrick, the lessons of the Holocaust begin with a simple button. On every tour she leads, she hands out buttons of different colors, shapes and sizes to each individual in her group. "Buttons are all unique," she explains. "But they do have one thing in common. They hold things together that need holding together, by connecting one side to the other. The button represents us: we know we may all be different, yet each of us makes a positive impact by connecting with others every day."
Sandi, a former English teacher, and her husband Tom, a long-time radiologist with Methodist Hospital, are committed to the importance of education, "which made us who we are and enabled us to accomplish so much in our lives," she explains. Native Houstonians who grew up a stone's throw from their current high-rise home, they are active members of St. Anne Catholic Church and long-time supporters of all the schools they and their two children have attended.
In the early days of the Museum, Sandi, then a middle school teacher, had to convince her principal that it was "safe" to take eighth graders to visit the exhibits and learn about the history of the Holocaust. She and her history colleague ultimately developed a curriculum to accompany their tours, "because we immediately knew, this place was important."
After retiring, Sandi was anxious to put her teaching talent to use, and answered an ad for a Museum docent. "It was a match made in heaven," she recalls. Today, she conducts weekday tours for middle and high school students, three to four times a month. "The message behind the Holocaust transcends all cultural ties; it's about moral choices," she proclaims. "Regardless of who you were at that time in history – a perpetrator, a victim, a rescuer or simply a bystander, you were making moral choices. I emphasize standing up for what's right, no matter what. How we treat each other – particularly those of different faiths and political beliefs – that is the lesson we must take away." Her countless thank-you notes attest to Sandi's commitment to pass on and teach what matters most about hope and humanity.
"Because of Sandi's experience, it has been easy and natural for us to consider HMH as one of our philanthropic initiatives," explains Tom. "For us, it has to be personal, an extension of who we are and what we do. We have been fortunate to receive so much, and it is critical to give back, both in time and resources. The Legacy Program, which Sandi helps lead, is so important in perpetuating the Museum's existence and our ability to continue educating future generations." In addition to their valuable support, the Hedricks were helpful in bringing the Tom Dugan play, "Wiesenthal: The Play," from off-Broadway to Houston.
"We just want to make sure that kids get to visit the Museum, hear our presentation and see us," adds Sandi. "And in turn, we hope our children and grandchildren learn and appreciate the lessons of history and giving back, which is so meaningful and important at this point in our lives. HMH is a place where it's easy to put our hearts and souls into making a gift that lasts a lifetime; it teaches the most powerful lessons in life: Find the good in everyone and treat them with respect."