Browsing articles in "Meet Your Neighbor"

Jim Mason

Feb 14, 2010   //   by admin   //   Meet Your Neighbor  //  No Comments

By Callie Thomas

“You can dream, create, design and build the most wonderful place in the world, but it requires people to make the dream a reality.” – Walt Disney

Back in 1965, when 89074 resident Jim Mason’s family moved to Las Vegas, they didn’t know that they would be taking a literal part in making a difference in the way our city is viewed today.  Taylor International, a family-owned and operated company specializing in hospitality, restaurant and commercial construction, has had a part in building some of the largest hotel casino projects in the state, including the original Caesars Palace, The International, MGM Grand (Las Vegas and Reno), Stratosphere, Desert Inn, Venetian and Palazzo.  Jim Mason and his brother Bill purchased the company from their father Stuart in 1998 and became the third family generation to own the business.  “Taylor is a small company who just so happens to do very big jobs,” says Mason.  “We keep a small, dedicated staff that is committed to giving the client the best service possible.  We get to know each owner and pride ourselves on personal attention to each job.”

Jim’s dedication, hard work and commitment are not only evident in the way he and his brother run their company, but also in the way he and his family stay involved with the community and help those in need. Growing up, he witnessed first-hand how his mother and father became examples of reaching out to others.  Community involvement is an integral part of his own family, which includes wife Gwen and their two daughters, Rachel and Shelby. “For Gwen and I, being involved was never a question,” Jim said.  While he and his family take an active role at Temple Beth Shalom, Congregation Ner Tamid, as well as community organizations such as Susan G. Komen Foundation, KNPR Public Radio and UNLV, their hearts are most closely associated with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

“I have had a connection to the Junior Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) for over 35 years.  My mother and father helped start the local chapter after my sister was diagnosed with Type 1 juvenile diabetes,” he said.

The national organization is the leader in research to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes in the world.  It is the largest charitable fundraiser and advocate of diabetes science world-wide and sets the global agenda for diabetes research.  The mission of JDRF is to not only find a cure for the disease, but also the complications that may arise.

In the early days of the foundation, Taylor construction would provide office space for the organization to use where they launched the first fund drives, special events and awareness campaigns. Jim found himself stuffing envelopes around the Taylor conference table, as ball boy for the Sugar Daddy Tennis Tournament Fundraiser and later organizing groups for the Walk for a Cure.  He has helped sell tables for the annual gala, and his wife Gwen has coordinated volunteers for the event.  “I’ve always appreciated how the organization would not only help fund medical research, but also get involved on the front lines with assisting families coping with the day to day issues involved with this chronic condition,” says Jim.  “As a business owner, I appreciate that JDRF consistently rates in the top 10 on utilization of each dollar donated.”

Jim Mason may be helping to build much of what Las Vegas offers to its visitors today, but he is also helping the people that make up our community.  Helping others and giving back comes naturally to Jim as he sees it as another family tradition he intends to carry on.  “Giving back is important.  It is part of what I was taught you should do.  It ultimately helps everyone in our community.”

Christina Primack

Feb 14, 2010   //   by admin   //   Meet Your Neighbor  //  No Comments

By Callie Thomas

“Your work is to discover your world and then, with all your heart, give yourself to it.”
– Prince Guatama Siddharta

If there were one word that would describe 89052 resident Christina Primack, it would be dedicated.  Christina is always hard at work helping others find jobs in the community.

Christina has resided in our community since childhood and has a heartfelt passion for her hometown.  While her career had been primarily in the real estate industry, covering all facets from the building and lending process to sales and marketing, Christina has taken her former career skills and put them to practice by becoming the Director of Project Ezra.  “When the economy made a drastic turn, I reached out to my network for employment opportunities.  This is how I learned of Project Ezra, a program of the Jewish Family Service Agency (a nonprofit, nonsectarian organization.)  As director, Primack assists and empowers those in need of jobs with employment opportunities.  “By utilizing my extensive contacts and applying my marketing skills to create greater opportunities for the unemployed in our community, the program has reached far greater successes than anticipated,” Christina said.

The Jewish Federation of Las Vegas allocated a grant to the Jewish Family Service Agency last March to begin the Project Ezra program.  Project Ezra continues to generate support through private donations, corporate sponsorship and other grant opportunities.  In addition to assisting with employment, Project Ezra provides other services, including counseling and financial aid.  “Our clients are dealing with extraordinary challenges that they have never faced before, including foreclosure, joblessness, loss of health care, hunger and depression,” Primack said.

