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An animal lover, Destiny raised hundreds of dollars to donate to Patriot Paws (for Veterans to have service dogs) on her birthday this past year and donates to the In-Sync Exotics Big Cat Sanctuary in Wylie that houses aging Lions and Tigers. She currently is the mother to Spooky, a Black cat, her only housemate after she lost her husband of 12 years. His death created a void in her life and she found herself afraid to be alone. Then she discovered a new family, and a new purpose at the Academy of Combative Warrior Arts (A.C.W.A.). She says, “A.C.W.A. have given me confidence and the courage to continue moving forward.”

Darts Champion, High School Physics Teacher, Now Teaches a New Course: Self Defense

When Destiny Wagner became a widow at 41 years old, she suddenly felt both alone and unprepared, and unable to defend herself should she ever have to.

A small town girl living and working in the big city of Dallas – and now Plano – she was born in Grand Prairie, grew up in Oak Cliff and attended junior and senior high school in Waxahachie, where she attended Waxahachie High and “did just about everything: I was on the volleyball and tennis teams, editor of yearbook for two years, Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Art Club, Philosophy Club, Science & Math Club, Student Council, NHS, Interact, Advisory Council and I “Lettered” in Academics (top 2%) all four years.” She graduated 4th in her class.  

A huge Harry Potter fan, she also has a life-long love for the Dallas Mavericks. Her father had season tickets to the games and taught her how to “sneak past security” to meet the players to get autographs. She met all the 80’s greats: Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Dr. J., Kareem, Bill Walton,  Derek Harper still recognizes her when she runs into him at events around town.  

She attended the University of Dallas after high school, where she played soccer and was in the physics national honor society and was President of the Society of Physics Students. She began her student teaching at Nimitz High School in Irving in late fall of 1997 but was soon at teaching at Bishop Lynch High School in January of 1998 when a job became suddenly available there. She graduated Cum Laude from UD and stayed on at BL for over a decade. She earned a second degree, a Master in Humanities 2002, graduating Magna Cum Laude while working as a physics teacher at Bishop Lynch High School.  


She met her husband John when they got partnered up in a blind draw darts tournament.  They went on to form a team with friends and were DDA City Champions. Their love of darts and travel was the beginning of a friendship that turned into a wonderful marriage and they travelled all over the US for the next 12 years on Destiny’s vacations and summers off from teaching. They took road trips during those school breaks and made it to 46 of the 50 states. Destiny took a new teaching job working at John Paul II High School in Plano in 2013 to be closer to their home and the two enjoyed their fun life together.

When John lost his appetite, it wasn’t long before he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It was the toughest time of her life. “The hardest thing I’ve ever done was holding my husband in my arms as he drew his last breath. We had never spent a day apart in nearly 17 years.” John died of pancreatic cancer in February of 2017, five weeks after his diagnosis.


After he died, her in-laws took Destiny on a trip to Oregon and Washington. This completed her goal of visiting all the continental states.  Destiny was mournful after John’s passing and felt at total loss on how to protect herself. 

She got through that tough time with the support of friends, family, and coworkers along with therapy and says, “I wish there wasn’t such a taboo on mental and emotional health issues.” It was her therapist that encouraged her to get out of her “safe” zone at home and try something new.


Destiny says, “The thing that really made the most difference was contacting the Academy of Combative Warrior Arts (A.C.W.A.) and taking advantage of their free trial class. Justin Everman is the founder and CEO, and his customer service impressed me from the initial phone call.  After my first class, I knew I had found where I was meant to be.” 

Before long she’d found her passion: helping others to defend themselves. She explains, “The welcoming environment and positive atmosphere that Justin has created is a testament to who I am today. Everyone is welcome, and there are no egos. The other students and fellow instructors have become not only my closest friends, but also my family.”


In her first class she was learning “how to cover” and said her instructor, Sean Wolford, was being exceptionally patient with her because “I had tons of questions and kept messing up; he was really encouraging and didn't make me feel stupid.  I signed up that night for a "10-pack class" summer special.” 

In one of her early classes she was getting frustrated that she wasn't picking up how to do a move quickly enough.  Her instructor, Lauren Hidalgo, “has amazing intuition and reads people incredibly well.  She could tell I was frustrated and asked if I was ok and had any questions.  Not being able to articulate, I said I was fine and kept going.  She stopped me, looked me in the eyes, and said, ‘It's ok.  This is a safe place.  What's going on?” Destiny explained about the loss of her husband, her bouts with anxiety and the pressure she felt being alone and on her own for the first time. Voicing her fears aloud helped her, and her inner healing began.


Destiny initially joined the Instructor Program in November 2017 to learn the skills and techniques of personal self-defense at a deeper and faster level. In May 2018, she got sidelined due to a spiral fractured leg. “The other instructors shuttled me to classes so I could still be part of the team even if I couldn’t fully participate.” Seeing classes from a different perspective made her want to teach the material and led her down a new path: to becoming a certified instructor and—eventually--owning her own company, Defend Your Destiny. “I work with teenagers every day at my ‘real’ job,” Destiny points out, “and I saw a huge need for people to learn self-defense before an incident occurs.”


