Browsing articles in "Meet Your Neighbor"

Heidi Hayes & Ted Pretty

Apr 15, 2010   //   by wagona   //   Meet Your Neighbor  //  1 Comment

By Callie Thomas

Pioneer American broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow said that to be persuasive, one must be believable; to be believable, one must be credible; and to be credible, one must be truthful.  Viewers need little persuasion to watch the Fox5 morning news show every day because of the authentically candid demeanor of its most familiar news personalities, residents Heidi Hayes and Ted Pretty.  The married news and weather duo, who have been on-air longer than any other members of the Fox5 team, are engrained in the very fabric of our community.

“I was born and raised in Las Vegas,” says news anchor Hayes with passionate pride. “I’m a proud native.  I grew up just a few miles from the 89012 area, and back then it was all desert.”  Meteorologist Ted Pretty has resided in the valley for just over a decade, but has immersed himself within the community to earn him nearly native status.  “The last decade has absolutely flown by with all the personal and professional changes,” adds Pretty.  “I was single and 25 when I moved here; now I’m married with two children, and Fox5 has grown by leaps and bounds.”

When Hayes started her career in the news business, her dream was always to come back to her hometown.  “I am proud to represent my community on live TV everyday.  Since this is my hometown, getting involved in the community is an honor.”  Pretty, like most aspiring news journalists, worked his way through small markets across the country before landing in Vegas as the morning features reporter.  He later became the station’s meteorologist after earning his certification and seal of approval from the National Weather Association nearly seven years ago.

Both Hayes and Pretty feel strongly about giving back to the community and can be found supporting an extensive list of organizations throughout the valley.  The couple participates in fundraisers for the March of Dimes, Opportunity Village, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Nevada Cancer Institute, and so many more.  Ted sits on the Board of Directors for the Southern Nevada Chapter of the March of Dimes and also lends his time to causes such as Habitat for Humanity, Leukemia/Lymphoma Society and The Salvation Army.  Heidi visits local schools to speak and read to children of all ages.  “My favorite would have to be Keith and Karen Hayes Elementary School, which was named after my parents,” she said.

One of the most important events that the couple participates in each year is the annual Float Like a Duck water safety and awareness campaign created by Paragon Pools. “Drowning is the number one cause of preventable death for children under the age of four, and with two small children myself, I feel it’s important to educate parents on how to keep their children safe,” says Hayes.   Pretty concurs.  “We love helping out with the Float Like a Duck Campaign along with the Fire Department, Las Vegas Metro Police and the Southern Nevada Health District.”

The 7th annual event will be held this May at the Heinrich YMCA Branch Water Sports Park.  “Floating” is regarded as the first building block in a series of water-related safety programs that families can build on throughout their child’s upbringing.  The event teaches how to be safe around all bodies of water in a fun-filled setting.  “It breaks my heart every year when I have to report tragic stories of children drowning or being seriously injured in backyard pools when it can be prevented,” says Hayes.

Giving back to the community is a no brainer for Heidi Hayes and Ted Pretty who are dedicated to making it the best it can be.  “Just do what you can.  Not all of us can donate thousands of dollars to our favorite cause, but we can give our time and talents.”

Dr. James Beckwith

Mar 16, 2010   //   by admin   //   Meet Your Neighbor  //  No Comments

By Callie Thomas

Imagine what it might be like if you were unable to witness the most important moments of your life.  First love, your wedding, a child’s birth, graduation, your parent’s golden anniversary and such.  To ensure that our community and those around the world are able to view these and other cherished events is the vision of resident Dr. James Beckwith.  As an optometrist of more than 20 years, Dr. Beckwith of Vision Source Summerlin/Lakes has merged his exceptional skills in the field with his dedication to helping others. “I think most people would consider the gift of eyesight to be our most precious sense,” said Beckwith.

It was at the age of ten that Dr. Beckwith became fascinated with optometry.  While having his first eye examination, he thought the optometrist had “great toys.”  And so began a lifelong passion for helping others see things clearly–as well as utilizing the latest technological resources in the field.  He established his practice at the Lakes Business Park when there was little else in the neighborhood at the time.  It turned out to be a wise decision due to the enormous growth of the community over the last two decades.  He has amassed a great many patients, not only because of his skill but because of his compassionate nature as well as his sense of humor and eternal smile.