Project Ezra clients encompass a wide range of individuals from age 17 to 87.  Christina has been the director of the program for the last ten months and in that time has coached and mentored over 450 unemployed people.  Over half have successfully secured employment by learning the techniques that Primack teaches and utilizing the resources that she provides.  “We are identifying job opportunities for people educated with master’s degrees as well as those without a high school diploma.  We have also assisted others with physical and mental disabilities.  I coach my clients to reach out to their growing network of contacts and focus on conducting interviews with poise and confidence. I’m very determined about getting our community back to work and aiding building in self-sufficiency.  Everyday I help facilitate meaningful success stories that make a difference in people’s lives and motivate me to work even harder.”

When Christina isn’t spending time with husband Brett, their two children Austin and Ashley and her toy yorkie Abbey, or expressing her creativity through her contemporary paintings which have been shown in several local galleries, she continues to actively support the community through a number of organizations. These include having served on a variety of boards and committees such as the Jewish Community Center of Las Vegas, Congregation Ner Tamid and Jewish Federation of Las Vegas.  Primack is also an advocate of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), lobbying local and national legislation.  “The work I do today is the most important and fulfilling work I have ever been privileged to participate in,” she said.  “Mentoring those adversely impacted by the economic downturn and presenting them with viable job opportunities is a responsibility I take very seriously, and it is the most important mitzvah (blessing) one can do!”

Kevin Dimond

Feb 14, 2010   //   by admin   //   Meet Your Neighbor  //  No Comments

By Callie Thomas

When using words like honor, integrity and tenacity to describe 89012 resident Kevin Dimond, you would think we, or rather he, lived in another century.  A bygone era as it were, from today’s fast-paced, “get it quick by whatever means possible” society.  But that simply isn’t so.  In fact, Kevin Dimond infuses a level of hospitality, ethics and class into our community today and every day, all the while mentoring others to do the same.

As General Manager of Aureole Restaurant at Mandalay Resort, part of the Charlie Palmer Group of dining outlets, Dimond utilizes his extensive hospitality and culinary skills which he gained at a very young age.  “I come from a hospitality and hotel family, so I grew up with conversations about the industry across my dinner table every night,” he said.  “I originally trained as a chef and learned the basics of the restaurant business. I went on [LR1] to the Culinary Institute of America, and later worked for The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company for 14 years. traveling around the world with the organization.”

Even with all the constant moving, Dimond was engrained with the Ritz-Carlton’s legendary service philosophy and their unwavering commitment to service in their communities.  When Kevin arrived in Las Vegas in 2003 and was introduced to the Epicurean Charitable Foundation, it was as natural as breathing for him to become involved with the group.  “It is a great organization whose primary mission is to provide college scholarships for local area high school graduates that might not otherwise have the means to go to higher education,” Dimond said. This past fall, he was named executive board president.  In his role, he will continue the group’s mission by establishing college scholarships for local students seeking a career in the hospitality and culinary industries.

The Epicurean Charitable Foundation (ECF) was formed in 2001. It is comprised [LR2] of more than 40 top food and beverage executives who are dedicated to making a difference in the hospitality industry and the community through support of the local education system and related industry organizations, charities and associations.

For Dimond, the experiences he’s gained from his work with the Epicurean Charitable Foundation have been rich and rewarding on a variety of levels.  Foremost are the opportunities to meet and work with other industry leaders in the community.  “I really respect the members of our board and value the assistance I get from them.  I work with Adam Odegard in Mandalay Bay, who’s also an ECF member, and when I visit him on issues of the foundation, he always has time and meaningful advice for me.”

Dimond also enjoys his involvement with the generous donors and other community organizations that have incorporated ECF into the network of causes that help to make the community stronger.  But perhaps what remains paramount is the relationship that the foundation has with its scholarship recipients.  “We not only provide college scholarships for 100% of the student’s tuition, but we also provide them with a member of our board as a mentor.  We believe that this scholar/mentor relationship is an invaluable tool in making a real difference in our community and industry,” he said.

While Kevin has much to be proud of throughout his career and in giving back to the community, which includes acting with care, compassion, diversity and integrity, and building relationships that transcend the test of time, he is especially proud of his family, which includes his wife Kirsten and their three sons Paul, Clayton and Devin. [LR3] “Although I have seen and done many things, I have never felt more accomplished than when my son graduated from UNR, when I was coaching my son’s baseball team, playing with my youngest son and when my wife gives me a new tie.”