Additionally, she’s involved doing a daily routine of a “slow flow” meditative movement, similar to tai chi but with A.C.W.A. mechanics. It was developed by Aaron Baulch and Dustin Rippetoe of the A.C.W.A. Tulsa branch. It’s made such a difference in her own well-being that Destiny has incorporated it into her business as one of the things she teaches in addition to self-defense. She says she suffered from anxiety after her husband died, and it was this “slow flow” movement that steadied her.  

Now she is a certified self-defense instructor through A.C.W.A. With her two decades of experience teaching high school students, she has the patience – and sense of humor – to help even the most reticent student learn the techniques necessary to stay safe. Destiny hopes to help others like herself who have gone through life changing events and high school graduates going off to college who need to be ready in any situation.


Destiny says, “Being a part of A.C.W.A. didn’t just change my life - it saved my life.  I have clarity and a purpose. My entire identity was wrapped up as part of a couple. After my husband died, I considered the day a win if I got out of bed and wore clothes other than pajamas. Now, in just a few years, I am confidently standing on my own, consistently moving forward, and in a real and tangible position to help others.” 

One way she has helped was to bring awareness to the need for organ donation after her A.C.W.A. friend Dustin Rippetoe needed a kidney transplant. Destiny helped raise funds for his operation. He’s now on the road to recovery.


She also is quick to volunteer to help animals at local shelters and has volunteered alongside her John Paul II High School coworkers at the Plano Food Bank. 

And while most people who know Destiny recognize that she is a huge Harry Potter and Dallas Mavericks fan, her new focus on self-defense may come as a surprise to them. After a few tough years, she is now happier than she’s ever been, stronger mentally and physically, and says, “This is the first time I feel like I really and truly LOVE my life!”


To learn more about self-defense, see or http:/ to attend a seminar on July 28th.


"To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift."  -Steve Prefontaine

Judy Porter, MBA, is a Dallas resident who writes stories about local heroes, non-profits and small businesses. Contact her at: 

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Oak Cliff Women in Business met June 19 in the new B Brewery LTD thanks to Summer Garrett (far right) who saved the day by asking the new Manager, Jenny Benningfield, if the group could congregate there after their June site canceled. Summer had just moved into the apartments above, but took a chance on the new community being agreeable. Twins Becky Moffett and Vicky Gouge lead the group along with Cindy Hawkins, CPA, and Summer.

Heritage Oak Cliff and Dwell with Dignity are just two Nonprofits Summer Garrett volunteers with - and she invites YOU to join her!

Summer Garrett works all year long. 

And when she’s not working to get folks into their first home, she’s volunteering throughout the Dallas community. 

Last month, when the Oak Cliff Women in Business group had a sponsor for their monthly meeting cancel, Summer flew into action and asked the manager in B Brewery LTD on the first floor of the new Novel Bishop Arts Apartment complex if she would host the event. Jenny Benningfield agreed to have the women meet there, and even with dire threats of softball sized hail, forty businesswomen attended along with some residents who stopped in—and stayed. A near disaster turned into a wonderful evening of networking and new friendships. It was a win-win for all.


Which is sort of Summer’s life-long motto.


Born in Beaumont, Texas, Summer grew up in Silsbee with three brothers: two older twins Neal and Jeremy and little brother Jerrett. Surrounded by boys, Summer wanted to become a racecar driver, the first female NFL referee and in her teenage years, a guitar rock star. 

At Silsbee High School Summer played tennis, was on the honor roll and was president of the National Art Honor Society. She graduated from Lamar University with a BBA in Marketing, while working full time so that she could pay her tuition each semester, and graduate with no student loans – quite a feat. She’s thinking about earning an MBA but laughs, “Who has time?”


After finishing college, Summer worked for Southwestern Bell Yellow Pages in Houston selling Yellow Page ads.  But now she has the job she was born to do: mortgage banking. “I love helping people!” Summer says emphatically. “Buying a home is the biggest financial purchase anyone will ever make. It’s scary and stressful. I like being a real person they can lean on, to ask questions, to voice concerns, the person they know is in their corner and can listen to them vent, talk them off a ledge, and grab a drink with.” 

Summer says her clients become her family and being a mortgage professional is more than being some sort of banker or financial advisor in a sterile high-rise. She prefers to be genuine and approachable. Dog lovers love her, because she’s quick to say her dog Hunter is her world, and at 16, Hunter is also a two-year cancer survivor.


On the human side, Summer says she tends to like the big guys. “Meeting Dallas Cowboy Jason Witten has been one of my favorite moments!  I’ve been lucky enough to have my photo taken with him twice at two different events at his Score Foundation fundraisers!” SCORE provides no-charge mentoring and education to more than 350,000 small business owners each year. Summer is proud to be one of hundreds of volunteers who help more entrepreneurs to thrive. Making a positive impact on her community, city and the world is key to Summer’s life.  

She is also involved with Dwell with Dignity, an organization made up of volunteers that designs and installs complete home interiors for families who desperately need an environment that will support health and wellness.  The members empower families to lead their best lives and to thrive in a safe, functional, and beautiful environment.  


The Heritage Oak Cliff, formerly the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League, is another of her passions.  For over 40 years, Heritage OC produces the annual Oak Cliff Home Tour. The proceeds are used to grant awards to member neighborhoods for conservation, beautification and preservation projects that enhance the character and charm of the area.  