While Dr. Beckwith is passionate about his work, he shares an equal passion for helping others.  “I learned about community involvement from my parents who volunteered for seemingly everything at St. Viator Parish,” he said.  “My first involvement with community service as a professional was as the Southern Nevada Chair of VISION USA through the Nevada Optometric Association.”

Dr. Beckwith does much to help the underprivileged in regards to eyesight.  “I’ve taken care of people in the office through different programs, including VISION USA which provides free eye exams for low income patients; the Clark County School District partnership program that works with financially challenged students regarding their health needs; Homeless Outreach; as well as fundraising efforts for Optometry Giving Sight and The Foundation for Fighting Blindness.”  Beckwith has also coordinated the ten optometric offices in his group to offer annual free screenings for those at risk for glaucoma and diabetes.  “Our ability to diagnose glaucoma in its early stages is one of the greatest advances in our field,” he said.  “But we need those high-risk patients in our office to do that.  The free screenings give the added incentive to get those people in the door.”

Beckwith has taken his efforts out of the country, providing care and eyeglasses through an organization called VOSH (Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity). VOSH organizes eye care mission trips throughout the world.  The happily married doctor of 23 years took his family, including wife Kimberly and their three teenage sons Dean, Dylan and Devin, to an impoverished region of Mexico. The four day trip included a group of doctors who attended to the health care needs of roughly 1000 patients.  “It definitely was not a trip to Disney Land for the kids, but it was a great experience for them; they were able to learn about giving back and gain an understanding of how fortunate they are.  It was an incredible experience. I believe that trip made an indelible mark on my sons’ characters.”

Dr. James Beckwith envisions the world through the perspective of Frank Capra’s fictional character, George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” a fortunate man and fulfilled by his service to others.  “If I’ve done my best I consider myself successful regardless of the outcome.  Contributing unconditionally to those in need helps foster community spirit, which is important to living a fulfilling life.”

Carolyn Wheeler

Mar 16, 2010   //   by admin   //   A Step Above, Meet Your Neighbor  //  1 Comment

By Callie Thomas

Some people just never say no.  Thankfully, our community is that much the better because 89135 resident Carolyn Wheeler is always willing to lend a hand, even though she leads a busy life as a wife, mother and business owner.   It is her generous heart that reaches out and is a part of the change that makes a difference in the lives of families in our neighborhood.

The longtime Las Vegas resident is adept at “juggling plates in the air” working tirelessly at home with daughter Lindsay and husband Brian, in her career as a marketing director, as well as involving herself in community organizations.    “I’ve always been very involved in the community,” says Wheeler.  “I joined the Junior League where I got my first glimpse of the community and how big the need is here.  I served on their board for many years and enjoyed helping out in a variety of capacities.”

Carolyn is also a Junior Achievement volunteer, a Girl Scout Leader, serves on the PLT board at her daughter’s school and recently went back to work as the State Marketing Director for Communities In Schools of Nevada through the VISTA program. As if that weren’t giving enough, she also serves as the Board President for an organization which has become one of the most dear to her heart called Family to Family Connection, Las Vegas West.

Family to Family empowers and supports families and provides a safe and nurturing environment for their children from birth up to age four through parent education and community networking.  “I took my daughter to Family to Family when she was a newborn,” Carolyn said.  “The classes were invaluable and even more so were the relationships that were formed.  It is a great place to go where you feel like family and can network with other moms who are going through the same ups and downs of parenthood.  In fact, I still get together with a family that I met there when my daughter was only eight weeks old.”

The nonprofit organization offers free classes to parents as well as makes visits to new mothers at Mountain View Hospital and home visits upon request.  “I wanted to find some way to repay the organizers for the free classes and invaluable information in some way, and when I asked the Executive Director, Dianne Farkas, what I could do, she asked me to be on her board.”

Six years ago the organization was looking for a new approach to help raise funds for the program.  Out of that brainstorming session a special event called TOUCH-A-TRUCK became a reality.  It is a one-of-a-kind offering that gives children an opportunity to get up close and personal with their favorite big rigs, fire trucks, police cars and military vehicles.  What kid wouldn’t want to get behind the wheel, honk the horn and talk to the hometown heroes who drive them every day?

Each year the program has grown by leaps and bounds and has been held at the Orleans Arena for the last few years to accommodate the throngs of kids and parents at the event.  “Last year we had 90 trucks and 5,500 people and introduced a horn free hour for children with special needs in addition to a Jaws of Life demonstration by the fire department.  It was incredible.  We’re expecting another great TOUCH-A-TRUCK event on March 20,” Wheeler said.

