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Carroll Choir students advance, All-State contest

It's a noteworthy year for Carroll Choir in the Carroll ISD, where a record number of singers are preparing for the second round of the most intense singing competition of the school year. Saturday, 30 students will audition at the Region round of the TMEA All-State competition at Colleyville Heritage High School in Colleyville. Students who compete Saturday have already advanced past the District round for a place in the Region Choirs.

Saturday's competition consists of performing parts of four different classical pieces, including selections in foreign languages. The singers will not know which sections of the music they will perform until they arrive at the competition. 

For these competitors it's a long process that started in June, when they were given the music. Most students spend the summer mastering ten classical selections that are part of the competitions that carry on throughout fall and winter. Several thousand singers from across Texas compete for a few hundred spots in the prestigious All-State Choir, which is chosen early next year.

Carroll Choir is under the direction of Paul Doucet and Evan Ramos

For more information on Carroll Choir visit:

Congratulations to the following Carroll singers for advancing: Sarah Kate Breeding, Reilly Buckley, Miranda Campin, Emma Cave, Joy Choo, Rachel Connell, Michelle D'Amico, Caitlin Davidson, Devan DeLugo, Rachel Gitter, Braden Hall, Christian Hein, Lauren Hendricksen, Kinley Hicks, Bill Kahn, Ryan Kelson, Taylor Legan, Channing Lester, Katherine Loomis, Amber Meagher, Will Meagher, Daniel Morrison, Aubrey Parr, Sebastian Poorman, Abigail Thomas, Bella Tran, James Wade, Garrett Walsh, and Molly Warden.





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Susan Hulet

Community Conversation with Dawn Tongish: Meet Susan Hulet, executive director of Mercy House Ministries a nonprofit organization based in Colleyville, dedicated to helping single, pregnant women in need of housing, counseling and childbirth services. Hulet is a veteran midwife who has delivered more than 650 babies and also the wife of a pastor. For Hulet, founding Mercy House in 1998 was like seeing a dream come true. Hulet combined her passion for helping women and children, under the roof of a Christian maternity home.

Under Hulet's guidance, the women selected to be part of the program get the medical care they need and proper parenting and educational skills, to support a growing family. We wanted to know more about this mission and Hulet was kind enough to answer a few questions:

Dawn Tongish: Can you begin by telling us about Mercy House Ministries? 

Susan Hulet: Mercy House is a residential program for single pregnant women who find themselves homeless or in a situation of duress. We provide housing, counseling, childbirth services with midwives, life skills training, parenting education and Christian discipleship. Our goal is to help a woman facing pregnancy alone remove every obstacle to success and also build for a healthy and successful future. When we impact a woman’s life we are really changing the future for two lives, and ultimately for a generation to come.  

DT: What are your duties at Mercy House Ministries?  

SH: As the executive director my primary duty is to assure the ministry’s sustainability and success.  This comes in the form of networking with our community, “friend” raising (the new term for fundraising), and working to raise awareness of the need and our ministry’s work to meet that need.  My responsibilities also include oversight and training of staff, program planning and management, and working with the board of directors to assure compliance with law and to advise on the use and disbursement of funds.   

DT: Why did you found the organization, and why is this mission so close to your heart?

SH: In the early 1990’s I was moved in a personal devotional time to reach out to single women facing pregnancy alone but with no support. As a midwife I had begun working with a number of single pregnant women, walking with them through their deep hurt and abandonment as well as their insecurity about the future. As a pastor’s wife I was motivated to have a deeper reach into these women’s lives than just getting a baby here safely. I knew the loss of the relationship that they had put their hopes in could only be filled by the Lord. So my husband and I shared the vision for a residential home to more deeply care for the needs of these women with our church, and in 1997 Mercy House was born. For more detail on the story we have created a video that can be viewed at

I think this mission is so close to my heart because of my own journey as a mother. Although I did not go through a pregnancy alone, I have a heart for families and particularly for women to believe that with God’s help they can succeed. In 1989 I began my 20 year journey as a midwife and was able to assist about 650 women with the births of their babies. In that time I grew to appreciate the process of birth, the strength of women through that process and how profoundly birth displays the miracle of life that God has given us. 

DT: There are other organizations that provide help for those seeking adoption services, but Mercy House is unique in that it provides parenting skills. Can you elaborate? 

SH: We absolutely celebrate and believe in the beautiful process that adoption gives to a birth mother and to adoptive parents in providing a life giving option to an unplanned pregnancy.  We have had several adoptions through our ministry for which we are so grateful to God. In our journey we have come to recognize that our society’s culture has changed and there are a great many women choosing to parent. While there are many adoption programs available, there are very few parenting programs that take a systematic approach to teaching parenting skills. We feel called to prepare the mothers choosing to parent in the most thorough way possible. We have a ten week curriculum for pregnancy and parenting that our residents work on each day. It includes hands on classes such as car seat safety and infant CPR. At the end of the class work, each woman receives a baby shower that provides everything she will need to care for her baby.  This includes her layette, crib and mattress, stroller, pack and play and personal gifts as well.  Any parent out there knows that so much is learned in the process of parenting and classes are not all we need to be good parents. But we believe that people who know better do better, so we want to help bring that knowledge for the best start possible.

DT: Single women must apply and be selected for the program. There is also a great deal of life skills and educational/job skills that are taught. Why did you decide to include that in the program? 

SH: Many of the women we serve have lived in the cycle of poverty, loss and abuse. We want to help them see the future in a different way. By teaching life skills and providing educational opportunities we hope to raise their vision to healthy, productive living that does not rely on the goodwill of others for the rest of their lives. Self-sufficient, healthy living is the goal we encourage each woman to reach for.

DT: It can be difficult for nonprofit organizations to stay afloat. How can the citizens of Tarrant County help your organization? What are your needs? 

SH: Any truthful nonprofit leader will say that financial support is the greatest need we face! I will add the “amen” to that and say that we also treasure partners that can volunteer. We have many opportunities to serve, through mentoring, driving assistance, and special skills assistance. We especially need monthly donors who will commit to longer term support by giving systematically. We also deeply appreciate onetime donations as well.  To give or volunteer you can visit and click the How to Help button.

DT: Can you describe some of your proudest moments with Mercy House Ministries?