And although she has the natural good looks of Mattel’s Blonde Barbie Doll, Summer has a love for something that conjures up a more gothic image. She loves all kinds of music, but especially heavy metal. “Being the only blonde chick at a concert in a sea of black hair and black fingernails is my jam!” She even dabbles a bit in playing guitar.


While Summer’s life looks like it could be all sunny, she says she’s had tough time too, like when her dad was in the hospital in ICU for 45 days after a massive quadruple bypass heart surgery. “Being five hours away from all of my family was so hard--when someone you love is sick and you can’t be there for them.” Finally, After many prayers, her dad woke up and has spent the last six years recovering. 

When Summer first moved to the metroplex, she lived in a townhouse in Addison for eight years, “Where I think everyone starts when they first move to Dallas!”  Then she moved to a high rise in Downtown, and was on the 17th floor, “The greatest apartment ever with the best views.” Missing a neighborhood feel, she moved to Uptown in West Village and lived there for the next five years. 


Finally she decided to take a stab at buying a home, went to Oak Cliff in Wynnewood North. She purchased “An amazing midcentury home, remodeled it, stayed for a year and a half and had some neighbors who fell in love with my home and my fabulous mountain of a backyard, so I sold it to them!” 

Loving the Oak Cliff community so much, she chose to stay. She moved into the new Novel Apartments in Bishop Arts and couldn’t be happier. She’s made it her home, and plans to stay there and keep helping homeowners refinance and maintain their financial goals, while helping new buyers purchase the home of their dreams. She can also help a home buyer who wants to renovate their existing home or one they are purchasing with a special loan that allows funds for updating and repairs to a house. Summer used this type of loan when she purchased her Wynnewood North house and immediately updated both bathrooms.


Over the next decades, as her business booms, Summer hopes to hire an amazing assistant who allows her to spend more time with her clients and realtors who take care of her and sends her referrals.  She also would love to stay in the Oak Cliff Community, be married to “an amazing husband who holds my heart,” and have her sweet dog Hunter by her side.  

And maybe she can indulge in her love of Rock ‘N Roll at a local Karaoke night – possibly right there below her home, at B Brewed LTD. She can invite her Oak Cliff Women in Business friends to join her – after all, they’ve already been there, thanks to her. It’ll be a musical win-win for all.



For more information on the nonprofit group Oak Cliff Women in Business, see the group's Facebook page or contact Summer directly at:


Judy Porter, MBA, write stories about local heroes, nonprofits and small businesses in the Dallas Metroplex. Contact her at or Porter People PR on Facebook.

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PATRIOT LOVE AF Sergeant Gene Dooleya nd Will Doug Air Force Sergeant Gene Dooley joined Businessman and Pharmacist Will Douglas in Pilot Point for the kick off event of the "Patriot Love From..." program. Will grew up watching superheroes, and now he honors veterans–-real heroes--by flying a flag in his businesses to remember them. Monday was the first “Patriot Love From” event held in Pilot Point, Texas, where resident Lynn Maher lives. Her husband, Ted, came up with the idea ten years ago.

As Flag Day Approaches, "Patriot Love From" Flies a Flag for local  Individual Veterans, First Responders, to Honor Them Year-round

Growing up, Will Douglas wanted to be a Ninja Turtle. Once he realized it wasn’t practical -- or possible – to be that kind of superhero, he became a pharmacist.

Now he’s the owner of two independent pharmacies, and the first business owner to agree to fly a flag for a veteran with the “Patriot Love From” organization which honors veterans by flying an American flag in a local business for each. Pilot Point resident Lynn Maher is picking up the program ten years after the first flag was flown. The idea came from her late husband Ted, who, like both Lynn and Will, was a success in business but never served in the military. Ted passed away before the program got off the ground.

A sign with a veteran’s name and military branch is located under each flag. The goal is to remember and honor local heroes.

Will says he is not a hero, but he IS working to make the world a better place and flying a flag for veterans is just the beginning. Like Lynn, he hopes to see the program spread throughout the state and nation, putting our military and first responders in the limelight.

Born in Duncan, Oklahoma, Will grew up in Marietta and graduated from Marietta High School where he played basketball, ran track, and was a member of the National Honor Society and Student Council.

He attended the University of Oklahoma, where he was President of the Pre-Pharmacy Association, a YMCA basketball coach, a High School Leadership Conference Group Leader and emcee, and a Camp Crimson group Leader.

After receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies, he attended The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, to become a pharmacist. During his time in pharmacy school he was a leader in many areas including Chapter President of the National Community Pharmacists Association; Make a Wish Chair; College of Pharmacy mentor; College of Pharmacy Ambassador; and a leader in four areas of the Health Sciences Center Student Association including Class Senator and Community Service Chair.

Growing up, Will said his role model was his uncle. He “was the only person I knew who fit my idea of success. He was a pharmacist and owned several pharmacies in Duncan, OK. Having a narrow perspective, I believed that the only way I could be successful was if I did the same.” Will landed a job with Walgreens in Dallas but knew he wanted to run his own business one day.