Carolyn Wheeler refuses to say no and continues to give back to the community. “Creating a caring environment and being a positive role model for the children of our community is essential in setting an example for future generations.” For information on this year’s TOUCH-A-TRUCK event, visit www.touchatruck.net.

Sydney Carey Spoon

Mar 16, 2010   //   by admin   //   Meet Your Neighbor  //  No Comments

Faith Lutheran High School

Class of 2010

Success is a family affair for Faith Lutheran High School senior Sydney Spoon, a bright, caring daughter and sister who shows that apples from the same tree don’t fall too far from one another. Though this is undoubtedly true in many ways, Sydney has her own achievements to be proud of, exemplifying that nothing compares to the singular commitment of a highly motivated individual. Driven not by selfish motivations or personal gain, she puts her ability and academia to the test on a daily basis, always aiming to do right by herself, her loved ones and faith, which makes Sydney Spoon – A Step Above.

G.P.A.: 4.1

Sports/Activities/Clubs:

  • Varsity Soccer, 2007-10
  • Varsity Track & Field, 2007-08/2010
  • Club Soccer, 2007-09
  • Vocal Ensemble, 2010
  • Choir, 2007-10
  • Second Soprano Section Leader, 2007-08
  • Applied Christianity, 2009-10
  • Piano Lessons, 2007-10
  • National Honor Society, 2008-10
  • National Honor Society Historian, 2008-09; Secretary, 2009-10
  • National Junior Honor Society, 2006-07
  • Key Club, 2007-10
  • Peer Ministry, 2007-10

Awards/Community Service:

  • Scholar Athlete, 2009-10
  • Wendy Heisman State Finalist, 2010
  • League Offensive Player of the Year, 2009
  • All-State Player of the Year, 2009
  • First Team Southern League, 2008-10
  • First Team All-State, 2009
  • Regional Soccer Champions, 2007-10
  • Soccer State Runner-Up, 2009
  • Second Team Southern League, 2008
  • New Student Guide, 2007-10
  • Lip Sync Coordinator, 2007-10
  • Student Senator, 2009
  • Opportunity Village Volunteer
  • Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
  • Catholic Charities Volunteer
  • Salvation Army Food Drive
  • Operation Christmas Child
  • Middle School Soccer Coach
  • Peer Tutor

Goals & Aspirations: “I look forward to attending a university that will prepare me for my career in sports medicine/physical therapy and nutrition. Helping athletes strive to be all they can be will help fulfill my goal to serve others.”

Accomplishments Most Proud Of: “I am most proud of being a state finalist for the high school Wendy Heisman Award. It feels good to be acknowledged for my success in sports, academics, leadership and community service.”

Sydney is Successful Because: “My faith in Christ and endless determination helps me to succeed along with the love and support from my family.”

Sydney Looks Up To: “My sister Jordan has been a great role model to me. She has a positive outlook on life and gives me endless support in all I do. My sister provides me with infinite laughs and smiles.”

Kylee Elexis Slee

Mar 16, 2010   //   by admin   //   A Step Above, Meet Your Neighbor  //  No Comments

Palo Verde High School

Class of 2010

In every way, Palo Verde High School valedictorian candidate Kylee Slee has found her voice. With all the cool sophistication and elegance of, say, a striking operatic performer, she devotes every aria and diaphragmatic exhale to the passion of her music. And yet, with every step Kylee takes toward stardom, she challenges herself to hit higher notes than ever before while still being an example and leader to her peers. For this, Kylee Slee is – A Step Above.

G.P.A.:  4.8

Sports/Music/Activities:

  • Junior Varsity Soccer, 2006-07
  • Swim Team, 2007-08
  • PVHS Concert Choir, 2006-10
  • PVHS Vocal Infinity Varsity Choir, 2008-10
  • PVHS Madrigals, 2006-08; Alto Section Leader, 2007-08
  • PVHS Production 100 Years of Broadway–Soloist and Chorus Member, 2008
  • PVHS Production A Tribute to Gershwin–Soloist and Chorus Member, 2009
  • PVHS Production A Night at the Opera–Guest Soloist with Orchestra, 2008
  • Nevada Music Educators Association All-State Honor Choir, 2007-09
  • CCSD High School Honor Choir–Soprano Section Leader, 2006-09
  • CCSD High School Jazz Honor Choir–Soprano Section Leader, 2006-09
  • Bear Valley Music Festival, L’Elisir d’Amore–Chorus Member, 2009
  • Tennis Channel Open (ESPN)–National Anthem Soloist, 2008
  • International House of Blues Foundation, Blues Schoolhouse–Guest Soloist, 2008