SH: One of my proudest moments was Bridgette. Bridgette’s life was in shambles when she came to us. She had lost her boyfriend in a car accident just prior to discovering she was pregnant.  Her father was incarcerated for drug charges and she was not able to find any support from family.  She made her way to Mercy House but was extremely depressed and ashamed. The church she attended while with us and our volunteers enfolded her with love and acceptance and she gradually began to look up.  She decided to commit her life to Christ and was baptized the same day that her baby was dedicated to the Lord. From the Mercy House program, Bridgette moved on to another housing program in our area and continued her education. Perhaps my most joyful day with Bridgette was about a year later when she married a young man she had met at the church she attended after graduating from our program. They now have 3 beautiful boys and Bridgette’s husband Josiah is in the Army stationed in Arizona.  Theirs and other stories can be seen on our website under the Videos button.

I can honestly say there is no greater joy than to see a woman who comes into our program broken, alone and unsure about her future leave Mercy House with her healthy baby, confident, equipped and surrounded by love and support. It is worth every bit of sacrifice because God is always ready with His love to offer us another chance to pick up the pieces and start again. We all need help at some time in our lives.  When we serve these women, we are His hands extended and nothing but good comes from sowing those kind of seeds into the future. When we help change the life of a single pregnant woman in need we are really changing the future for two lives, and that can truly change a generation. 

Contact Dawn Tongish at or find her on Twitter at @DawnTongish.

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Jan Mitchell

Community Conversation with Dawn Tongish: Meet Jan Mitchell, executive director of the Miss Texas Pageant an all-volunteer, non-profit organization based in Richardson, geared toward providing scholarship opportunities for the young women of Texas. Mitchell is a solid believer in the pageant process as a way for outstanding women to find their voice and promote culture, politics and platforms in the community. Mitchell shrugs off the haters who say "pageants" are all about how a woman looks. She knows better. The Miss Texas contest requires a background of accomplisment, talent and the ability to express a viewpoint.

During her time with the Miss Texas Pageant Mitchell has kept this successfull pageant program on track. We wanted to know more about what makes a beauty queen and Mitchell was happy to answer a few questions about the program:  

Dawn Tongish: Can you tell me about the mission at the Miss Texas Organization?  

Jan Mitchell: Our mission at the Miss Texas Pageant is to provide educational scholarships for the women of Texas and to promote their voices in culture, politics and the community.  We also want to provide a forum for today's young women to express their viewpoints, talents and accomplishments through their participation in the Miss Texas Organization.  

DT: The Miss Texas Organization is known for producing smart, beautiful winners who go on to claim other titles. What is the secret behind the success of the organization? 

JM: I believe the success of our organization is the quality of Texas women!  Also our organization is completely volunteer so everyone involved is here because we believe in the program and we are not receiving anything in return except the honor of volunteering our time for these young women.

DT: How did you become involved with the Miss Texas Organization, and why are you so passionate about the work being done?

JM: 15 years ago I was invited to judge a local pageant.  I had preconceived opinions on pageantry and what I thought it was, but I was completely surprised at what I found.  I saw that the Miss America Organization was so much more than a "beauty pageant".  I met girls who were interested in their education and their community and wanted to do something really special with their lives.  They were strong and accomplished and I was very impressed.

DT: How do you describe the young women who compete in the pageants? Are there special qualities, talents they must possess to be successful?

JM: They must be talented, interested in community service, and wanting to further their education.

DT: How can winning or being a top finisher at the pageant change a young woman's life?  

JM: Just participating as a contestant will change their life.  Each girl will serve in her community and will strive to make good grades and make a difference in the lives of others.  And they all have a platform that they participate in through volunteering.  In the Miss Texas Pageant it's not winner-takes-all.  Each girl who participates receives some form of scholarship assistance.  

DT: Some people still have a negative opinion of beauty pageants. What do you say to the naysayers?  

JM: I understand because before I became involved in the Miss Texas Pageant I had preconceived notions about beauty pageants as well.  I found out that the Miss America Organization is different.  It is full of volunteers working to help young women further their education, express their viewpoints, excel at their talent, and devoting time to community service.  Does that sound like "just" a beauty pageant?  

DT: What is your most memorable moment in your experiences at the Miss Texas Organization? 

JM: My most memorable experience was answering the phone 8 years ago and a young woman named Shilah Phillips asking me if I could help her get scholarship funds for college.  She was on her own and had no money for college.  I met with her and a week later she won my local pageant (Miss Frisco).  A few months later she won the title of Miss Texas.  And then went on to win 1st Runner Up to Miss America. $40,000 later we both knew that the phone call the year before changed both our lives.  

Contact Dawn Tongish at or find her on Twitter at @DawnTongish.

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Karol Wilson
Community Conversation with Dawn Tongish: Meet Karol Wilson, an outspoken advocate for spay/neuter services for pets, who dedicates her time to the Paws Cause organization. For nearly two decades, Wilson has been involved with Paws Cause which raises funds to support the free or low cost spay/neuter clinic offered by the North Texas SPCA.
Each year Paws Cause and its volunteers organize several fundraising events where the monies raised are channeled toward decreasing the number of unwanted pets. We wanted to know more about the mission of Paws Cause and Wilson was kind enough to answer a few questions. 
Dawn Tongish: Please begin by telling us about the mission of Paws Cause.
Karol Wilson:We support the Mary Spencer Spay/Neuter Clinic of the SPCA of Texas in South Dallas where the need is greatest. The Clinic provides free or at low-cost surgeries for thousands of dogs and cats a year. 

DT: What are your duties at Paws Cause? 
KW: I'm an advocate these days. I've been involved for about 19 of our 20-year history. We're an all-volunteer group. Diane Brierley and I co-chaired the event about 10 years ago (may be off by a year or two on that one). It's just a great group of about 75 or so men and women who realize how important the spay/neuter issue is. Plus, we have a ton of fun working together. Our annual event draws around 300 or so a year.
DT: How did you get involved with the organization, and why are you so passionate about the work being done?  
KW: I got involved through my friend Gigi Potter Salley.  She's a community leader, pet lover and well-known Realtor. She's chaired the event and has served as honorary chairman of our signature/singular event. I feel so strongly about Paws Cause just by looking around. You'll see mama dogs and pups roaming around, homeless dogs. Let's solve this problem!
DT: Your organization relies heavily on volunteers whose goal it is to help support the SPCA of Texas' free and/or low cost spay or neuter services. Why are these services so important, and why are some pet owners reluctant to make sure the pet population is controlled? 
KW: You see dogs and cats everywhere who appear homeless. I'm a fairly new resident in the White Rock Lake area and it's amazing how many animals are just dumped there. I am hesitant to say why pet owners are reluctant to spay/neuter their they just not know about the problem, do they think it's someone else's problem to solve?  I think there are probably hundreds of reasons...but people need to realize spay/neuter will solve so many animal issues. 
DT: Your organization helps raise funds for the spay/neuter clinic. How successful are you at continuing to raise critical funding for the SPCA? 
KW: I think being so specific in our mission that people have happily supported us for years. I tend to think that people like the idea of supporting one thing that you can wrap your arms around and Paws Cause just makes sense.  The annual event raises significant funds as the first 150K we raise goes to the Clinic's bottom line and the remaining goes to an endowment fund for the future. Knock on wood, but I don't see us declining in support. Paws Cause just makes good sense and it's a "doggone" fun party. Sure, our chairs work their hearts out on organizing the components of the event...but it's an easy way as a guest to make an important difference for the community and our furry friends. 
DT: How hopeful are you that at some point we can begin to turn the corner on pet overpopulation and avoid the travesty of seeing so many healthy animals euthanized each year? 