In a few short years Will worked to put together financing to invest in his community through independent pharmacies in areas where Texans need them. Crimson Care Pharmacy Group was created to ensure independently owned community pharmacies survive and thrive in a changing healthcare world as they face the challenges of large pharmacy chain expansion, buyouts, and customer demand for the latest technology. 

Will is the owner of two independent pharmacies, recognizing that there are small towns in north Texas where people need medicine but may be geographically far from it. Will visits each weekly, and when he’s not working, he’s quick to help in his community. He says he often drives through south Dallas and is sad to see people roaming aimlessly, often with a bottle in their hand. He wants to help anyone out of work who wants a job to find decent employment.

“There is so much undeveloped land there south of downtown,” he says, “It could house warehouses and factories and provide jobs for those unemployed workers who currently have no hope.” Job training would be key, and he’d like to match current companies with the folks in the south Dallas area who want to work. He’s hoping to network with local agencies already attempting to get the unemployed and underemployed working and is willing to help. His fund-raising skills began in college.

While at OU, he was working at a fund raiser and got a $6 donation from another OU student, Adrian Peterson, who set the NCAA freshman rushing record with 1,925 yards in the 2004 season. Peterson was drafted seventh overall in the 2007 NFL draft. “He almost broke my hand when he shook it,” Will remembered with a laugh. He was already a Peterson fan but even more so after that encounter.

In Dallas a few years later, Will admits he was truly star struck as he was walking out of Hotel ZaZa and met Dallas Cowboys great Michael Irvin. “My brain immediately transformed from a 30-year-old adult to a 10-year-old boy’s watching the Cowboys on Sunday.”

Chosen as a Dallas Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 awardee Will says he has no special talent, just an honest desire to be successful. While in pharmacy school he often felt like a “round peg and pharmacy school was a square hole.” An excellent high school and college student, pharmacy school presented a true challenge. “For the first time in my life I was failing tests and classes. I almost quit multiple times but fortunately I had friends and family that talked me out of it.”


Accepted into a leadership tract his second year, he hit his stride. “It became something within the school that I could thrive at. For someone who had always been a high achiever that was important.” 

After graduating from pharmacy school, he moved to Dallas with a purpose: to make it his forever home. He lived in The Village, then Uptown, and recently bought a home in Oak Lawn. He has family members living in Devonshire and Garland. 

Ten years from now he knows he’ll still live here, and possibly own another pharmacy or two. He’ll fly a flag for a veteran on his future businesses, too, and says, “Hopefully, I will have made some sort of lasting impact for folks living here who are less fortunate.”


Spoken like a real hero.


You can learn more about how to fly a flag for a veteran by checking out this Facebook Page: Flying Flags of Patriot Love From or contacting Will at or text for more info: 972-880-5571.

Will Douglas, Pharm. D.

Crimson Care Pharmacy Group

Dallas, TX





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Newly Installed board members of the Altrusa International of Downtown Dallas Service Club enjoyed an evening of friendship and awards at the Lakewood Country Club Tuesday, May 21. L-R: Tamika Jones Abendroth, Naomi Ayala, Fay Hamden, Judy Porter, Kathleen Scott, Tena Callahan, Michelle Kubits, Karen Washington and Debbie Tull - President 2019-2020.

The BEST way to find yourself is in Service to Others – Ghandi

It is more important to be of service than be successful – Robert Kennedy

Everybody can be Great because ANYBODY can serve - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

These were the inspiring quotes that began the 2019 Altrusa International of Downtown Dallas Club’s Annual Meeting and Awards Banquet held at the Lakewood Country Club Tuesday evening. May 21. 

The service club has helped raised over $3 million dollars since its inception in 1982 to help women and children in crisis. The current 65 club members consist of Attorneys, judges, CPAs, MBAs and other business executives. Club Vice President of Membership, Attorney Tamika Jones-Abendroth, was the mistress of ceremonies for the evening.

Outgoing Club President Judy Porter, a Lake Highlands resident, was awarded the “Altrusan of the Year” honor by the club’s members for her year of work with the club. She joined Altrusa in 1990 when she was the Volunteer Coordinator of Bryan's House, a home for children with HIV.

Porter was also surprised to earn the “Superstar” award from the Communications Committee for her year-long commitment to publicizing the club’s goal of quality community outreach and service to the city of Dallas. A former high school teacher and coach, Porter runs a PR firm that highlights local heroes, small businesses, non-profits and students in the metroplex. She has been a member of the Oak Cliff Lions Club, Dallas Deanery of Catholic women and has been an Altrusan for 29 years.

Fifth-year Altrusa Club member Monica Urbaniak of Lakewood received the Superstar Award for Service, having volunteered at most of the club'c monthly service projects and contributing to the committee meetings with her ideas and insights. Urbaniak was the founder of the Dallas Rape Crisis center and is now in private practice.

Christina Coultas, also a five-year member, was voted the “Heart of Altrusa,” a coveted award from the club. She worked as the Communications Vice President this year and updated the club’s public website, this year.

The club met the first Tuesday of each month at the City Club at the Bank of America Building downtown for over three decades but moved this year to the Park City Club located on Sherry Lane. Part of an International service organization, the members help women and children in crisis and promotes literacy.

