In Memoriam of a Brave Community Hero

by | Feb 22, 2021 | COVID-19, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion | 0 comments

In 2020, the country lost parents, grandparents, students, and community leaders — too many to name. We are sincerely sorry for your loss if COVID-19 impacted you personally. It is with heavy hearts that we will remember those we love.

Late in 2020, our community lost many brave souls who battled COVID-19. Some noted publicly, most not. We mourn them all.

Slowly and quietly, we also lost one of the brave heroes who share with us her story of living through the Holocaust. Born in Czechoslovakia in the late 1920s, Rene Hammond was a friend to Pinellas Community Foundation. Not long after losing her parents in Auschwitz, she and her sister were sent to a work camp from which they escaped.

Rene Hammond, right, with her sister, brother and parents before WWII.

When she moved to Florida from New York many years later, Rene traveled throughout Tampa Bay telling her personal story. She spoke on television and radio, and she spoke in schools and various houses of worship. Rene spoke not for sympathy, but because she wanted the world to see that she was living proof of the Holocaust.

Some people believe it didn’t happen; I am here to tell you that it did. Rene Hammond

In addition to five children, and many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren, Rene is survived by her sister and brother, also survivors of the Holocaust.

Rene was introduced to Pinellas Community Foundation by Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services, a PCF grant award recipient and manager of the Holocaust Survivor Program for the Tampa Bay area.