Artful giving

By Laura Moretz

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — For Lynn Brenner Eisenberg, philanthropy is about building bridges between people.

She helped launch a program that brings student artists from the N.C. School of the Arts to Brenner Children’s Hospital in Winston-Salem.

She is helping to create another program at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center that brings art therapy to adult cancer patients.

For decades, she has befriended students at the School of the Arts and invited them to her Winston-Salem home.

From 1996 to 2003, she and her husband, Barry, co-chaired the school’s Giannini Society, an organization for donors.

For her long and fruitful association with the N.C. School of the Arts, and her support of other Winston-Salem institutions, the school in May awarded her an honorary doctorate.

“Lynn Eisenberg gives herself totally to the community at large,” says Wade Hobgood, outgoing chancellor of the School of the Arts. “We should all admire her incomparable spirit and unflagging commitment to making the world a better place. She is a true philanthropist in the broadest sense of the word.”

One of her particular gifts is finding ways for institutions and people to work together.

Bringing together arts and medical institutions is a natural fit for Eisenberg.

The Brenner family founded an adolescent medical center in 1981 and Brenner Children’s Hospital in 1986.

She models her giving after that of her father, Morris Brenner, and his two brothers, Abe and Herb, who learned from their mother, Jennie Brenner, to put money in “pushkies,” or charity boxes, even during challenging economic times.

                 Lynn Brenner Eisenberg

Job: Philanthropist; board member, N.C. School of the Arts, Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, Brenner Foundation, Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Coalition of North Carolina, Winston-Salem Foundation, Summit School, Amarr Company.

Education: B.S., education, University of Tennessee, 1968.

Born: Winston-Salem, 1946

Family: husband, Barry Eisenberg, married daughter and son; two grandchildren.

Hobbies: Playing with grandchildren, arranging flowers, reading, bridge.

Favorite flower: rose

Book to recommend: Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini; The Greater Good, by Claire Gaudiani.

As the brothers grew up and built profitable businesses, they always followed their mother’s example by giving back to the community.

Eisenberg says she is simply following their lead.

“My Jewish religion teaches me that my purpose in life is to make this world a better place,” she says. “My goal is to make a difference along the way.”

In 1998, Eisenberg helped launch the Artists Reaching Children in the Hospital, a program that brings student artists from the School of the Arts to Brenner Children’s Hospital.

She and her sister, Suzy Kurtz, helped launch the program in memory of their mother, Gertrude Petock Brenner, who envisioned a program that would give children a chance to smile during their often-grueling hospital stays.

Through the program, arts students perform and interact with patients at the children’s hospital.

Richard “Dikki” Ellis, an alumnus of the school and charter member of the Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit, comes to Winston-Salem three times a year and trains drama students in circus arts. The students then perform for and teach the hospitalized children.

“This definitely enhances their quality of life,” Eisenberg says, and it gives the drama students a chance to see how their performances can work for good in others’ lives.

Now Eisenberg is involved, through work on a committee, in creating another arts program for hospitalized patients. This program, launched at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center this year, brings art therapy experiences to adult cancer patients.

Eisenberg serves on the boards of directors for Summit School, the Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, The Brenner Foundation, the Amarr Co., the Winston-Salem Foundation, and the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Coalition of North Carolina.

She volunteers at Temple Emanuel, her synagogue, and with United Jewish Communities.

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