Last month at the state-wide District Conference held in Grapevine, the Downtown Dallas Club was awarded a $4,000 grant to continue its work with Incarnation House, a safe place for homeless teens to go after school to study and eat dinner. Altrusans served dinner to the teens again Monday, the night before the awards banquet.

The Club members also donate to the Reagan Lorenzen Scholarship Fund, in the name of a former beloved club president, which provides scholarships to first-generation college students graduating from the Irma Rangel Leadership School for Girls. Nine scholarships of $1,000 each were awarded this month to nine graduates of the DISD school.

Meals on Wheels, Shared Housing, HRI and Aberg Literacy are a few of the many non-profits Altrusa of Downtown Dallas pairs up with to make the City of Dallas a better place to work and live.

Members come from a variety of backgrounds and careers, and invite any one interested in serving the Dallas Community to come to a Monthly lunch to learn more. See the club’s website or Facebook page for more information, or text 972-880-5571.


“Love ought to consist of deeds more than words.” - St. Ignatius Loyola

ONLY a life lived in service to others is worth living – Albert Einsten


2018-2019 Outgoing Club Officers Honored:

Judy Porter, MBA, President

Deborah Tull, President Elect

Naomi Ayala, Vice President Fundraising

Christina Coultas, Vice President Communications

Tamika Jones Abendroth, Vice President Membership

Karen Washington, Vice President Services

Lee Dorsett, Parliamentarian

Karen Zahaluk, Secretary

Kim Abmeyer, Treasurer

Nicole LeBoeuf, Past President



2019-2020 CLUB OFFICERS Installed May 21, 2019

Deborah Tull, CPA, President

Karen Washington, President Elect

Naomi Ayala, Vice President Fundraising

Fay Hamdan, Vice President Communications

Amy Gavigan, Vice President Membership

Tamika Jones Abendroth, Vice President Services

Kathleen Scott, Parliamentarian

Tena Callahan, Secretary

Michelle Kubitz, Treasurer

Judy Porter, MBA, Past President


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New Executive Director of the Dallas County Republican Party Joel James works hard behind the scenes to give the citizens of Dallas a great place to live, and qualified candidates to vote for. A servant-leader, he prefers to promote others--to get them elected to the perfect office to match their skills--to help the local government run smoothly, rather than to seek an office for himself.

New Executive Director of the Dallas County Republicans is Young and Enthusiastic -- Welcome Back Joel James!

The new Executive Director of the Dallas County Republican Party is returning to the office he worked out of last year off Forest Lane as a Republican Party of Texas Field Operations Director. Based out of the Lake Highlands area office, he helped with canvassing, phone banking, and volunteering throughout the DFW area for over a year. He was promoted to a position in Austin before returning to the Dallas area in January to work on a local campaign for Dallas City Mayor. Prior to moving to Dallas, Joel was in Atlanta Georgia working for a small lobbying firm for two years.

The youngest of four boys, Joel has two older brothers: Garth, who lives in Georgia, and Mahlon who lives close to Mar a Lago. Joel's twin brother Chris--who is two minutes older--is an accountant in Atlanta. All the boys graduated from Sprayberry H.S in Marietta, Georgia. Both Joel’s parents, Selvyn and Laura Mae, are nurses, and they met in church in Jamaica.

He earned his Political Science degree from Kennesaw State in Georgia and is one class short of a master’s in Public Policy from Liberty University in Virginia.

Why is he working for the Republican party? “George W Bush. He’s my favorite president – a compassionate conservative, a rugged individualist, and his policies, like the No Child Left Behind Act. He’s one of my heroes! He and Colin Powell.” Joel was in high school when “W” was president and has been interested in politics ever since. 

One of his favorite TV shows growing up was The West Wing, and he admired Dule’ Hill who played the personal presidential aid in the series. His favorite actor today is academy-award winner Mahershala Ali who just won his second Academy Award for “Green Book and plays Remy on House of Cards.

Want to learn more about local politics? You can contact Joel at or call him: 214-369-9555.

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While very few young adults in their 20's vote, Sydnee Heim not only worked as a "temporary" block walker during the last election, she has been hired to work full time now in the Dallas County Republican Party office, proving there is life after an election for block walkers who are determined to make a difference.

Temporary Block Walker Becomes a Permanent Lake Highlands Resident, Works to keep Dallas County Great!

Ever wonder where all those block walkers for candidates go after the election is over?

For Sydnee Heim, it’s a permanent position here in Dallas. Sydnee moved into Lake Highlands and started a new job as the Office Manager and Communications Assistant for the Dallas County Republican Party. She says she’s excited about the opportunity and loves the energy of the office – especially trying to keep up with the energy of DCRP Chairwoman Missy Shorey.

Sydnee was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, which she proudly points out is the “same birthplace as Ted Cruz!” She attended Calgary Christian School and graduated from Hillsdale College with a Bachelor of Arts in Politics.

She first became interested in politics over a decade ago during the 2008 presidential election, because her mother was an avid watcher of Fox News. Sydnee caught the political bug; her first job out of college was block walking for Congressman Pete Olson's campaign in the 2018 Republican Primary. 

Because of her career choice, few people know she is a classically trained opera singer and she’s performed in many community and school productions. Sydnee admires Condoleezza Rice particularly because of this shared interest in both politics and music (Rice is a classically trained concert pianist.) 

