Meet Ross Alan, the creator of a program designed to change the public's perception of animal shelters in an effort to get pets adopted into loving families. Alan is the CEO of Pet-Peeps PetCam, which allows a pet owner to see his or her beloved Fido or Fluffly 24/7. In order to jump start shelter adoptions, Alan is spearheading a special plan with the company he started in 2009. Once 75 people use a specific hash tag, the shelter or resuce will receive the wifi PetCam free of charge. Alan says this will begin to change the view that shelter pets are damaged goods. He says many people still think shelters are depressing and dirty, which just isn't true. 

Since childhood, Alan has enjoyed the companionship of rescue and shelter dogs. Today, he has several dogs adopted from kennels. Unfortnately, many animals aren't so lucky. The numbers are staggering. 60% of all pets in animal shelters are euthanized. In 2013, nearly 2.7 million shelter pets never found a home.  Unfortuanaelycked to hear that 60% of all pets in animal shelter are euthanized. In fact, in 2013 nearly 2.7 million shelter pets never found a forever home. With the holidays and many people considering giving a pet as a gift, we wanted to know hear more about Ross Alan and his PetCam program. 

Dawn Tongish: The holidays can be a time when people consider giving a pet as a gift. Can you talk about the program you started to help more shelter dogs find homes? 

Ross Alan: Giving a pet at holiday time or any other time isn’t like giving somebody a new blender. A pet can’t be blindly bought for someone as a novelty.  A pet is a special animal that brings unconditional love to a family or companionship to an elder.  The pets at these shelters are desperately in need of a good home and some are fighting the clock just to remain alive. The program we’ve started will greatly help in matching the perfect family with the perfect pet and give a each what they both need in their lives.

DT: It is startling to many people to learn that the majority of animals sent to shelters don't survive. They are euthanized. You are working to change this. Why is this so close to your heart? 

RA: As a kid I remember picking out FLOPPY my first dog from a kennel.  I saw a friend, a companion and comfort in him from the moment I saw him. I didn’t need some designer dog from a pet shop I just wanted a buddy to play with and at the time I was too young to understand that most of the kennel dogs I saw were on a schedule to be euthanized if not adopted.  Floppy stayed my friend for many years and saw me through every childhood disaster without a complaint and unwavering love.  Since then I’ve never been without a dog or two or three all adopted from kennels.  We all need that special bond with someone and I want to do my part to see that happen for both, a loving family and a pet that deserves that good love.

DT: Why do you think some people are reluctant to adopt a dog or cat from a shelter or rescue organization? 

RA: For some reason people think that because a dog or cat is in a shelter that it’s “broken” or “sickly.”  True there are many that are but not all and it’s those “broken and sickly” pets that need love the most.  It takes a special person to see beyond a pet that was abused or just spent too much time on the streets trying to stay alive and adopt it to give it a new chance at a good life.  All it takes is one good lick on the nose from a pet at a kennel to begin a wonderful relationship.  There are hundreds and thousands of wanting pets that can’t speak with anything but their eyes to tell you to take them home and they’ll love you for life.

DT: Where did this idea of Pet-Peeps PetCam come from? It seems like an idea that could inspire people to think about adopting from a shelter? 

RA: A PetCam at a shelter allows a family to see the rescued pets up for adoption.  This is very important because not every pet is suited for every family.  The live stream from a shelter that we’re proposing to do on a large scale will allow a family with children to watch an adoptable dog or cat for it’s personality.  You wouldn’t want to match a frisky energetic dog that needs lots of exercise with an elder that may be homebound and just needs a loving companion.  And you wouldn’t want to pair up a family with several young children with a frail small dog. A PetCam located at a shelter allows potential owners to watch a pet over a period of time to see if they can give that animal the type of home it deserves.

DT: At our house, we have a rescued Shih Tzu and Dash is the best, most loving dog ever! Do you have any adopted or rescued pets that you would like to talk about? 

AR: Well you’ve come to the right person to answer that question. Every pet I’ve ever had has been a rescue. Currently I have Roxxii Grace my Rodesian Ridgeback mix that is the love of my life. Don’t tell that to my wife. Roxxii has mastered talking to me with her eyes.  We have a special bond so tight that all she needs to do is look at me and somehow her eyes tell me she’s hungry, needs to go out, worried or sick.  Roxxii goes everywhere with me when I leave the house. Then there’s Georgia Brindle our Boxer mix.  Her name comes from the state that we adopted her from while moving my daughter here to Dallas.  We stopped by a rescue just to take a break on the long drive and before we knew it we were traveling home with a new member of our family.  Georgia solves all of her issues with her tongue.  There is not a situation that Georgia can’t fix with a few licks of love.  She’s a real mommas girl and my wife has a bond with her that sometimes makes me jealous.  She’s the middle child to this pet trilogy and loved just as much as any of them. Finally there’s LuLu Chuweenie our Dachshund and Chihuahuamix.  LuLu is a rescue from one of the rescue shows I attended as a vendor with my PetCams.  I sent my wife around the convention hall with flyers to pass out and she came back with LuLu.  She fell in love with her the second she saw her and was determined not to leave the show without adopting her.  LuLu is 12 lbs of cuteness but a fighter when it comes to defending her dog bone.  The other two girls know to stay away from her bone or suffer the wrath of the Chuweenie.  We call her our cuddle doll because you can’t sit anywhere without her nestling up next to you wanting and giving love. 