KW: I think there has been a change of thinking in Dallas lately and it's been great that city/county leadership have become advocates for animals and the overpopulation issue.  Just recently, our new DA has championed animal issues and wants to have more resources and oversight over their plight. So I think we're on a good path for the future. Plus, I'd point to folks like "Skip" Trimble (Paws Cause's hero), Jonnie England, Mary Spencer and of course James Bias at the SPCA who have been vocal, positive advocates who have made great inroads in the "buy in" to spay/neuter efforts by Dallasites. 
DT: What is the most memorable moment in your experiences at Paws Cause?  
KW: I think just watching the event move to larger venues to become one of the "Big Three" of the SPCA's events is pretty cool. (The other two are Fur Ball and Strut Your Mutt)
Contact Dawn Tongish at or find her on Twitter at @DawnTongish.
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Brandy Schimmel

Community Conversation with Dawn Tongish: Meet Brandy Schimmel, executive director of North Texas SNAP a nonprofit organiziation providing a support network for adults (and their families) living with intellectual disabilities. Schimmel oversees the execution of the mission and expansion of the programs. SNAP serves more than 200 adults throughout North Texas.

Schimmel holds a Bachelors of General Studies from Texas Woman's University and completed her Masters of Management and Public Administration from the University of Phoenix. She has served on SNAP's board since 2012, most recently as vice president. Schimmel knew when she was first introduced to the program in 2008 that it was a positive force in the community that she wanted to help nurture. We wanted to know more about North Texas SNAP and Schimmel was kind enough to answer a few questions: 

Dawn Tongish: Please begin by telling us about North Texas SNAP.    

Brandy Schimmel: In 1999, a group of parents in Northeast Tarrant County were looking for opportunities for their children with intellectual disabilities as they graduated from high school and approached adulthood. They were frustrated by what appeared to be a fragmented social service system. Recognizing a need for more effective support, not only for their sons and daughters, but also for other families in a similar situation, the group began brainstorming ways they could make a difference in the lives of adult individuals living with intellectual disabilities. 

Despite not having any experience in developing and managing a nonprofit organization, this small but courageous group of parents founded North Texas Special Needs Assistance Partners (SNAP), a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization serving individuals 17 and older (and their families) living with intellectual disabilities including: Downs Syndrome, Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, Williams Syndrome, Developmental Delays, Brain Injury and other cognitive challenges). Since inception, North Texas SNAP has expanded its small circle to serve approximately 200 intellectually disabled adults throughout North Texas. Our membership ranges in intellectual and developmental disabilities and is comprised of the intellectually disabled member, their families, business professionals and community members.

Like their peers without intellectual disabilities SNAP members have the same hopes and dreams; they want to have jobs, friends, relationships, and to feel they’re a part of their community and treated with the same respect. North Texas SNAP is committed to helping these individuals achieve their goals and has become a strong voice for change for our members. Our vision is to have a community where people with intellectual disabilities and their families have a network that supports independence, choice and personal success for generations to come.

DT: What are your duties at North Texas SNAP?

BS: As Executive Director, my job duties include overall strategic and operational responsibility for North Texas SNAP’s staff, programs, expansion, and execution of its mission. In addition, I facilitate the organizations fund development, marketing and public relations as well as event planning.  

DT: How did you become involved with North Texas SNAP, and why are you so passionate about the work being done? 

BS: In 2008, I met Rita Goodner, Board President through chamber networking events. For years, I was fascinated by the programs and services North Texas SNAP provided for individuals 17 and older living with intellectual disabilities. They creates an environment where their members could be themselves, education was key, their programs/services supported the needs of their members and everyone was accepted for who they are. In 2012, Mrs. Goodner invited me to join the Board of Directors. My background included fund development and event planning and I was excited to help take North Texas SNAP to the next level. I was confident that the organization had so many untapped possibilities. Being someone that does not have a child with intellectual disabilities, I wanted to be a part of an organization that helped those with disabilities live fulfilling lives. After serving on the board for 2 years, I was truly blessed in March 2014 when the board asked me to step in as Executive Director. Words cannot express how honored I was to accept that responsibility. Since that time, I have hit the ground running building awareness about the wonderful programs/services we provide for our members and building relationship that will help the organization increase revenue to help more individuals living with intellectual disabilities. My heart and passion for the organization lies in this, “SNAP members have the same hopes and dreams as their peers without intellectual disabilities; they want to have jobs, friendships, and healthy relationships as well as feel like a part of their community and be treated with respect. North Texas SNAP provides these opportunities and offers an environment where our members are visible in an invisible world.”

Our President, Rita Goodner said “I joined SNAP for my son who has a developmental disability.  When he graduated from high school, even though he had a part-time job and support from family, he had no friends and was becoming more and more isolated.  I have seen remarkable growth, not only for him but for many of our members.  He now has many friends, participates in  social activities, lives on his own and is living a full and happy life, all as a result of the support and programs of SNAP.”

Our Program Director, Paula Baker said, “I was teaching a transitional skills program for young adults with special challenges at Tarrant County College - NE Campus when parents of some of my students asked me to consider working for NTX SNAP to develop an independent living support program for members who would each live in their own dwelling with family support and weekly training and support from me.  I loved the real world learning opportunity and quickly became inspired to help all our members in a variety of ways.  My passion comes from seeing the great treasure that lies in each of our members and my desire to help them shine!”

DT: How can the people of North Texas and beyond help you meet your needs in 2015? What are your biggest needs?