Although her time is spent mostly at the office, answering the phone and providing information and working on the weekly DCRP newsletter, she also gets out into the community. On Saturday, January 19, she was out in the frigid cold weather at the Annual Garland Martin Luther King Jr. parade, handing out candy with her co-workers from the DCRP to the children along the parade route. Although she's used to the cold temperatures and snow in Canada, she was bundled up against the 25-mile-an-hour wind gusts like her native Texan friends, and happy to head inside to warm up when the hour-long parade ended.

Back home in Canada Sydnee has a menagerie of animals including two Croatian Mountain Dogs named Gus and Thor, two barn cats and three miniature goats. But no GOP elephant, which wouldn’t fit in the family barn, so she settles for a stuffed one that'll you'll find on her desk at headquarters.

Interested in learning more about Sydnee’s home town in Canada or how to get involved in local politics? Contact Sydnee at the DCRP office: (214) 369-9555 or 



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Past Oak Cliff Lions Club President Durhl Caussey ceremoniously passed the giant gavel to the next past president, Steve Bayless, at the Installation of the new President, Anastasia Semos-Shelton and her Board of Directors of the Oak Cliff Lions Club on June 28th. Caussey was the president of the club in 2013-2014. The current Chair of Precinct #4050 for the Republican party, he's been a life long volunteer in both service organizations and politics since returning from two tours in Vietnam as a young man. He is grateful to be living in America.

Native Texan, Vietnam Vet, Life-long Volunteer, Professor Durhl Caussey is a Leader in Multiple Arenas, and a Proud American

As a young boy Durhl Caussey wanted to grow up to be a Cowboy like Roy Rogers. But a funny thing happened on that Happy Trail to singing fame and fortune: he became a professor, a Lions Club President, and a well-respected Republican Precinct Chair.

Born in tiny Seymour, Texas, Durhl lived out in the country and worked in cotton and wheat fields as a boy. He’s also lived in Abilene, Holliday, Fort Worth, Oak Cliff and Duncanville.

He graduated from Seymour High in 1965, then Abilene Christian College in 1970 with a BS in Education and then returned to Abilene Christian University for a Masters in 1971. After college he did some PhD work at UNT in Denton. Durhl says he reads constantly, everything from newspapers to magazines to books. And, he says, “I have learned a lot from my students, ranging from elementary students and Special Ed kids to college undergrad and graduate students.”

And he is no newcomer to politics. In 1960 in Texas, Durhl supported John F. Kennedy. Then in 1968 he supported Richard Nixon, “and have voted Republican and been active in the party since then.”

He’s spent many years working toward a greater America, because, “I love this country and its values; served in military since ROTC in college, did two tours in Vietnam. Freedom isn’t free; I stay involved in politics to preach this message to future generations.” He is currently the Republican Precinct Chair of his area.

The way to be successful in politics is simple: “Hard work and education are key ingredients.” A professor of history at Mountain View College, Durhl says, “I implore younger people to stay in school. I worked my way through college and believe in lifelong learning. I am also very tenacious.”

His life hasn’t been all hard work and studying, however. His wife, JoAnn Holt Caussey, works in Public Relations and so he’s enjoyed meeting plenty of celebrities, from Tony Curtis to Ann Margret, Jim Nabors, Larry Gatlin, and “Top Gun” actor Val “Iceman” Kilmer, among many others.  And through his Republican party contacts he’s met numerous politicians and six U.S. presidents.

For fun, Durhl collects coins and stamps, focusing on ancient coins and Confederate currency.

Durhl says he’s taught all his adult life and about 20 years ago started writing general interest columns for newspapers.  He enjoys writing about cars, sports, outdoor events and he’s currently working on a book. He still writes a column for his hometown newspaper and others in Texas. He also writes for an international publication, The Epoch Times, that translates his column into many different languages.

He said he got through the toughest time of his life--two tours in Vietnam and going through a divorce after 20 years of marriage—through prayer, and in Vietnam, “from listening to my sergeants.” And he never gave up. “I surrounded myself with good people; stayed in church and asked God to help me through it.”

He met the love of his life, Jo Ann Holt-Caussey, in the grocery store. It was hardly romantic: “We met when I followed her up and down the grocery aisles one Sunday afternoon in 1997, at an Albertson’s in Duncanville where I had a part-time job on weekends to supplement my teaching salary. She finally invited me to church the next Sunday morning, and to her surprise, I showed up. We dated 11 years, and finally married 10 years ago in August.”

Durhl is proud of his three grown children and five grandchildren. His kids are married and have families: Chad Caussey, 43, a chiropractor in Dallas; daughter Erica Caussey Unrau, 40, works in day care; youngest son Christopher 35, teaches American History at Coppell High School and is active in the Republican Party. “Every year we attend the State Convention together,” Durhl says.

What does the future hold? “In 10 years I’ll be 81 years old and hope to stay healthy and live a long, active life.” Durhl plans to keep writing car columns and general interest columns as long as he can and hopes to finish his book in five years and write more.

Maybe his second book will be about a singing cowboy who travels across Texas, teaching students along the way about what a great country it is that they live in.