DT: What is your wish for pets still in a shelter this holiday, waiting for a loving family?

RA: That’s like asking Santa Claus if he thinks every kid should have a toy. I hope we can empty all the shelters this holiday season with adoptions to good families that need the love of a beautiful dog or cat.  We know that’s not going to happen but if we can reduce the amount of pets in need of a home by just a fraction then we’ll have a great start for the new year. If our PetCam program can help those in need of a relationship that is like none other with an eager and sometimes desperate pet then we’ll be so pleased.

DT: Do you think people should go to a breeder and pay hundreds of dollars for a pet?

RA: Absolutely not.  Just take a trip to a shelter and see how many beautiful animals are waiting for you to take them home for usually nothing more than a small donation and a hug.  I never could see the importance of a designer dog just to be seen with it or prance it around a ring to win a trophy.  A pet is an extension of your family and like I said at the beginning of this interview, picking a pet is not like shopping for a new state of the art blender.  Our shelters are getting more and more crowded with abused and abandoned pets that only want one thing.  Love.

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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Julie Latta

Meet Julie Latta, senior aesthetic advisor at Skintastic, where she is focused on helping patients look and feel their best. Working alongside Cosmetic Surgeon, Dr. Jeffrey Adelglass Latta is a critical decision maker in determining which of the cutting edge procedures and treatments are introduced to patients at Skintastic, which is located in the Uptown area of Dallas. Latta also serves as the cosmetic surgery liasion at Texas Health Center for Diagnostics and Surgery helping patients decide if more minimally invasive techniques like laser skincare is appropriate or if something more like surgery is necessary. 

Latta, who is married and a mother of three knows this time of year can be stressful for women and men who are juggling work, home, school and social committments.  But, she says shopping can be simple if you consider the gift of beauty. With shopping days running low, we turned to this expert for a few tips on how to find just the right beauty item for every person on your list. It may be just what your sweetie is longing for. 

Dawn Tongish: There are just a few shopping days remaining until Christmas. What are your best suggestions for anyone who has procrastinated on gift buying? 

Julie Latta: Everyone is certainly feeling the pressure but I am here to help those in need! Giving the gift of beauty is always always appreciated. I absolutely LOVE products from Skin Medica, not only are they one of highest rated products they are always featured in Allure and other beauty magazines. In fact editors call the line the "go to products for those in the know" we have baskets ready to go or, you can stop by our Plano or Uptown location and create your own beauty basket! 

DT: No one wants to impulse buy when you are down to the wire. Are gift cards a good idea? 

JL: Yes, of course and everyone appreciates a great gift card. Right now when you buy a gift card from Skintastic you can save 20% off the face value. I have to say most people buy a card for a friend and one for themselves, 'tis the season of giving and nobody said you don't deserve to treat yourself too.

DT: For the special woman on someone's list, what do you recommend? 

JL: Ok you can never ever go wrong with the gift of health. In our over worked lives we all forget to take care of ourselves which is not good, and yes I am guilty of this too. I recently gave a girl friend sessions with our wellness director, she recently divorced and felt a little BLAH, so to help her get her "bounce back", I had her meet with Lee and not only did she end up loosing 30 pounds over three month she says she has never had more energy in her life. The sessions can be purchased one at a time or in bulk.  

DT: For the special man on someone's list, what do you recommend?  

JL: Right now, I think the hottest “go to” items for any guy on your list is also a gift to you removal. I know it is not a gift most "manly" guys would ask for so it would certainly be a huge surprise. Once they do it they all really love it and most end up doing other areas. But lets be honest staring at his hair free back, shoulder, or stomach forever sounds very nice so it is a win-win for everyone.

DT: What is the your holiday wish this season? 

JL: My holiday wish is always the same. As much fun as gift giving and receiving can be, it is nothing without family and friends. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season and not take time to enjoy it. No matter how chaotic or dysfunctional it may be, my wish is to spend the holidays with my loved ones and for everyone to remain happy and healthy.  That is truly the greatest gift of all. 

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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Jeanna Doyle

Meet Jeanna Doyle, founder of Suite HOPE, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide women with education and support to address the often dramatic changes in appearance that happen during cancer treatment. Doyle, who is a Licensed Cosmetologist Medical Aesthetic Provider Oncology Esthetician and Corrective Makeup specialist has a dual career in medicine and fashion. Her passion to help others find their beauty during a medical crisis was a natural fit. 