BS: Our biggest need is funding. North Texas SNAP receives no federal or state funding, operating solely on benevolent gifts and event sponsorships/revenue. We are looking for caring individuals, businesses, organizations and foundations who have a heart for individuals 17 and older living with intellectual disabilities. These are the people who provide the support needed to keep North Texas SNAP strong. Our ultimate goal is to build relationships that create awareness and provide funding for our programs and services. We are not just looking for a hand out but a hand up, relationship and individuals who care enough to get involved both financially and with their time.

We have ventured out this year adding a golf classic to our list of fundraising activities to help increase revenue in our top three programs. Funds raised from the Cornerstone Wealth Strategies & North Texas SNAP Golf Classic (Monday, May 11, 2015 at Timarron Country Club) will support North Texas Special Needs Assistance Partners (SNAP) Greater Independent Living Program (GIL). This program includes the Transportation Program, Expanded Living Program and Project Neighbor Program and is vital to the organization’s mission to create and support a variety of programs that assist individuals 17 and older living with intellectual disabilities in achieving and sustaining full lives.

Cornerstone Wealth Strategies, a financial planning organization, has joined in the efforts to help North Texas SNAP create choices for individuals 17 and older living with intellectual disabilities by joining us as Title Sponsor of the 2015 Cornerstone Wealth Strategies & North Texas SNAP Golf Classic. As the founder and principal of Cornerstone Wealth, Julie Bird is committed to both her clients and the community. Partnering with Julie is a great combination of business and community coming together to make a significant difference in Northeast Tarrant County. Cornerstone Wealth Strategies and North Texas SNAP are asking individuals and business owners to partner with us to make this an event individuals, community members and business professionals won’t want to miss. The impact your partnership and participation will have on the individuals we serve will be very rewarding. In addition to the Golf Classic we will continue to have the annual gala, Boots & Bling Casino Night. As our biggest fundraising event we are honored to have Carolyn Sims (Chief of Staff for Commissioner Fickes) join us as Honorary Chairwoman.

This year’s Boots & Bling Casino Night is scheduled for Saturday, September 19, 2015 at the Hurst Conference Center. Attendance for 2014 was 265 and we are expecting tremendous growth for this year’s event. Our goal is to raise $65,000 at “Boots & Bling Casino Night” and again are looking for individuals and businesses to sponsors and attend. Funds from this event support North Texas SNAP’s programs and services, creating a community where people with intellectual disabilities and their families have a network that supports independence, choice and personal success.

More information can be found on our website at

DT: How do people with intellectual disabilities benefit from the kind of support system that SNAP provides?  

BS: North Texas SNAP is dedicated to creating and supporting a variety of programs and services for individuals 17 and older living with intellectual disabilities. Our members’ unique needs and personal potential are guiding factors as we develop activities and programs to help them achieve the skills necessary to successfully succeed in society. Members have the opportunity to grow in a positive and caring environment where friendships are nurtured and life skills are developed. They enjoy an environment where they can grow in social and consumer skills, prepare for employment and gain work experience, build up confidence to try new things and speak up for themselves, develop friendships and receive continued support from volunteers and staff to sustain them for generations to come. In addition, they get the opportunity to prove to the community that they are able in so many ways to be productive and to give back to the communities where they live, work and play.

Families with individuals with special needs often do not have an extensive support system which can relate to their challenges. NTX SNAP families gain from the advice and encouragement of our staff as we team with the family to approach challenges in new ways and push boundaries of past limitations to new frontiers. The support and experience of other SNAP families is a priceless resource of information and encouragement as families can relate to the unique joys and difficulties special challenges can bring to a family.

Testimonials –

Amber is a friendly and very helpful person. She just celebrated ten-years at a local grocery store in the customer service field.  A few years back she decided she wanted to have her own place, to live on her own.  Her mother turned to North Texas SNAP and our Project Neighbor- supported independent living program. With the support of her family and the training and support of SNAP’s creative approach to independent living, Amber has learned to take care of her own home and her own personal needs.  She is a very active member of SNAP, participating in JOBS Club, Girls Night Out, Supper Club, Movie Night and every social event. Amber also serves on our Social Committee and is an Ambassador for NTX SNAP! Doing puzzles is a favorite past time and she cares for her grandmother who lives close by. Amber is always willing to help out her family and her friends and is a great example of our members’ positive attitude and, with a little support, great capabilities.

Randall is known for his warm and wonderful smile and his eagerness to participate and contribute. North Texas SNAP Men’s Club was an immediate hit with Randall. He enjoys the camaraderie among the guys and loves every activity, but Randall is not only interested in having fun, he has been an active and enthusiastic participant in our service projects, as well!  When SNAP held a food drive he was an active participant, lending his muscle, as well as, his cheerful, friendliness to the project.  When the Men’s Club took on the clean-up of an overgrown historic cemetery, Randall was right there cleaning up broken branches and taking down an old fence with his fellow SNAP members! Of course, his favorite SNAP activity is when we attend a Rangers game, a college basketball game or a good hockey game.  Randall is also, very interested in finding a job so he has been regularly attending our JOBS Club- employment support group to hear about other members jobs, learn how to be the very best employee and work on his interviewing skills. He will make a dedicated and loyal employee for some lucky employer!   Wanting to continue to learn and grow, Randall has attended many of SNAP’s independent living skills workshops. His eagerness to learn and be a part of an active community is one of the many rewards those who help him receive….AND, of course, that beaming smile!


“SNAP is a great way to be social and make new friends!  Girls Night Out has helped me discover new things.  The Expanded Living Program has helped me become more independent and helped me to prepare for when I move out on my own.”


“Before SNAP I didn’t have “a life”, now I have lots of friends and get to do a lot of fun activities like Men’s Club, Supper Club and Rangers’ games.  And I get to learn how to be a better man.”


“I like Supper Club because I can meet new people and greet old friends!”


“I love SNAP. I have a lot of friends. I like bowling. I like to go to dances with my girlfriend.  I like Men’s Club and all the different sports events and activities.

Project Neighbor helps me to live on my own. I was scared at first but I learned how to be safe, cook, clean and take care of myself.”


“My favorite thing about North Texas SNAP is it’s fun! I like the people. I like to help out my friends.  I like going to the movies with my friends. I like learning about leadership in Men’s Club. I am so glad SNAP has helped me through Paul Baker to get a job and live on my own. I am learning how to do things like budgeting my money.”

DT: Not only do the clients benefit, but their families also get a support network as well. Why is that important?

BS: North Texas SNAP’s vision is to provide a community where individuals 17 and older living with intellectual disabilities and their families have a network that supports independence, choice and personal success. Having a child with a disability can be challenging and North Texas SNAP understands that, we want our members and their families to have a place that they belong and receive the support needed to succeed despite life’s challenges.

