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Honoring Excellence

Community awards recognize 'best of Dallas'

Domino's Pizza owner Jake Frazier was named Dallas' Junior First Citizen at Friday's Dallas Community Awards.

Photo by Jolene Guzman

Domino's Pizza owner Jake Frazier was named Dallas' Junior First Citizen at Friday's Dallas Community Awards.

February 25, 2014

And the

winners are …

Awards presented during Friday night’s 57th annual Dallas Community Awards Ceremony at the Col. James Nesmith Readiness Center included:

• First Citizen — P.J. Johnson.

• Junior First Citizen —Jake Frazier.

• Good Samaritan — Beth Jones.

• Outstanding Organization — Garten Services.

• Small Business of the Year — Crunchy Mamas.

• Most Improved Business of the Year — Dallas Health & Vitality Center.

• Ag Business of the Year — Eola Hills Wine Cellars.

• Business of the Year — Hayward Ford.

DALLAS — Those who know Jake Frazier are probably most familiar with him as the guy who delivers their pizza with a smile.

As of Monday, the owner of Dallas’ Domino’s Pizza has been at it for 10 years, starting as a delivery driver to now owning the local franchise.

As many of his customers will tell you, Frazier, 29, has made service his specialty.

But perhaps you are not as familiar with him as the businessman who diverted from company policy to benefit a local charity. Or as the man with the generosity to offer free pizzas to federal workers during the government shutdown and to local road crews during the recent snow storm.

Oh, and the citizen who chased down a suspected thief and held him until police could arrive. He’s that guy, too.

For those reasons — and more — Frazier can add another title: Dallas’ Junior First Citizen.

Jake’s mother, Bonnie Frazier, had the honor of presenting her son his award Friday at the 57th annual Dallas Community Awards Ceremony at the Col. James Nesmith Readiness Center in Dallas.

She said he didn’t always live up to his potential.

“When Jake was growing up, his dad and I wondered, quite a few times, whether he would grow up to be a responsible adult,” she said, jokingly.

Bonnie recalled when her son was in third grade, his teacher called her and her husband, Andy, down to the school to talk to the principal.

That principal, longtime Dallas teacher and principal, Scott McLeod, had some comforting and wise words for the concerned parents.

“’Don’t worry about Jake. Jake is going to be just fine,’” she recalled him staying. “And Scott, I think you were right.”

Dallas Christmas Cheer can attest to Jake’s loyalty to his hometown. He had to step around company policy – which designated a preferred charity -- to donate to the local program.

“You actually get to see who it helps and there is no administration cost for Dallas Christmas Cheer,” Frazier said, explaining his decision. “I know the money goes straight to the community.”

As for running after the man who stole money from a local bank, he didn’t give a second thought about what he should do.

“I followed him for six or seven blocks, telling him there is no way he can outrun me and he should give up,” Frazier said. “It was a pretty surreal moment.”

But also one that characterizes his above-and-beyond approach to work and community service.

“It’s hard to grow up in a community like this and not want to give back,” he said, noting his family, teachers, coaches and friends’ parents all set examples for him. “(You) would be hard pressed to get me to leave and I would only leave because of something that means as much as Dallas does to me.”

“I’m just happy that my town loves me as much as I love it,” he added.

57th Annual Dallas Community Awards Ceremony

Dallas First Ctitzen: P.J. Johnson

DALLAS — P.J. Johnson has lived in Dallas for only about nine years, but what she has accomplished in that time would take most people much longer.

She has been involved in launching a community garden program, a local meal site program (James2 Community Kitchen), and transitional housing for women released from jail or prison (Titus III).

Dallas

Photo by Dani Mouser/for the Itemizer-Observer

Dallas' First Citizen P.J. Johnson accepts her award Friday at the 57th annual Community Awards in Dallas.

Others are quick to praise her persistence — described by one as “the tenacity of a bulldog” — but Johnson is just as insistent on deflecting it. She is more apt to say those in the Dallas community who followed her lead helped pave the way for her.

“When God gave me Dallas, he gave me everything,” she said last week.

In spite of her humbleness — and perhaps for it — Johnson was named Dallas’ First Citizen last week at the 57th annual Community Awards.

Grace Baptist Church Pastor Russ Hilsinger, who was involved in two of Johnson’s ventures — the community garden and Titus III — is just one among many who could speak of her irrepressible nature.

It was out of her sheer will that his church began growing produce to donate to Dallas Emergency Food Corp. It now donates more than 20,000 pounds each summer.

“I could tell her heart was really tuned in and passionate for the people who are really struggling in our community,” he said before presenting her the award Friday.

The same could be said for her effort to open the Titus III house in 2010.

“Without P.J., Polk County most likely would still be struggling to have secure transitional housing for females,” said Marty Silbernagel, Polk County community corrections director. “Through many challenging moments, P.J. has been integral in helping the ladies steer their lives in the right direction.”

Johnson, again, prefers to give the praise back.

“My life is blessed every day by Titus,” she said upon accepting the award. “I get up every morning expecting a miracle and I get one before the day is over.”

Good Samaritan

Beth Jones

Why Beth Jones was chosen as Good Samaritan: In 2008, Jones launched Bambinos, a nonprofit organization assisting low-income families with basic needs, such as diapers, food and clothing.

Bambinos

Photo by Dani Mouser/for the Itemizer-Observer

Bambinos' Beth Jones

“Beth heard a need and she stepped up to the plate,” said award presenter Jackie Lawson. “All the while, her husband, Ray, was serving abroad and she had just a little bitty baby. As a military wife, she had mom and dad duties for quite a while. This didn’t stop her. … She knew there were young, struggling moms who needed help spiritually and physically, and she had the answer.”

Outstanding Organization

Garten Services

Why Garten Services was named Outstanding Organization: Garten is a nonprofit organization that assists people with disabilities in finding work and contributing to the community. Based in Salem, Garten has a Dallas branch employing 47 people — some with disabilities and some not. The Dallas branch assists 56 clients through its commercial laundry, custodial services, recycling center, and packaging and assembly programs.

Garten

Photo by Dani Mouser/for the Itemizer-Observer

Garten's Don Carmichael Jr. and CEO Tim Rocak

“We are glad to be a part of this community and we will help if we can,” said Garten CEO Tim Rocak, who presented the award to Dallas branch manager Don Carmichael Jr. “That is what we are here to do.”

Business of the Year

Hayward Ford

Why Hayward Ford is the Business of the Year: Joe Hayward opened Joe Hayward Ford 40 years ago, choosing a franchise in Dallas over one in Eastern Washington. Hayward Ford is now the last remaining new car dealership in Dallas.

Hayward Ford

Photo by Dani Mouser/for the Itemizer-Observer

Hayward Ford's Mike Barker and Joe Hayward

“It’s so great to have a major car dealer persistently here and a great local company that supports our community so well,” said presenter Brian Dalton. “Some of the big companies support us in certain ways, but not to the same degree, and with the heart, that local companies do.”

Ag Business of the Year

Eola Hills Wine Cellars

Why Eola Hills Wine Cellars is the Ag Business of the Year: Eola Hills started making wine in 1986, but its focus hasn’t just been on wine, but community. Over 28 years, Eola Hills has grown to include an event facility and staff that goes out of its way to help each organization, many nonprofits, to put on successful events and fundraisers.

Jeff Laeng and Eola Hills business manager Eric Rogers

Photo by Dani Mouser/for the Itemizer-Observer

Jeff Laeng and Eola Hills business manager Eric Rogers

“They make every organization they come in contact with feel like they are the most important organization or nonprofit group around,” said award presenter Jeff Laeng. “These people are constantly helping others.”

Small Business of the Year

Crunchy Mamas

Why Crunchy Mamas is the Small Business of the Year: Ashley Kahl and Katie Newman, both young mothers, call themselves “crunchy,” as in granola or hippie. They are particularly crunchy about personal beauty products — so much so that they began to make their own all-natural versions. In 2012, they decided they should share their chemical-free world with the rest of us. Crunchy Mamas quickly became a success through sales at local stores and online sales, now reaching 40 states.

Crunchy Mamas

Photo by Dani Mouser/for the Itemizer-Observer

Crunchy Mamas' Ashley Kahl and Katie Newman

“They are amazing wives and mothers, and terrific businesswomen,” said award presenter Theda Tawney.

Most Improved Business

Dallas Health and Vitality Center

Why Dallas Health and Vitality Center is the Most Improved Business of the Year: Owner Laurie Vail opened the center about three years ago after not being able to find items she needed in Dallas for a specialized diet.

Dallas Health and Vitality Center

Photo by Jolene Guzman

Dallas Health and Vitality Center's Laurie Vail

“Laurie saw a need and decided to fulfill it by opening the Dallas Health and Vitality Center,” said Bonnie Beck, the award presenter. “Laurie opened when the world was in the deepest time of the recession. Hard work, long hours and caring for each client personally have made it work.”

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