Doyle believes that with the help of Suite HOPE women will find the strength to maintain a positive attitude through their cancer diagnosis, recovery and beyond. Doyle was inspired to begin the nonprofit after seeing a close friend struggle with the aesthetic difficulties of coping with cancer. She decided then she could make a difference. Since then, Suite HOPE's website has received national attention. Leading beauty experts and medical authorities contribute to the website, which also features survivor portraits and inspirational stories. Suite HOPE also participates in educational seminars and live demonstrations across the county. We wanted to know more about Doyle and her mission to spread confidence to cancer survivors and she was kind enough to answer a few questions: 

Dawn Tongish: Please begin by telling us about Suite HOPE.

Jeanna Doyle: HOPE is an acronym that stands for Helping Oncology Patients Esthetically. We are a newly approved 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to assist cancer patients with the appearance related concerns they have as a result of treatment. Suite HOPE assists patients with things like wig selection and recreating the appearance of a natural looking eyebrow and lash line, as well as consulting them about skin and nail changes. We do this with the use of certified oncology estheticians trained in the special needs of persons with cancer. We provide these services for ANY one with ANY type of cancer, from the newly diagnosed to the long-term survivor. Currently we serve the women of the Dallas-Fort Worth. We offer lectures and day workshops throughout the United States. Our website,, is a resource that has been viewed in 24 countries.

DT: What are your duties at Suite HOPE? 

JD: My primary focus is in the development and delivery of programs and services. However, we are a new organization - so I get to wear a lot of hats.

DT: How did you become involved with Suite HOPE, and why are you so passionate about the work being done at the organization?

JD: I founded Suite HOPE as a way to support women. My background is in both corrective makeup and in makeup for advertising and fashion. I have a girlfriend, Ruth, (Story on the site at who I help with her cancer journey. Through that experience it was clear there was a need for this type of support for other women. With a cancer diagnosis there can be sudden and dramatic changes in appearance. We are an organization that starts care from the moment one is diagnosed, and continues the education and support throughout their journey and into survivorship. Just as a cancer patient’s needs change with different stages of treatment and recovery, so do our programs and services. We offer women the tools they need so they can take control of appearance and resume daily activities with confidence. What Suite HOPE is doing is also groundbreaking. Suite HOPE has a pilot program at an NCI ranked cancer hospital, and will be presented as a “best new practice” at a national and international meeting next year to oncology social and psychosocial workers.

DT: Why do you work in the nonprofit sector?

JD: I started the Suite HOPE concept as a free support group. Through feedback about the need for this type of programming, I decided to turn the concept non-profit so that it can be studied and duplicated. Currently we have two NCI ranked cancer hospitals interested in doing evidence based research studies on this program, which will help us to duplicate this program in other locations. The Dallas philanthropic community is outstanding. Since starting on this path I have met some of the most amazing people who truly want to make this world a better place. There is no end to the things you can accomplish in a community like ours that cares about and champions great causes.

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

JD: Funding and awareness. As a new organization we have made major strides gaining the attentions of some of the largest cancer hospitals and research centers in the US. What we need most is funding and the public awareness about who we are and what we do. Suite HOPE is positioned to bring this platform to a national audience, where we can continue helping to meet the needs of these opportunities and expand our services to the women of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Looking ahead, we are excited to be in talks here in Dallas to expand our services to the teen and young adult community: a population that is especially vulnerable to the sudden changes to appearances.

DT: What is the most memorable moment in your experiences at Suite HOPE?

JD: It is hard to explain the daily rewards of working with these women. I recently shopped for a wig with a woman who had a young child who knew she was looking for a wig but did not realize it was because she had cancer. Imagine shopping while, with childhood excitement, suggestions for outrageous wigs came at us fast and furious; each one crazier than the next! I tried to stay focused on a believable and practical solution. After a few different tries we had what we thought was a really good option. Suddenly this beautiful, innocent human being looked up and said sadly, “But that looks the same as your REAL hair!” In that moment we knew we had the best option.

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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Meet Mike Zizzo, vice president of media relations at Texas Motor Speedway, which is again hosting the luminous extravaganza, Gift of Lights. Zizzo is in his ninth year with TMS, which is known for spectacular events but Zizzo calls the Gift of Lights one of the highlights of the year. A portion of the proceeds from the elaborate light display benefit Speedway Children’s Charities, which is the charity arm of Texas Motor Speedway.    

During his tenure at Texas Motor Speedway, Zizzo created Broadcast Media Center, Pit Stop Park, Tony Stewart “Smoke Show,” 10 Years Strong commemorative book and the Wall of Champions. He has also made it his mission to continue the giving spirit with programs like Speeding To Help community outreach program, and “Speeding To Read” education initiative, among other projects.

Zizzo's contributions and programs have earned him recognization. He is the first two-time recipient of the Public Relations Representative of the Year for NASCAR National Series Tracks, with the most recent honor being awarded for the 2013 season. We wanted to know more about Zizzo and the Gift of Lights at Texas Motor Speedway and he was kind enough to answer a few questions: 

Dawn Tongish: Gift of LIghts is always a favorite holiday tradition at Texas Motor Speedway. Can you describe it for someone who hasn't been to the event? 