DT: What is your most memorable moment at North Texas SNAP?

BS: There are many memorable moments in this organization. The moments when you see a member open up to make new friends, become excited to learn to do new things on their own or shine with pride at getting a job. Program Director, Paula Baker said, “Specifically, one such moment that stands out to me was when one of our young ladies who has autism and struggled with relating to her peers but instead always gravitated to older adults who had more patience to listen to her share about her interests at length. After encouragement to join in our Girls Night Out program’s monthly meetings, with in just three months or so, her mother approached me with tears in her eyes to report that through these monthly get-togethers her daughter had blossomed in confidence among her peers, having fun sharing in activities and that this was the first time in her life that she had real friends that even began to connect to do things together outside of our meetings! This is one of the joys of working with and for the wonderfully special people of North Texas SNAP!”

If you'd like to nominate a local resident for a BubbleLife community profile, contact Dawn Tongish at or find her on Twitter at @DawnTongish.

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Nick Totten
Community Conversation with Dawn Tongish: Meet Nick Totten, executive chef and Owner of Nola Grill in Frisco where diners can expect an upscale, yet casual experience reminescent of the French Quarter. Totten and his staff offer made from scratch New Orleans-style Cajun and Creole food with a bar-lounge that includes an extensive wine and cocktail list.
Since he was a teen, Totten has dreamed of being a chef and owning his own restaurant. He graduated from Johnson and Wales Culinary University in Charleston, South Carolina and went on to do apprentice work in New Orleans, where he became very fond of the cooking style. He has held numerous, prestigous executive chef positions before opening his own restaurant, along with his partner -- his wife, Christine. We wanted to know more about what this chef thinks about current trends and what diners can expect when they visit the Nola Grill. Totten was kind enough to answer a few questions: 
Dawn Tongish: Can you begin by telling us about Nola Grill and what patrons can expect in a dining experience?      
Nick Totten: Nola Grill is an upscale Creole Restaurant with a true French Quarter setting From the Lanterns to the brick and the famous art work on the walls and the background music. The food is inspired by the great New Orleans traditions Like Gumbo made with a true dark roux to shrimp creole. we specialize in serving Fresh seafood, Steaks and Chops all of our Product is Prime quality or better. Our guest can expect true southern hospitality when they walk thru the door. We pride ourselves on providing a true dinning experience with southern charm. All of our food is made from scratch on site with true culinary passion and our guest expect the best and deserve it.
DT: What do you think DFW customers are looking for when dining out?    
NT: I think all customers when dinning out are looking for the WOW factor from service to presentation of the food. The blending of flavors and the unique twist that is put into every dish at Nola. 
DT: Where does your passion for cooking come from? 
NT: My passion for cooking comes from my younger days spending time with my grand mother who was a culinary pioneer in New England. I recall making fresh jams and preserves from the garden and watching her prepare the freshest seafood you could get. By the time I was 15 I wanted to become a Chef. I loved the creativity of it. So after the years of working in kitchens I attended Johnson & Wales in Charleston SC. I truly loved the knowledge I had gained. After completing that I turned to New Orleans where I loved the style of cooking. After doing a apprenticeship at Emeril's I moved through more kitchens of New Orleans and then returned to Hilton Head. In SC is where I took on a new challenge of Chef De Cuisine at CQs in Harbor town. After just one short year I took over as Executive Chef and transformed CQs into Hilton Head Landmark for cuisine. After years of working there I landed at the Mansion on Turtle Creek and gained even more knowledge for my passion, but in the back of my mind there was always New Orleans. So I created Nola Grill and here we are.
DT: Do you believe diners are concerned about budget when they think about eating out?  
NT: I believe all customers are concerned about budget, but that's were we as chefs and restaurant owners have to provide the WOW factor. Every guest is treated like they are in my home (They kind of are cause I live here lol) They need to be treated with respect and taken care of so the perceived value is there. 
DT: It seems the number of health-consious choices are growing on most menus. Do you think we will continue to see that trend? 
NT: The health craze will always continue to grow and be there. Now if you see a menu and there is nothing on it for your diet please ask the server to talk with the chef and see what can be created. I do this all the time and all Chefs should be happy to do the same in my opinion. Its all about the customer.
DT: What is your most memorable experience as a chef?  
NT: My most memorable experience as a Chef is opening my own restaurant. That's what all Chefs want.
DT: Are you totally addicted to the Food Network and the cooking shows? What is your favorite?  
NT: Am I addicted to the cooking shows? lol Yes! I love them! Its funny because I cook all day and come home and my wife and partner, Christine will say really cooking shows again? Honestly, I don't have a favorite, but I do like "A Place At The Table" on PBS, because it has the Pioneers of the biz on it.

If you'd like to nominate a local resident for a BubbleLife community profile, contact Dawn Tongish at or find her on Twitter at @DawnTongish.

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Community Conversation With Dawn Tongish: Meet Katie Pedigo, executive director of New Friends New Life, an organization that transforms formerly trafficked teen girls and sexually exploited women and their children. Pedigo, with nearly two decades of management and strategic planning experience has a passion for human rights and helping others. With a law degree from SMU, she began her career in the home care industry in human resources and then moved to the nonprofit sector.

In 2007, Pedigo was named the founding executive director of Encompass Cares, a group which raises funds and distributes grants for medical missions and community assistance for employees undergoing hardship. Pedigo believes that being a good corporate citizen builds loyalty, consumer trust is overall the "right thing to do." Pedigo serves on many nonprofit orgranizations and in 2009 was named a "Hero for Children" by the Texas Education Commission. We wanted to know more about New Friends New Life what drives this thoughtful leader and Pedigo was kind enough to answer a few questions. 

Dawn Tongish: Can you tell us about New Friends New Life. 

Katie Pedigo: Mission Statement: New Friends New Life restores and empowers formerly trafficked teen girls and sexually exploited women and their children. Programs: By providing access to education, job training, interim financial assistance, mental health and spiritual support, New Friends New Life helps women and their children overcome backgrounds of abuse, addiction, poverty and limited opportunities. 

History:  In 1998, a women’s committee from a local church began helping a woman, named Amy, looking to get out of exotic dancing. The committee offered financial assistance and access to other services. More and more women who wanted to leave the sex trafficking industry began to contact them.  As more women came forward seeking help, the program grew to become its own organization in 2000. And by 2007 the organization became known as New Friends New Life. In its first five years the staff and volunteers helped and offered assistance to 87 women.