Judy Porter writes about local heroes and nonprofits. Contact her at

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James Duncan is living the American Dream: after years of hard work, he is an expert in his field of computer technology and repair--and he's his own boss!

Local small business man uses his expertise to help others  

“The more you operate in areas of skill and influence, the more successful you will become — responsible for your actions, engaging in helpful interactions, radiating positive energy.” Lily Mccann, Business Guru.

Born in Dallas, James grew up in Dallas, Waco, San Antonio, Bandera, and Kerrville, and dreamed of being an astronaut or pilot.

He graduated from Tivy High School in Kerrville and went on to El Centro College to obtain an Associates in Computer Science then on to UTD for a BS in Economics and Finance. He’s been back to college to study courses in Small Business and Real Estate.

During the early 90’s he was doing well financially and then… the bust came and he, like so many, lost almost everything he had saved. He admitted that was the toughest time of his life, “starting over after the tech crash depleted all my savings.”

But that wasn’t the most dangerous time of his life. That came when he was 35 and on a trip to east coast of Florida. James was in water up to his neck, looking back at the beach, when he had a feeling he needed to turn around. “When I did I saw a shark--still a ways off--but coming at me with its mouth open.” Did he panic? “Let’s just say I immediately got back to the beach as fast as possible.”

Just like he got back to work as fast as possible after his savings were lost. A friend suggested he quit the corporate world and do what he’s good at: fixing computer problems and helping people with their other tech devices.

Why would anyone want to troubleshoot computers all day? James says he does what he does because, “I like to help people who need and appreciate it. And I like being my own boss and creating my own schedule.” Because he’s good at most anything technical, he can fix just about any computer issue, and he’s happy to come to you, the customer, at your home or small business, so he’s not stuck at a desk all day.

He’s almost like the magician David Copperfield, whom he’s met: he can surprise folks by magically fixing their computers they thought were dead or beyond repair. He is an expert at removing Viruses and Malware too.

Having also worked on some Digital Marketing and E-Commerce projects, he knows about online marketing, websites, social media, and securing your online accounts, including crypto currency accounts. He says, “I am always studying to keep up with the latest technology.”

He knows it’s “nerdy” work but, like the Taylor Swift song—someone he’d love to meet -- he just ‘shakes it off’ when he’s dubbed a Geek. In fact, he embraces the term. His “Geek on the Go” business began with referrals from friends, and he says he “just took it one day at a time and, trusted in the higher power to get me through.” His business serves Dallas, Plano, Garland, Mesquite, Richardson, Carrollton, Addison, Farmers Branch, Irving, Park Cities, but he stays close to his home in uptown. “I do NOT go to Arlington, Rockwall, or north of Hwy 121.”

And where will he be in ten years?  “Probably in Dallas unless some amazing opportunity opens up for me elsewhere.” As long as that opportunity doesn’t come with shark-infested waters, this ‘Geek’ will be on the go wherever he is needed.


James has been doing On-Site tech support in private homes and small businesses by Appointment for 12 years.
Call his scheduling service at 214-766-9208


His expertise includes: 

Computer Repair and Home Technology Specialist
Microsoft Certified Professional, A+, Network+
The Underground Shopper "Top 100"
Angie's List 2010 Thru 2017 Super Service Awards
Top Ratings on Google, Yelp and Facebook

Judy Porter writes about local heroes and nonprofits in the metroplex. Contact her at

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College Scholarship recipient Lola Rodriguez credits her strong and loving Mother, Virginia, for her success. Lola was accepted to every college she applied to, and will attend the University of Dallas this fall on a full tuition scholarship, to earn a degree in Biology and go on to Med school. She plans to become a pediatrician. Lola will be the first in her family to go to college.

Community Volunteer Lola Rodriguez Cares for Others, Earns Full Tuition Scholarship to College

Oak Cliff senior Dolores “Lola” Rodriguez is about to graduate from Bishop Dunne High School and head northwest on a full tuition college scholarship. She will be the first in her family to go to college.

Born in Dallas, she was raised by a single mom, Virginia Aranda, and has two sisters: Celina Aranda, 28, and Sarah Rodriguez, 11; and one brother, Alex Rodriguez, age 13.

Lola has known from childhood what she wanted to be when she grew up: A Pediatrician, to help others, “because of my passion for science and children.”

She’s on her way this fall. Accepted to every college she applied to, she will be attending the University of Dallas on a full tuition scholarship, named after another Bishop Dunne and UD graduate, Deacon Paul Wood, who still works at her high school.

Her back up schools include: Loyola University of Chicago, Texas A&M-Texarkana, Our Lady of the Lake University, Texas Woman’s University, University of Mary-Hardin Baylor, Houston Baptist University, Dallas Baptist University, St. Mary’s University-San Antonio, St. Edward’s University and The University of Oklahoma.

Her goal is to complete her undergrad degree in Biology and head off to Medical school to receive a M.D. degree. She says, “While doing this I will be completing internships, community service, research opportunities, and shadowing different physicians in my desired field at clinics and/or hospitals. I will perform residency in Pediatrics while also conducting research.”

Everyone who knows Lola expects her goals to be achieved just as she has planned. She is extremely dedicated to helping others and says, “Dedication is key because if you offer to help someone, you need to show up. Your passion for service must be joined by your dependability.”

