By Patti Samar
The key to life is education.
No one knows this better than Port Huron-based dentist Randa Jundi-Samman, D.M.D.
Jundi-Samman, a native of Damascus, Syria, understood from a very young age that education could carry a person out of the dark, abysmal crevice of poverty.
“Coming from a Third World country, I know that education is the only way out in life,” said Jundi-Samman. “You don’t survive in life if you don’t have an education.”
A resident of the Blue Water Area since 1992, Jundi-Samman has dedicated her life here to providing resources and programming to educational institutions in the community through her fundraising, philanthropic, and volunteer efforts with numerous organizations in the community.
As a result of her tireless efforts to champion those issues and more in the Blue Water Area, Jundi-Samman has been named the Blue Water Woman of the Year. She was nominated by Sushma Reddy, M.D., the 2016 Blue Water Woman of the Year.
In her nomination, Dr. Reddy noted:
“Randa is an amazing woman who inspires others to follow her cause, improving the lives of children and making our community a better place to live, work and play. In addition to her professional practice as a dentist, she is actively involved with various organizations such as the Blue Water YMCA, the Community Foundation of St. Clair County, and the Port Huron Schools.”
Jundi-Samman’s involvement with the Port Huron Schools began when her two children, now grown, were in school.
“I was a PTA mom and I was a president of the PTA,” she said. “We realized that the schools do not offer physical activities the way we would like them to be, so we involved our kids in tennis and gymnastics outside of school. But, we realized that other families didn’t necessarily have the means to do that. I wanted to offer recreational opportunities for other kids.”
That led Jundi-Samman to develop the Fun Fitness program in all elementary schools within the Port Huron Schools. “It’s been in place for 14 years and it is a program to get the kids moving.”
As she became more involved, Jundi-Samman saw a lack of funding for a wide variety of programs. That led to her involvement in helping to establish the Port Huron Schools Endowment Fund at the Community Foundation of St. Clair County.
To help grow the fund, Jundi-Samman chaired a committee to help turn the annual cross-town rivalry football game between Port Huron High School and Port Huron Northern High School into a fund raising opportunity.
One of her largest community-wide accomplishments came when she campaigned tirelessly for passage of the Port Huron Schools millage that raised money for technology improvements.
“Thankfully, it passed and I almost cry when I go into the schools,” she said. “It’s a fundamental cultural change and a different way of teaching with the technology and the STEAM labs. That could not have been possible without the bond. The bond provided the equipment and resources that they needed. I look at it like, the public schools got my kids to where they are today…
“The better schools you have, the better community you end up having. It drives the growth of the community.”
Jundi-Samman is also extensively involved in the Community Foundation, and currently serves as vice chair of its board of directors. She also serves as the current chair of its Women’s Initiative steering committee.
Her passion for physical fitness led her to serving on the board of directors at the YMCA of the Blue Water Area, where she is currently chair of the board.
“There are a lot of organizations that offer so much, but they need our support,” Jundi-Samman said of her community involvement. “If we can help promote them, it is a win-win. I came to this country as a migrant and I’m thankful for all that has come my way. I want to be helpful to all.
“I’m a full-time dentist, but work doesn’t give you that fulfillment the way that philanthropy does.
“I think it means more to me to donate than the money I give means to the organization. You can sleep better at night knowing you made a difference.”