Today:  The organization has developed to the point that it now provides counseling and casework management for women and their children, childcare and child education programs for children of members, and a therapeutic prevention program involving sexual abuse recovery at the Dallas County Juvenile Detention Centers, including the Letot Girls’ Center. New Friends New Life partners with a number of businesses and organizations to help members take control of their lives and have a bright outlook for their futures.  In 2014, New Friends New Life served more than 1,100  women and their children and teens.

DT: What are your duties at New Friends New Life? 

KP: As Executive Director, I direct and lead New Friends New Life.  This includes developing strategy with goals and objectives that enables New Friends New Life to fulfill the mission set forth by the Board of Directors.  My main responsibilities include marketing and public relations, program planning, development and evaluation, financial management, legal compliance, board, donor and volunteer relations.

DT: How did you become involved with New Friends New Life, and why are you so passionate about the work being done?  

KP: After receiving my law degree from SMU, I sought to work human rights law but could not find a place in Dallas to do so.  After many years of practicing, God lead me to New Friends New Life.  It is clear that human trafficking is a modern day form of slavery and the human rights issue of our time.  New Friends New Life seeks justice for the vulnerable and oppressed.  Now that is something to be passionate about. 

DT: Many people may not realize that child trafficking is a significant problem in North Texas. Most believe it only happens across the border or overseas. How do you explain the scope of the problem right here at home? 

KP: Every year, millions of men, women and children worldwide are involved in human trafficking.  In the United States, an estimated 300,000 children are at high risk for being lured with false promises and manipulated by people they trust.  These children are forced and coerced into the  commercial sex industry.  Texas ranks 2nd in the country for the most human trafficking. The Dallas sex trade is annually a $99 million crime. In Dallas, women controlled by traffickers are typically forced to make $1,000 per day and are beaten or suffer witnessing beatings if they cannot provide that amount. 

DT: Who are the most vulnerable children? 

KP: The average age an American girl enters the sex trade is 13 years old.  96% of trafficked teens have been physically abused, 93% sexually abused, 87% abandoned, 80% run away from troubled homes.  Within 48 hours of being on the street, sex traffickers will approach a runaway teen.  There are an estimated 400 trafficked teens on the street each night in Dallas. 

DT: What can the average person do to be part of the solution and help bring an end to this travesty against children? 

KP: Domestic sex trafficking is in every corner of our city.  It is everyone’s responsibility to reject exploitation, which is the key to ending the trafficking of American women and girls. We ask the community to get involved!  Help raise awareness.  Help by financially supporting the holistic, transformational work of New Friends New Life.  Help advocate to our legislators, city leaders and law enforcement by letting them know this is a problem we care about and will not tolerate.  Volunteer time and professional resources to help a teen girl, exploited woman and her children overcome the barriers to success.

DT: What is the most memorable moment in your experience at New Friends New Life? 

KP: New Friends New Life is about children – breaking the generational cycle of abuse and trauma that leads young girls to be hopeless, fearful and enslaved.  82% of the women in our program have on average 2 children, at the average age of 8 years old.  My most memorable moment was unveiling a new, furnished home to a woman with her two children.  Knowing that the woman was completing a long transformational process from being trafficked and imprisoned to now having a livable wage job and her children in exceptional education placements, I felt like I was witnessing a true miracle.  With every hug, tear and prayer, I witnessed hope, security and freedom return to their eyes.  Not only was the woman’s life changed, her family and her community are forever transformed.

DT: You have an important luncheon and special guest event next year. Can you share those details? 

KP: Kevin Costner will headline 12th Annual WINGS Luncheon, on Friday, April 10, 2015, 11:30 a.m., at the Hyatt Regency Dallas, 300 Reunion Blvd., Dallas, Texas 75207.  The luncheon will feature Costner in an interview format with Producer Gary Cogill; an awards presentation; and an update about the work of New Friends New Life.  Luncheon Chair Ambassador Jeanne Johnson Phillips joins Honorary Co-Chairs Ruth Altshuler and First Lady Laura Bush and incoming Board Chair Nancy Ann Hunt

Sponsorships are available, ranging from 1,750-$50,000.  Individual tickets – if not sold out via sponsorships – will be available beginning Feb. 4 at $175 each.  Contact Kelly Cruse,, (214) 965-0935.

If you'd like to nominate a local resident for a BubbleLife community profile, contact Dawn Tongish at or find her on Twitter at @DawnTongish.

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Chef DJ Quintanilla

Community Conversation with Dawn Tongish: Meet DJ Quintanilla, executive chef of Resto Gastro Bistro at Trinity Groves in Dallas. Quintanlla is also the owner of Resto, a Modern American Bistro which opened its doors in November of 2014. The self-taught chef with more than 20 years of experience brings his hands-on approach to the atmosphere at Resto. His philosophy in the kitchen is "I think of cooking as a way of life not a job. I do what I do from what is in front of me, I don’t need to go looking proud or order items that are far fetched." Quintanilla believes there are 10,000 ways to prepare a dish.

Seeing the restaurant come to fruitition is especially poignant, given the recent health scare for Quintanilla. In 2006, he was diagnosed with cancer and underwent surgery. He says that beating cancer gave him the resolve to do better, be his best and keep his eye on the goal of opening his own restaurant. From the time he was a child, Quintanilla has dreamed about being a chef. He comes from a long line of good cooks. Last year, he proved he can stand toe-to-toe under pressure and compete with the best of the best chefs in the country. Chef Quintanilla competed on Cut Throat Kitchen airing on The Food Network, where he placed second.

We wanted to know more about Quintanilla's thoughts on dining out and his newly-opened Resto and he was kind enough to answer a few questions:  

Dawn Tongish: Can you begin by telling us about Resto Gastro Bistro and what patrons can expect in a dining experience?  
DJ Quintanilla: Resto Gastro Bistro is a Modern American Bistro with a unique blend of flavors incorporating French technique and drawing influences from Asia with some pure Americana additions. Our menu is bistro influenced, with an accessible assortment of menu items with twist on many favorites. We use high quality proteins, fresh produce with house made sauces and family recipes for our house made desserts. Craft Cocktails and an accessible wine list add to the experience. Our eclectic wine list offers selections that are recognizable as well as selections “off the beaten path” for discovery. The bar also has 2 rotating beers on tap with several bottle options. Resto has been nominated and is accepted as A Great Bourbon Bar of America. Resto’s interior has been described as Farmhouse Chic. A mix of rustic farmhouse and flashy bling Repurposed wood & metal bar front, tables and distressed stained high back chairs, Crystal and French inspired vintage style chandeliers. Signature blue bar stools. Comfortable touches with high back booths and soothing paint colors.  
DT: You are the owner/executive chef at Resto in Trinity Groves. What is your favorite dish on the menu and why?  
DJQ: Red Chili Honey Cured Filet -- We cover the meat in our special spice mixture and honey and roll the meat in plastic film before refrigerating overnight. The spices and honey create a cure. When the filets are butchered you can see the ring of the cure around the meat. We grill the filet to temperature and serve over sour cream potato croquettes with roasted garlic bordelaise sauce. The filet is extremely tender and has such a juicy succulent flavor.
DT: What do you think DFW customers are looking for when dining out?  
DJQ: DFW customers are very fickle. They have high expectations. Consistency is a must. Dinners expect friendly, attentive service. They are looking for innovative menu items, but also familiar dishes prepared with quality ingredients. Diners are becoming more educated and have so many outlets to express their experience.
DT: Where does your passion for cooking come from? 
DJQ: I come from a large family of many aunts, uncles, cousins. Several of them are in the industry. I used to help my uncles prep and cook in their booths at festivals. Growing up I was not the best student. When I was eight years old I had a dream that God came to me and asked me if I wanted to learn to spell or cook. I told him “I’m hungry, I want to cook”.
DT: It seems the number of health-consious choices are growing on most menus. Do you think we will continue to see that trend?  

DJQ: Most restaurants will continue to offer lighter fare selections on their menus. It is also important to be able to adapt to guests specific needs. We have requests almost daily for gluten free items, vegetarians, and accommodating food allergies. It is so important that we are ready with selections and modifications that will provide an equally memorable experience for guests with these restrictions.  On the flip side, butter and bacon will always be necessary! 

DT: What is your most memorable experience as a chef? 

DJQ: My most memorable experience as a chef was appearing on CutThroat Kitchen and of course, the day we were chosen to open Resto Gastro Bistro!

If you'd like to nominate a local resident for a BubbleLife community profile, contact Dawn Tongish at or find her on Twitter at @DawnTongish.

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James Bias

Community Conversation with Dawn Tongish: Meet James Bias, president and CEO of the SPCA of Texas, the leading animal welfare agency in the North Texas Region. Bias oversees the operation of two shelters and three spay/neuter clinics and manages a variety of educational programs and services designed to bring people and animals together to make life better. 

From the instant you meet Bias, he radiates his desire to help animals find loving homes. It is evident in his work history. Before joining the SPCA of Texas ten years ago, Bias was the executive director of the Humane Society SPCA of Bexar County in San Antonio. We wanted to know more about the SPCA Texas and Bias and he was kind enough to answer a few questions: 

Dawn Tongish: Please begin by telling us about the SPCA of Texas.  

James Bias: The SPCA of Texas is the leading animal welfare agency in North Texas with two shelters and three spay/neuter clinics located in Dallas and McKinney, and serves as an active resource center providing an array of programs and services that bring people and animals together to enrich each other’s lives.  

Though many people know who we are, some may not know that the SPCA of Texas is: 

• A private, non-profit 501(c)(3) charity, supported almost entirely by donations, that is not a subsidiary of any other animal welfare group (we are separate from all other animal welfare organizations); and

• A comprehensive animal welfare agency that does not receive general operating funds from North Texas cities, the State of Texas, the federal government or any other humane organization.

DT: What are your duties at the SPCA of Texas?   

JB: As President and CEO of the SPCA of Texas, I oversee all aspects of the management and operation of the organization. Prior to becoming President of the SPCA of Texas in 2004, I was Executive Director of the Humane Society SPCA of Bexar County in San Antonio. I also served as Regional Coordinator for the Humane Society of the United States Southwest Regional office, Animal Services Manager for the City of Albuquerque Animal Services, Executive Director for the Humane Society of North Texas in Fort Worth and Operations Director for Citizens for Animal Protection in Houston. I am a current Board member and Past Board Chair of the Society of Animal Welfare Administrators, was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Council on Pet Population and am on the Board of the Lone Star Business Park Association.

DT: There has been a lot of effort poured into reducing the pet overpopulation problem. Do you think it is working? If not, what needs to change?   

JB: I think that there has been a wonderful effort by the North Texas community to help reduce pet overpopulation; however I do believe we have a long way to go before the problem is solved. It is estimated that it would take every person in the U.S. adopting seven pets every day for the rest of their lives for every pet in this country to have a home, so that kind of gives an overall picture of the enormous problem of pet overpopulation. I believe that continued education of spay/neuter, as well as programs offering free or low-cost spay/neuter procedures will continue to help this issue. 

For example, this year, as a part of the Big Fix for Big D initiative—which offers free spay or neuter surgeries, vaccinations, City of Dallas registrations and more to animals from 8 zip codes in south Dallas—we’ve come together with three other groups (the Spay Neuter Network, Dallas Animal Services and the Dallas Companion Animal Project) to offer the community a website and Facebook page that engages people, urging them to help us spread the word about this fantastic program, sharing important information about the importance of spaying and neutering companion animals and debunking myths and mysteries relating to spaying and neutering animals.

DT: The SPCA of Dallas is a no kill shelter, but do you think that most animal lovers are aware of how many unwanted cats/dogs are euthanized each year because of overpopulation?

JB: At the SPCA of Texas, we actually consider ourselves a managed intake shelter. This means that we take in only the animals we can care for without euthanizing for lack of time or space. We have no time limits and we do not euthanize animals for lack of space, but we do, however, euthanize animals for aggression and for untreatable and/or contagious illnesses based upon available treatment space and SPCA of Texas policies. Once a reservation is secured, an animal will not be turned away because of looks, breed or non-contagious, treatable health conditions based upon available treatment space and SPCA of Texas policies. The only factors that determine whether an animal is adoptable are the results of the health and behavior evaluations.

For decades, animal welfare organizations have worked hard to elevate the status that companion animals hold in our lives. We are now reaching that level and animal welfare is becoming a topic of discussion for non-profit as well as government organizations. The Animal Welfare Community’s focus has shifted to saving as many lives as possible through prevention (education and spaying/neutering), rescue and investigation along with animal adoption. I think that we will continue to see more private/public partnerships to adopt animals, particularly in non-traditional shelter settings such as retailers and shopping malls.

DT: It can be difficult for any non-profit to pay the bills. How do you stay afloat? 