Lola has volunteered the past four years at The North Texas Food Bank and St. Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic School, where she graduated from and where her mother continues to work in the pre-k classroom. Lola says, “My dedication to these two non-profits has been ongoing since I was a freshman: preparing meals at NTFB or tutoring at St. Elizabeth’s--feeding the body and mind; feeding hungry people I may never meet and instructing young children who need a little bit of encouragement to keep learning, get good grades, for a good life.”

Raised by her strong and loving mother, Lola says, “I kept my head held high and listened to my mother’s encouraging words.” Lola learned to rely more on herself and says she has grown to become an independent strong woman.

As she prepares to take her Final Exams, Lola looks forward to her graduation on May 25th. Her summer will undoubtedly be filled with more service to others, and she may see the new documentary on the Pope, because he is the one famous person she would love to meet.

Ten years from now, “I plan to live in Dallas still and will run my own medical practice here,” she says. But she also plans to manage her time, so she can serve children in third world countries.

Although she says she was shy as a child, she grew bold enough to resurrect the long-defunct Color Guard for her Falcon High School Band two years ago, and even became its Captain this past year. She had no dance experience and just decided to do it because the school's band director mentioned it. That takes guts, determination and enthusiasm. Lola has all three. 

As she heads off to college this fall, Lola is ready to take on the world in a big way: as a role model for her younger brother and sister, as a tutor, as a volunteer to the hungry and, one day soon, a pediatrician in the city of Dallas.


Judy Porter writes about local heroes, non-profits and small businesses in Dallas. Contact her at

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Altrusa Downtown Club Member and artist Danah Moore helps a student from DISD choose a gift for her mother at the Kids U Mother's Day Shopping Spree on Thursday, May 10. Altrusa of Downtown Dallas has supported the Kids U Afterschool program for years, along with a dozen other non-profit agencies in Dallas. New Altrusa Club members are always welcome.

Altrusa club members encourage reading, aid 45 children with their Mother's Day Gifts

Altrusa International of Downton Dallas Service Club completed their year of service for 2017-2018 on Thursday, May 10, when a dozen women from the club helped 45 children from low-income families choose gifts for their mothers for Mother’s Day.

The children attend DISD schools and are part of “Kids U,” an afterschool program promoting literacy among children from low-income families. The students were in kindergarten through 6th grade. Each child read a number of books throughout the school year to earn “Altrusa dollars” to shop with.

Handbags, jewelry, body lotions and scented candles were provided in quantity for the children to choose from. Each got to pick three items for their mothers. The gifts were then combined and wrapped in brightly colored tissue paper and put in pretty gift bags. A gift tag, colored by each child with their names on them, were attached to the gifts.

Altrusa is a club of professional women and men who choose to combine their efforts to volunteer together to promote literacy and help women and children in crisis. The Downtown Dallas Club is beginning it's 36th year on June 1st.

In addition to Kids U, the club members have worked with a dozen agencies this year, include Aberg Literacy; Bar None; Attitudes and Attire (helping women get back into the work force); Big Thought; Literacy Achieves; Meals on Wheels; Shared Housing; and Irma Rangel Leadership Academy, where a dozen seniors received scholarships to attend college—most of whom are the first in their families to go to college.

The international organization began in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1917 and is much like the Kiwanis Club. It was created when women weren’t allowed to join the all-male club. The Downtown Dallas Club began in 1982, a spin-off of the Dallas Club, which meets in the evening.

The Downtown chapter meets at noon for lunch on the first Tuesday of each month in the City Club on the 69th floor of the Bank of America Building on Main street. Additional evening meetings are held throughout the year, typically close to downtown. This past year the club met at Season’s 52 NorthPark and Highland Park Cafeteria in Casa Linda Plaza for the evening meetings. A speaker from a local non-profit or government agency updates the members on new programs the Altrusans might volunteer in. City Manager T C Broadnax spoke at a luncheon this year, and local celebrities like Sportscaster Dale Hanson or Investigative Reporter Brett Shipp have also shared their insights with the Altrusa Club members.

Members are asked to serve 20 hours of volunteering each year, but many do much more. Attorney, judges, CPAs, College Presidents, business owners and business entrepreneurs are a part of the club which currently has over 50 members. Prospective members are always welcome.

The Annual End of the Year Celebration is this Tuesday evening at Lakewood Country Club. Awards for the most hours served, the Altrusan of the Year and the Heart of Altrusa are awarded.

Attorney Nicole LeBoeuf will be stepping down as president and Public Relations business owner Judy Porter, MBA, will be installed as the new President for the 2018-19 year, along with her Board of Directors. Debbie Tull, CPA, will be installed as president-elect for 2019-2020.

Anyone interested in volunteering with other professionals to help women and children in crisis and promote literacy are invited to attend a future meeting. New transplants to Dallas are welcome and encouraged to meet the members of Altrusa to make new friends and begin or expand their professional network.

To find out more or to attend a lunch or evening meeting contact Tamika Jones Abendroth, Vice President of Membership for 2018-2019 at: or text 972-880-5571.


Judy Porter is a local writer and has been a member of Altrusa since 1990. To contact her: