Recognized as caring people in a world crying out for love, Jon M. and Karen Huntsman were honored Thursday as recipients of the annual Brotherhood and Sisterhood Awards.
"Our honorees are doing so much in bringing this global community closer together," said Wendell J. Ashton, banquet chairman for the National Conference of Christians and Jews annual award dinner in Salt Lake's Little America Hotel.The Utah chapter of the NCCJ - a national, non-sectarian organization established to educate and fight against bigotry and discrimination - honored the Huntsmans for their numerous contributions and service to the community.
"It's wonderful what this group is trying to accomplish throughout the world," said Karen Huntsman in receiving the award. She said she was recently asked when she and her husband first began giving to charities and other community needs.
She recalled the first paycheck, consisting of $312, they received after they were married. Money was taken out for tithing to their church, rent, utilities and her husband took out about $50 for an unknown purpose. She later discovered that he had been anonymously helping a neighbor family who was struggling financially.
"We didn't have much money then, but Jon taught me no matter how much you have and what you're doing in life, there is always someone out there you can help," she said.
Jon Huntsman, chairman and chief executive officer of Huntsman Chemical, was also praised for his efforts to assimilate culture and understanding into his chemical plants soon to be located throughout the world in countries such as the Soviet Union, China, Thailand, Germany and India.
Jon Huntsman lauded the work of homeless and Catholic Charity organizations that he has helped, but also praised the ideals of Buddhists in Thailand. He said he recently met with the king of Thailand and was impressed with his desire for world understanding and harmony.
"The king's concerns are really no different than yours and mine," he said, adding that he will soon be going to Russia to help break ground for a hospital in Armenia, where thousands were killed in a devastating earthquake.
"Although the people there are atheistic . . . they are still children of God," he said. "Any man or woman who suffers death from flood or war does in fact diminish all of us."
Rabbi Joseph Hurwitz of Temple Isaiah, Palm Springs, Calif., was keynote speaker at the banquet. He decried America's rising divorce rate, pointing to changing roles of the family, work, leisure, women, religion, education, discipline and lifestyle as reasons for the many divorces and called for a return to "old-fashioned types of family relationships.
"As religious leaders, we have to show America how to return to those old values," he said. "We who have that traditional background . . . we have to fill this world with light."