DALLAS -- The name of the event says it all: Dallas Community Awards.
If there was a theme in the presentations for the 63rd and 64th Dallas Community Awards it was giving back. From the 2019 and 2020 honorees in the Junior First Citizen category to Lifetime Achievement winners, the evening was full of stories of selfless sacrifice for the betterment of Dallas.
The Dallas Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the awards program, which honored two years of winners due to last year’s cancelation, at BeckenRidge Vineyard on Friday evening. Every inch of space in the venue was filled with award winners and those there to support and congratulate them.
“The magic of Dallas lies in the strength of its community members. Those in this room as well as our sponsors who were unable to attend are a beautiful sampling of what makes Dallas so very strong and resilient,” said 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award winner Joe Flande, owner of Home Comfort. “We are so pleased to have the opportunity to acknowledge the good in the world.”
Those honored Friday were: 2019 — Michele Stein, Lifetime Achievement; Some Things — Business of the Year; Dallas Food Bank — Outstanding Organization; Synergize Auto — Young Professional; Jon Hess — First Citizen and Piper Gregory — Jr. First Citizen. 2020 winners: Joe Flande — Lifetime Acheivement; Willamette Valley Fiber — Business of the Year; Community Clothing Closet — Outstanding Organization; Jordan del Greco — Young Professional; Bev Shein — First Citizen and Megan Fogg — Jr. First Citizen.
The list is peppered with those who go above and beyond, from a teenager who was inspired to break the isolation of the pandemic for young children, to organizations assist those in need mostly through the work of volunteers, to businesses that don’t just provide customer service, but community as well.
“Joe … has done more for the youth in Dallas than I think about anybody,” said Zachary Steele of Flande. “Their name is on every baseball field, soccer field, the school. If it is for the youth, he will open his check book and help out.”
“Joe is an amazing person,” added Tina Andersen, the manager of the Polk County Fairgrounds & Event Center. “He so understands what community means.”
The winners of the 2019 and 2020 Outstanding Organization awards both know the power of volunteers. The Community Clothing Closet, the 2030 winner, started with 400 square feet of space in the Dallas Evangelical Church. Eight years later, it has expanded to 1,700 square feet, and is operated by eight volunteers.
“I don’t think that we can measure their full impact,” said DACC Executive Director Tara Townley. “You never know who is going to be coming in. It might be somebody with absolutely nothing and you are providing them with everything.”
The closet doesn’t put a limit on what people can take.
The 2019 winner, Dallas Food Bank, uses a similar philosophy.
“That’s the greatest thing about the food bank. It’s not an organization that dictates what you can and can’t have. It’s how much food you need. We don’t ask questions. We don’t say, what’s your income level, what’s your job status. If you need food, that’s what we are here for,” said board member Jason Thornton.
In accepting the award Friday, board member Eddie Nelson acknowledged the work of the food bank’s volunteers.
“We have approximately 45 dedicated volunteers who put in about 700 hours per month serving our community,” Nelson said. “It is an honor to receive this award on behalf of all of our volunteers.”
While the Community Clothing Closet and Dallas Food Bank are operations serving others on a large scale, the 2020 Junior First Citizen Megan Fogg illustrates the power of a small gestures.
The COVID-19 pandemic began at the end of Fogg’s junior year in high school. She decided to fill her time by dressing up as movie princesses and surprising children on their birthdays. She enlisted the help of her mom, Jana Fogg, in getting costumes and putting the word out.
Jana Fogg said her daughter commitment to becoming those princesses was so strong that she was in demand, and was even asked to repeat performances at birthdays in 2021.
When accepting the award, Fogg thanked her mom.
“I wouldn’t be standing here in front of you guys without her. When your 17-year-old daughter is like ‘Hey, can I dress up as a princess? Can you buy me a costume?’ I don’t know how many people would be like sure, totally, whatever you want,” she said.
The 2020 First Citizen, Bev Stein, has spent a lifetime providing “a sparkle,” as Townley puts it, everywhere she goes. An ever-present community volunteer, Stein has made it a mission to brighten people’s days.
“She cares more about other people than she does herself, which strikes me as first citizen material,” said David Shein, Bev’s husband. “She’s the kindest person I know by far.”
Shein used her acceptance speech to highlight recognize the kindness she sees in others – and to offer some advice.
“Dallas is really blessed to have such wonderful people, who take the time to meet other people’s needs. They inspire and uplift. I love that word uplift, because that is something you can do every day, when an opportunity presents itself,” Shein said. “I think getting a smile back from someone is great, but laughter is best.”