JB: Our biggest challenge continues to be achieving sustainable funding and obtaining other, non-financial recourses that are absolutely critical to allowing us to meet the needs of North Texas people and pets. The SPCA of Texas is able to respond to animals in need only through the generous support of private individuals, corporations and foundations. We help over 50,000 animals receive the love, attention and medical care they need each year. We need our community’s help to continue providing the wide array of programs and services that we offer to the people and pets of North Texas. Giving to the SPCA of Texas is an investment in the North Texas community because our donors’ gifts go directly toward helping animals in need in our immediate area.  

DT: How can the people of North Texas and beyond help meet your needs for 2014? What are your biggest needs? 

JB: Our biggest challenge continues to be achieving sustainable funding and obtaining other, non-financial resources that are absolutely critical to allowing us to meet the needs of North Texas people and pets. Again, the SPCA of Texas is able to respond to animals in need only through the generous support of private individuals, corporations and foundations. We help more than 50,000 animals receive the love, attention and medical care they need each year. We need our community’s help to continue providing the wide array of programs and services that we offer to the people and pets of North Texas. Giving to the SPCA of Texas is an investment in the North Texas community because our donors’ gifts go directly toward helping animals in need in our immediate area. Our community can help with donations and volunteer support, including working in the shelters and fostering animals. I urge everyone to get to know us and learn more about how they can help us help animals by visiting

DT: What is the most memorable moment in your experiences at SPCA of Dallas?   

JB: Truly, three moments stand out equally to me. Going chronologically, our response efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, our seizure of 26,411 exotic animals from U.S. Global Exotics in 2009/2010 (an exotic dealer that was found to be cruelly treating the animals) and the opening of our state-of-the-art, industry-leading Jan Rees-Jones Animal Care Center in Dallas in 2012. All three were monumental in scope, and all three allowed us to live our mission, to provide every animal exceptional care and a loving home.

DT: I can't let this profile end without revealing a bit about your amazing personal story. Your deep caring goes well beyond animals. You are also an adoptive father. Can you talk about the decision to open your heart and home and adopt children? 

JB: My wife and I are indeed blessed with a wonderful family.  I have a very passionate wife, and both of us are guided by our faith, so we decided to add to our family through adoption. Our family includes five boys and six girls, ages 6 to 19.

If you'd like to nominate a local resident for a BubbleLife community profile, contact Dawn Tongish at or find her on Twitter at @DawnTongish.

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Jeff Miracle
Meet Jeff Miracle, executive director of the American Lung Association in North Texas. It's a big job. Miracle is in charge of overseeing all activities in the DFW area and surrounding 120 county region of North Texas. Under his leadership, staff and volunteers provide education about the hardship of lung disease and other conditions affecting the lungs. Miracle has a decades-long history of working with nonprofit organizations and a strong desire to help others through positive change. He hopes to have an impact on the staggering numbers. Lung disease kills almost 160,000 americans every year.
It is at this time of year that many people vow to give up smoking and for good reason. Lung disease is the leading cancer killer in both men and women in the U.S. We wanted to hear more from Miracle about the mission of the American Lung Association and its desire to curb smoking and bring an end to this tragic disease. 
Dawn Tongish: Please begin by telling us about the mission of the American Lung Association.    
Jeff Miracle: Our Mission: To save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease.
Mission Goals
  • The American Lung Association will eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related lung disease.
  • The American Lung Association will improve the air we breathe so it will not cause or worsen lung disease.
  • The American Lung Association will reduce the burden of lung disease on patients and their families. 
DT: What are your duties at the American Lung Association?    
JM: I am the Executive Director for the American Lung Association in North Texas. I oversee all activities of the American Lung Association in the DFW area and a 120 county region of North Texas. My duties include development of a local Leadership Board, hiring and managing staff, recruiting volunteers, educating the public on the tragedy of lung disease and other conditions effecting the lungs, handling public relations and raising funds needed to complete the mission of the American Lung Association.
DT: How did you become involved with the American Lung Association, and why are you so passionate about the work being done?   
JM: For the past 24 years I have worked as an Executive Director with several national non profit organizations. In May of 2014 I was made aware of the opportunity at the American Lung Association in north Texas for the position of executive director. In July the American Lung Association in Texas was restructured and came under the leadership of the Southwest Region of the American Lung Association. I was fortunate enough to be hired to lead the local organization. Lung Disease kills almost 160,000 americans every year. It is the leading cancer killer in both men and women in the United States. I took this position to try to make a difference in those affected by this terrible cancer.
DT: Laws against smoking in public have been strengthened in recent years. What other changes would you like to see take hold? 
JM: We are seeking increased funding for cancer research at the National Institutes of Health and for better cures, treatments and early detection for lung cancer. We would also want to see a state law passed banning smoking in public places. This has been done in many municipalities but is not state wide. 
DT: Smoking is still one of the hardest habits to break. What can someone say/do for a loved one or friend, to help them become smoke-free? 
JM: My best recommendation would be for them to visit and read some of the great information we have on our website. 
DT: How can the people of North Texas and beyond help meet your needs for 2014? What are your biggest needs at the American Lung Association? 
JM: We are trying to reactivate many of the programs that the American Lung Association has provided North Texas in the past. These include smoking cessation programs in the work place, support groups for patients and families affected by lung disease and education programs concerning the dangers of smoking to students. In order for us to be able to do this, we have two major fundraisers in 2105. Our Fight for Air Climb takes place on February 21, 2015 at Renaissance Towers. Registration for this event can be done at We are also having a Lung FORCE 5k Walk. We are very excited about this event. it will take place on Saturday, April 25, 2015 and we are partnering with Earth Day Texas for this event. The registration for this event is There is no registration fee but we do encourage those coming out to raise funds for the American Lung Association in North Texas. 
DT: What is your most memorable moment at the American Lung Association?
JM: Since I have only been at the American Lung Association for 4 months, I am still working on building memorable moments. However, as a part of our strategies moving forward, we moved our office in Dallas at the beginning of November 2014. as we were sorting through old files we came across two envelopes which were closed and marked "seals". Inside were Christmas Seals that the American Lung Association had mailed to donors in the 1950's and 60's. Mixed in with those Christmas Seals was a letter that said "1969 Christmas Seal Campaign" across the top as I looked at the letter, I realized that it was the DFW area letter that had been sent that Christmas to our supporters. It was the original letter and it was signed by Mickey Mantle! It had been sealed in an envelope for over 40 years! It will soon be framed and hanging in our Dallas office.

If you'd like to nominate a local resident for a BubbleLife community profile, contact Dawn Tongish at or find her on Twitter at @DawnTongish.