Mike Zizzo: All of us enjoy Christmas light displays ranging from our neighborhoods to commercial outlets during the holiday season, but this display takes it to the next level. The Gift of Lights features more than 600 custom LED displays of holiday scenes and characters from elves to snowmen and everything in between. It also has a visually stunning tunnel of lights and an appearance by Santa Claus himself every evening. What makes it unique is that you get to enjoy it from the comfort of your vehicle and take it all in with family and friends as you drive past the various displays on the concourse beneath the frontstretch grandstands and around the outside of the track. If you have friends and family in town during the holidays, it is a unique event to take them to while in the Metroplex and a great deal at $20 per carload.

DT: It is a charity event. Where do the proceeds go? 

MZ: A portion of the proceeds will benefit Speedway Children’s Charities, which is the charity arm of Texas Motor Speedway since it opened in 1997. The Gift of Lights also partners with Toys for Tots, Ronald McDonald House and Boy Scouts of America with portions of the proceeds also benefiting these organizations.

DT: What is your best advice on how to come prepared to enjoy the Gift of Lights? 

MZ: Take the largest vehicle you have so you can enjoy the display with friends and family and it is always fun to bring movie-type snacks to munch on while you enjoy the entertainment. If you have a Christmas CD you can pop in as well will enhance the drive too. You may also want to have an iPad or camera handy to record some of the best displays. And, most of all, don’t forget to stop and visit with Santa!

DT: Texas Motor Speedway is known for supporting surrounding communities and organizations. Can you talk about the good works being done including supporting Speedway Children's Charities?

MZ: Speedway Children’s Charities-Texas Chapter has played a significant role in the lives of children in the four North Texas counties it serves – Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant. To illustrate the impact, one could fill the grandstands of Texas Motor Speedway 16 times with the number of children that have benefited from the charity’s support. The funds raised to help benefit Speedway Children’s Charities -Texas Chapter are generated through special events held throughout the year at Texas Motor Speedway. The most recent (Dec. 2) was the annual Speedway Children’s Charities Tree Lighting & Grant Ceremony at the speedway, where the organization distributed more than $300,000 in grant money. The Tarrant Area Food Bank received a $150,000 Founder’s Grant, which will be utilized to improve the amount of children they can reach with the mobile pantry program. You can visit to learn more about the Texas Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities and its events.

DT: What is your holiday wish for North Texas? 

MZ: That everyone receives race tickets from Santa in their stockings! To be honest, it would be the age-old wish of peace and good will to all. You can never have enough of either not only in North Texas but around the world.

DT: What is on the agenda for race fans at TMS in the new year? Anything new in 2015? 

MZ: For those who missed it this year, there were a few additions that may interest them in making sure to visit Texas Motor Speedway in 2015. We added the world’s largest high-definition LED video board – nicknamed Big Hoss TV – to enhance the fan experience and it has received rave reviews. The folks from the immensely popular A&E reality show “Duck Dynasty” are now part of the fabric of our April race weekend as their company Duck Commander is the title sponsor of our NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on the evening of Saturday, April 11. Willie, Si, Jase, Sadie and the entire Robertson family was on hand this year and plan to be back in full force in 2015 with various fan-related events around the April 9-11 Duck Commander 500 NASCAR doubleheader weekend. Our other two major weekends are the Firestone 500 race weekend on June 5-6 featuring the Verizon IndyCar Series’ only stop in Texas and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and then we culminate with the AAA Texas 500 NASCAR tripleheader on Nov. 6-8. The AAA Texas 500 is part of the Eliminator 8 segment of the new Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup format that debuted this year and it provided plenty of drama and post-race excitement, in particular the melee with Brad Keselowski and Jeff Gordon. We also debuted a new event in 2014 – the Red Bull Air Race World Championship – and the series returns in 2015 on Sept. 26-27 as one of only two stops in the United States.

For more information on "Gift of Lights," please visit or contact Christmas by Zenith at (800) 276-6344.

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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Trisha Murphy Rae

Meet Trisha Murphy Rae, the founder of the nonprofit organization, Christmas Is For Children. Rae began the charity, along with Laura Alston decades ago after reading Christmas letters from underprivledged children that touched her heart. Really, the charity began in her heart years before when Rae saw her own struggling, single mother receive a Christmas basket from strangers. The then-teenager vowed to give back when she grew up. She has lived up to the that teenage goal. Since it's start, CIFC has served more than 43,000 children in several states.

Rae, who is a social worker sees the need each day for not only gifts that will provide joy at Christmas time, but food and clothing items. She is asking for the public's help in donating warm coats, cereal and canned goods this holiday season. We wanted to know more about Rae and the needs of Christmas Is For Children. She was kind enough to answer a few questions:  

Dawn Tongish: Can you tell me about the roots behind Christmas Is For Children? 

Trisha Murphy Rae:  I started Christmas Is For Children in 1991 while in graduate school in NJ. I was pregnant with my first son, and decided to go answer letters in what's called the dead letter box on NYC of children writing letters to Santa from around the country. I started CIFC with my friend Laura Alston, another social worker, and it was from answering four Christmas letters that season from poor families in the New York tri-state area that got us started.

DT: CIFC started in 1991, but the idea came to you years earlier seeing your own mother experience the kindness of strangers. Can you share more on what inspired your will to give back when you were just a child? 

TMR: My mother was a single mother of 5 kids and we were really struggling once she got divorced. My mother had helped in our local church years earlier putting together food baskets for families in need during the holidays. Now this season we would be on that list. From that one food basket as a 15-year old teenager watching the tears of gratitude from my mother receive that food basket, changed my life forever. CIFC was born that night in my heart as a teenager. I knew at 15 I would do something when I got older to give back.

DT: How many families has CIFC helped since it began? 

TMR: CIFC is now 23 years old, we have served over 43,000 children in 3 states and we expect to serve over 2500 children this year alone.

DT: Each year you must witness so many tears of joy from grateful families. What touches you the most? 

TMR: It is hard to say because there are so many stories. We have seen joy and gratitude of children receiving bikes, coats, sneakers and even last week new eye glasses. It is wonderful beyond belief. 

DT: What are the needs of CIFC in 2014 and beyond?  

TMR: As a social worker I see people in need every day. We need cereal, peanut butter and jelly, pasta, canned goods and pancake mix donated to the Southlake and Westlake stations for our food drive. We will be delivering 1000 food baskets on Dec 20th to area charities throughout the metroplex. Donors can also drop off new coats, barbies, board games, Legos, trucks, cars, baby dolls and any other unwrapped children's toy to the station that they would like to help us make this a great Christmas for the 1500 needy kids we adopt at Christmas time. 

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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Richard Foster

Meet Richard Foster, co-founder of S and F Athletes, a nonprofit organization based in Arlington committed to creating well-rounded student athletes through community mentoring programs. Foster and co-founder Henry Stewart -- used the first initials of their last names "S and F" to begin the program because they both saw a need for role models in economically challenged areas of the metroplex.

With more than 25 years of experience working with youth, Foster brings a vast background to S and F Athletes. He has worked with children across a broad spectrum including special education, as a school suspension teacher for the Irving ISD and in juvenile detention in Tarrant County. Foster also spent 12 years coaching football, basketball and track. We wanted to know more about the passion fueling Foster's desire to change young lives and he was kind enough to answer a few questions:  

Dawn Tongish: Please begin by telling us about S and F Athletes.

Richard Foster: S and F Athletes is a 501(3)(c) nonprofit organization and was created with the belief and commitment that every child deserves the opportunity to learn, regardless of economic disadvantages. We co-founded Skills and Faith Athletes to serve students, parents, schools, and the community through a comprehensive, research-based mentoring program. We developed this unique and supportive mentoring model based on the student’s developmental needs in school, community and family.

DT: What are your duties at S and F Athletes?

RF: I am the CEO and co-founder and Henry Stewart is the COO and co-founder.

DT: How did you become involved and why are you so passionate about the work being done? 

RF: The original plan was to help increase the number of student-athletes to succeed in college.That led to us mentoring student-athletes in becoming well-rounded students, instead of just being any athlete. After years of study, research, applied practice, collaborating with school administration and faculty, we felt that all students can benefit from mentoring. We took a couple words that began with the first initials of our last name. With that, Skill and Faith Athletes was born. Skill is your ability, faith is belief in your skill and athletes are apart of a team.

DT: Why do you believe a mentor can make such a big difference in a child's life?

RF: Every child needs that fatherly figure in his/her life. They need someone to lead them along the right path. Unfortunately, too many kids grow up without mentors in their life. We believe that a mentor is destined to set kids up for success.

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

RF: It went from out of our own pocket, to working the concession stand at TCU Football games and AT&T Stadium.

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

RF: Our biggest need is to increase our staff (full and part) and have a location that we can operate out of.

DT: What is the most memorable moment in your experiences at S and F Athletes?

RF: When we where approved to implement our mentoring program in our first school.

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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Tia Wynne and Jamie Singer

The Trains at NorthPark is considered the most elaborate toy train exhibit in Texas and this year the celebrated display will mark its 27th year in Dallas and its 16th year at NorthPark Center. This massive work of moving art wouldn't take shape without the tireless efforts of two volunteers, Jamie Singer and Tia Wynne, co-chairs of The Trains at NorthPark. Singer is a community leader, who often uses her marketing and events consulting experience to shape fundraisers beginning to end. She has chaired many events including the Dallas Museum of Art's Affair of the Art and The Family Place's Partners with various vignettes.

Tia Wynne is a professional real estate agent with Allie Beth Allman and Associates, who also lends her time to plenty of community events. She is the co-chair of the Cattle Baron's Ball for 2015. Visitors to The Trains at NorthPark will again see the trains rolling across 1,600 feet of track on a journey across America as seen through Santa’s workshop with various vignettes. New this year is the Perot Museum, which will be featured in the Dallas cityscape. The attraction rolls through January 4, 2015 and benefits The Ronald McDonald House of Dallas. We wanted to know more about Singer and Wynne and both women were kind enough to answer a few questions:   

Dawn Tongish: You are the co-chairs for The Trains at NorthPark. Why is this attraction so popular each year? 

Jamie Singer: The Trains at NorthPark is a sign that the holidays are here as well as the spirit of Dallas’ generosity. The children love to come see the trains going through a journey across America. Many of our sponsors have also generously donated various landmarks. 

Tia Wynne: The Trains at NorthPark is an event that little children and their families love and look forward to attending because it is part of the spirit of holidays. Children and adults love to see all of the different city scales and local attractions.

DT: The Trains at NorthPark helps to shape holiday memories for so many people. What does it take to make the project happen? 

JS: It takes a love and passion from many volunteers every year!! I have personally volunteered when I was in high school. The Trains at NorthPark has become a staple to the Dallas holiday scene.

TW: It takes amazing leadership and organization from the staff at the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas (the nonprofit that organizes the exhibit and benefits from it), the support of our amazing sponsors as well as help from our tremendous volunteers.

DT: Why are each of you so passionate about The Trains at NorthPark? Tia, it seems that you have made this a family affair getting your children in on the project? 

TW: I feel extremely blessed to have two healthy young children and can only imagine what families with sick children must go through. The Ronald McDonald House is such a welcoming and warm place for these families in their time of need. My kids have enjoyed going to the exhibit for the past seven years.  I hope this year they will begin to have a better understanding of what The Trains at NorthPark really does for our community.

JS: The proceeds go to such a worthy cause, the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas. Yes, I have volunteered since high school. I was a House volunteer when I went to Episcopal School o f Dallas.  Then at Southern Methodist University in my nonprofit marketing class, I picked The Trains at Northpark as my class project.  During my time at Junior League of Dallas, one of my placements was at the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas. So this is definitely a full circle moment for me to chair The Trains!

DT: Can visitors expect anything new this year? 

TW: Tia: Yes, thanks to a generous donor, we have the Perot Museum as a new addition to the Dallas skyline. The exhibit has a Colorado Rocky Mountain theme with trees and four-foot elves hanging from the trees!

JS: We will also be selling plenty of fun new goodies to benefit the House, like conductor hats and cookies, so be sure not to miss them!

DT: Can each of you share your best memory about being involved in The Trains at NorthPark? 

JS: Mine is actually a special memory from the House when I was in high school. A boy had a successful brain surgery and was leaving the House. The parents were checking out and told the boy to smile and say goodbye, but he wouldn’t. It wasn’t until his parents looked away that he gave a huge smile and waved goodbye on his own terms. We all just laughed and smiled back!

TW: I have a feeling that this year will be my best memory of the event. It has been a great year! 

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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Victoria Snee

Meet Victoria Snee, director of marketing and public relations for NorthPark Center in Dallas. Snee is also the shopping center's fashion and beauty spokesperson and often gives advice on various television and radio outlets, as well as in print. Before stepping into her current executive role, Snee worked in the Dallas media for nearly 10 years in both radio and television. She was the morning co-host on 102.9 NOW for five years and covered entertainment and lifestyle news as a reporter with Tribune-owned KDAF-TV. Snee covered major red carpet movie premieres, fashion events and awards shows around the world. She interviewed actors, musicians and various celebrities.

In 2009, D Magazine named Snee one of 10 Most Beautiful Women in Dallas. Snee shares her beauty and fashion advice in a book titled, The Beauty Buzz. We wanted to talk with Snee about the upcoming holiday shopping season and the hottest trends for buying on a budget, no matter who is on your list. She was kind enough to answer a few questions: 

Dawn Tongish: As director of media relations at NorthPark Center, what kind of holiday shopping season are you anticipating? 

Victoria Snee: I think this holiday shopping season will be amazing! There are so many fantastic items already in stores. I think many people learned the hard way last year with packages not making it in time for Christmas because of weather delays, that online shopping isn’t always the best way to go. I can’t tell you how many people we saw at NorthPark Center on Christmas Eve scrambling to buy gifts because their online shipping orders hadn’t arrived. No one wants an empty tree on Christmas morning!

DT: Can you describe what shoppers can expect in terms of new experiences/stores this season at NorthPark Center? 

VS: We are so excited this year about our new art installation “Scattered Light” outside in CenterPark before Thanksgiving. It is a spectacular installation by renowned artist Jim Campbell. It’s a three-dimensional work which was recently on display in Hong Kong that features 1,800 dangling bulbs flickering into shadowy figures. It is truly remarkable and unlike anything North Texas has seen before! We also have had several new stores opening their doors at NorthPark this year including Mulberry, Microsoft, Arhaus, Agent Provocateur, Pirch, Robert Graham, Tesla, Tory Burch, Spanx and Lorna Jane.

DT: What is the best way for a bargain hunter to prepare for Black Friday shopping? 

VS: My best advice is to make a plan. Know who you need to buy for and what you are looking to purchase for them. I would scope out things early. Stop by stores before Black Friday and get a “lay of the land.” Talk to the store associates and managers about what special sales they will be offering on Black Friday. If there is a particular item you are looking for, ask them about it. Chances are they will give you the scoop if it is going to be marked down! I always say, make friends with the people who work at your favorites stores. It’s the best way to get insider information.

DT: You are just the person to ask about style. What are the fashion trends this holiday buying season? 

VS: It’s all about a cape this season. I think they are so chic and flattering and look great on everyone. You should definitely try staying warm with a gorgeous cape this season. Other great fashion trends for holiday are faux fur and vegan leather accents on skirts, jackets, shirts and pants. Over the knee boots continue to be a great look for fall/winter. And, of course, embellishments on tops and dresses always seem festive and right for the season.

DT: What do you think will be the go-to gifts in terms of kids? … gifts for women? … gifts for guys? 

VS: For the kids, you can’t go wrong with anything “Frozen” for little girls and Legos for the boys. A beauty or fragrance gift set for women is an easy go-to gift. Handbags and wallets are another perfect choice. And for the guys, a black leather jacket is a must for any man. They will also get great use out of a nice piece of luggage or a work bag.

DT: You are the author of the book, The Beauty Buzz.  What beauty products will be hot this year for stocking stuffers? 

VS: BareMinerals has a really cute 6-pack lip gloss set ($26) called “Kissing Booth” that is a perfect stocking stuffer. L’Occitane’s Hand Indulgences set ($28) is also great for the cold, winter weather.  They are shea butter hand creams that come in a collection of three wonderful scents. I also adore anything from fresh. I especially love fresh’s sugar legends lip conditioners ($55) and Skincare Idols set ($58) that comes with a cleanser, face oil, lip balm and face mask.

DT: Do you have a favorite holiday memory? 

VS: My favorite holiday memory is always Christmas morning with my older sister when we were young. My mother would dress us in matching pajamas and as soon as we woke up, we would run as fast as we could from our bedrooms to the living room where our Christmas stockings hung. I always loved opening gifts from my stocking first because it was like finding small little treasures.

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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Angela Brumbaugh

Meet Angela Brumbaugh, a Texas-based writer who has penned nearly a dozen books for children under the name Angela Winegar. The books vary in theme, but there are life lessons that run throughout the literary works that seek to inspire children to work hard, bring passion to each endeavor and never give up despite life's struggles. Brumbaugh also puts her creative use of words to work as a lyricist and songwriter. Her song, Between Black and White, was selected and incorporated on Celeste Savoie’s album titled Exposed. Brumbaugh's poems have been featured on blogs and magazines and even presented as gifts to distinguished community leaders.

Brumbaugh is also an accomplished actor and model with the Kim Dawson Agency in Dallas. She has appeared in numerous commerical, TV/Film and documentary projects, along with various print campaigns. Angela lives in the DFW-area with her husband, son and dog. We wanted to know more about her her creative inspiration and she was kind enough to answer a few questions:

Dawn Tongish: Please begin by telling us about your children's books? 

Angela Brumbaugh: I wrote A Very Backwards “What-If Book” specifically to encourage children to challenge norms in our society in a very fun and whimsical way.  The question “What-If” not only gets children actively engaged in the story, but it also has the reader predicting outcomes with no right or wrong answer.  This creates a learning environment that fosters creativity without boundaries.  Several schools around the DFW area have implemented “What If” special activity days.  They include FWISD, Ashley’s Cedar Hill, Pantego Christian, Lancaster, Primrose, Kinderplatz, and many more. You can find my books at Amazon.  


What If You Walked On Your Hands Instead Of Your Feet? Would Your Gloves Be Your Shoes As You Walked Down The Street? “What If” days include:

1)     Writing Your Own What-If

2)     Kids Wearing Clothing Backwards

3)     Kids Doing Homework Upside Down  

The “Music Man” series focuses on children discovering their musical gifts after they meet a magical music man.  The Music Man guides them through the ups and downs of choosing an instrument and offers them advice they will remember long after he’s gone.  Currently, there are five books in the series and many more on the way. “The Adventures of Grinn and Barrett” – This is the story about an unlikely friendship between a dog and donkey.  After some time, the two learn to see the best qualities in each other and become best friends. “Missy’s Memoirs” – This is a chapter book that focuses on an amazing dog’s very unique perception of the world around her.

DT: Why did you decide to write for young readers?  

AB: The main reason I chose writing books for children is to create something that would not only entertain and teach important life lessons, but to also inspire kids to keep reading.

DT: What is the message you hope to share in your books for young readers? 

AB: The messages and themes all vary, but they share some basic commonalities such as work hard, follow your heart, learn from others, and to never ever give up.

