Community champion and Galveston native Barbara “B.J.” Herz was named The Daily News’ Citizen of the Year for 2020 during a special event Thursday evening at Sea Star Base Galveston.
The Daily News has bestowed this honor each year since 1988. And, on Wednesday, The Daily News released a glossy magazine featuring the 20 finalists and information about some of the most productive and well-respected residents of Galveston County.
“When they announced my name I was totally shocked,” Herz said. “I feel so blessed to have grown up here. I’ve learned a lot and believe that dreams based on reality really do come true.”
Herz, a retired teacher, fundraiser and member of numerous community organizations, including the Galveston Historical Foundation, Junior League of Galveston County, Holocaust Museum Houston and Libbie’s Place Senior Day Program, to name a few, was selected by an independent selection committee.
“There is something genuinely authentic about someone who genuinely does not wish to invite the spotlight of attention — and B.J. is one of those,” said Leonard Woolsey, president of Southern Newspaper Inc. and publisher of The Daily News. “She, much like her original calling as a teacher of children, is motivated by a selfless service to others. And that, at least in my eyes, illustrates the very best of Galveston County.”
In addition to serving on numerous boards and organizations, Herz also was a founding member of The Ronald McDonald House, the city of Galveston Families, Children and Youth Board, and Better Parks for Galveston.
Herz was nominated by Alice Kent, who in her nominating letter said Herz’s best quality, among others, is how humble and modest she is in her giving.
“She quietly supports so many organizations on and off the island and her list of accomplishments just goes on and on,” Kent said. “She’s a fierce advocate in our community who absolutely deserves this award.”
Volunteering and the desire to help those in need is what drives her to keep going, Herz said.
“Community involvement has remained my primary focus with the incredible support of my family, friends, total strangers and faith,” Herz said. “Fortunately for my family, we live in one of the most generous of cities where common problems are discussed and common-sense solutions are possible. Whether it’s helping families, youth and children to have a voice or providing quality recreation experiences in our city parks, I want to help wherever there’s a need.”