DT: With all of the video games and technical devices today, children can be pulled away from reading? Does that concern you?

AB: I do wonder what today’s generation will gain or lose from having an abundance of entertainment options at their fingertips. On one hand, I see the downside, but on the other I see that kids now have more options to learn.  I look at it this way, people who enjoy watching actors perform live will always go to the plays and those who like to watch television programs will always choose television.  It’s the same concept with reading.  Those who love getting lost in a book will always love getting lost in a book.  Those who do not enjoy reading will find another way to learn or understand a topic.

DT: What is your best advice to parents on how to keep their children interested in reading? 

AB: The best advice I can give to parents is read with your children at all ages.  When they become teenagers, continue to read what they are reading.  I’m not saying sit down and read to your teenager, but be interested in what they are reading.  I know day to day it can seem impossible to add one more task to your plate, but it keeps the children interested if you can ask them relevant questions about the book they are reading. 

DT: You recently have experienced success as a songwriter. Can you share your exciting news? 

AB: Yes, a song I wrote “Between Black and White” was selected to be on Canadian Artist Celeste Savoie’s album titled Exposed.  The meaning behind the song is very personal and I am proud that it was produced and released by such an amazing group of artists. My poems have also been featured on blogs and magaines. I wrote one poem to honor WWII Veteran Delbert Belton. 

DT: You are also an actor/model with the Kim Dawson Agency in Dallas. Can you talk about some of your past projects and potential ones on the horizon? 

AB: My past projects include portraying Jackie Kennedy on the Discovery and National Geographic documentaries, Dave and Buster’s Commercials, Beneful Advertisement (a favorite because of the amazing dogs and puppies), Samsung Tablets, Zales print, AAFES, HEB and many more. Only time will tell about future opportunities. 

DT: You are so creative. To who or what do you credit all of this talent? 

AB: I believe wholeheartedly my abilities as a writer are God-given, and that every experience good and bad has made me the writer I am today. 

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.


Meet Gretchen Morgan, a big supporter of Play It Forward Southlake which was founded by her brother Mack Morgan along with two other former Southlake Carroll High School athletes, Preston LeJeune and Kenny Hill. The nonprofit community service program collects gently used athletic equipment and refurbishes the goods before distributing the equipment to children who can't afford to buy sports gear. The group is a branch of Play It Forward USA founded in Keller and supported in partnership by The Pro Players Foundation. We wanted to know more about Play It Forward Southlake and Morgan was kind enough to answer a few questions: 

Dawn Tongish: Please begin by telling us about Play It Forward Sports Southlake.  

Gretchen Morgan: Play it Forward Southlake is a student athlete run organization that collects new and gently used sports equipment and gets it to ‘needy’ athletes in our area, country, and around the world.

DT: How did you become involved with Play It Forward Sports Southlake, and why are you so passionate about the work being done with the charity group? 

GM: Our group was started by my brother Mack Morgan in his freshmen year of high school at Carroll in 2009 along with his friends Kenny Hill and Preston LeJeune. I’m passionate because I realize how fortunate I am with regards to having all of my ‘sports’ equipment needs met easily, and I realize there are lots of kids out there that can’t play the sport they love because their family can’t afford it.  I enjoy helping kids in need, and my parents raised me to try and be kind and look out for those in need. A lot of times kids want to play sports, but can't because it is expensive to "gear up". Does this sort of charity help them to be involved?  - Oh yes, that’s our mission statement, “Because no child should go without so that they can play the sport they love” - We realize that sports does a huge amount of confidence building, leadership skills, teamwork skills and much more.

DT: Do you think seeing young people like yourself and athletes like Kenny Hill involved in charity work, inspires other young people to give of their time to nonprofit work?  

GM:  Yes, It definitely helps - Kenny wears his Play it Forward Southlake bracelet to this day on the football field and off the field! He always has and is a huge ‘active’ member today!  His little brother Marcus is a member of our chapter now too! It’s great publicity for us, of what we do and helps us find beneficiaries and kids in need.

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

GM:  We don’t have much to pay for, and Pro Players Foundation looks out for us, with our needs, and our parents have ‘donated’ lots of money  and stuff too to keep us running, but a lot of businesses help our cause, too!

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

GM: We always need equipment, any type of balls work well, kids can always do something with a ball,  some organizations need big ticket items, like soccer goals, basketball goals etc.  Cash donations are always nice too, so we can buy NEW equipment too! 

DT: What is the most memorable moment in your experiences at Play It Forward Sports Southlake?  

GM: Donating to the kids in Dallas last summer, the Pro Players Foundation and the Dallas Mavericks renovated a community/center gym in East Dallas, and we all went and delivered, got to feed the kids lunch and got to meet and play with the kids, along with the Dallas Mav Maniacs, that was fun! I also loved donated and playing with the kids of the Miracle League in Arlington back in 2010, when their facility had a fire, we collected loads of ‘baseball’ equipment and then got to go down to Arlington to be ‘buddies’ with the players!  It was awesome!

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.