Scholarships/Awards/Community Service:

  • National Merit Scholarship Competition–Finalist, 2009-10
  • National Hispanic Recognition Program–Scholar, 2009
  • National Society of High School Scholars–Ambassador, 2008-10
  • Scholastic Art and Writing Competition–Silver Key, 2010
  • Clark County Y-Write High School Poetry Contest–Third Place, 2008
  • Nevada All-State Academic Team–Swimming, 2007-08
  • PVHS English Student of the Month, 2008
  • PVHS Spanish and Math Student of the Month, 2007
  • UNLV Future Scholar Award, 2006-08
  • UNLV Top Hispanic Scholar Award, 2008/09
  • LV Music Teachers Nat’l Assoc (MTNA) Jazz Festival–Superior with Excellence Rating, 2009
  • MTNA Senior Performance Voice Competition–Alternate Finalist, 2008
  • CCSD Solo & Ensemble Festival–Superior Rating, 2006-10
  • NATS High School Musical Theatre Division–2nd Place, 2007-10
  • NATS Classical Junior & Senior Division–1st Place, 2009-10
  • NATS Classical Freshman & Sophomore Division–2nd Place, 2007
  • Project TEAM Volunteer, 2009-10
  • Toys for Tots & Homeless Veterans of America Volunteer, 2008-09
  • Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Volunteer Performance, 2006-09
  • Peer Tutoring, 2006-10

Goals & Aspirations: “After receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in vocal performance, I plan on applying to a Master’s program to get a degree in both vocal performance and pedagogy. I would like to retire at a ripe old age with my name being known around the world as an amazing performer and teacher.”

Accomplishments Most Proud Of: “I am most proud of my candidacy for valedictorian, National Merit Semifinalist, National Hispanic Scholar, being named Soprano One Section Leader for two years at both the Regional and All-State Honor Choirs, and for my performance in a professional opera production.” 

Kylee is Stronger and Wiser Because: “The summer after my freshman year, I blew out my knee playing soccer. I decided to turn my attention to music.  With this newly-formed passion, my knowledge of the subject increased greatly, and I realized that I could not live without it. If I had never blown out my knee, I would have never found out what I was truly passionate about.”

Alyse Kurley

Mar 16, 2010   //   by admin   //   Meet Your Neighbor  //  No Comments

Durango High School

Class of 2010

To be or not to be isn’t a question for Durango High School senior Alyse Kurley. To be the best she can be, now that’s more like it. She’s proud of her accomplishments and rightly so; she’s made them by combining creativity, smarts and determination with a keen awareness of the daily struggles teens and adults must sometimes overcome. Theatrically and personally, she’s brightened by a spotlight all her own, not for fame or glory, but for the love of art and sharing with others. That’s just the kind of unique star quality that makes Alyse Kurley – A Step Above.

G.P.A.:  4.631

Sports/Activities/Clubs:

  • Varsity Tennis, 2006-10
  • JV Swimming, 2006-07
  • Varsity Dance Divas, 2007-10
  • DHS Theatre, 2006-10
  • Cast Member–10 DHS Productions
  • Starring Role–DHS Production of Cinderella ’89, 2007/08
  • Starring Role–DHS Production of A Mid Summer Night’s Dream, 2008/09
  • Starring Role–DHS Production of Alice in Wonderland, 2009/10
  • Costume Design–3 DHS Productions
  • Drama Club Vice President, 2009/10
  • S.T.A.T.U.S. Club, 2006-09
  • National Honor Society, 2008-10
  • Principal’s Advisory Committee, 2007-09

Awards/Community Service:

  • Athlete of the Month, 2009
  • Student of the Month, 2007/09
  • Scholar Athlete, 2006-10
  • Theatre & Dance Letters, 2009
  • Academic Letter, 2007
  • 4-Year Varsity Tennis Letter, 2009
  • Best Freshman–DHS Theatre, 2006/07
  • Best Actress–DHS Theatre, 2008/09
  • Best Couple on Stage–DHS Theatre, 2008/09
  • Race for the Cure, 2006-08
  • Aids Walk, 2006/07
  • School Clean Up Service, 2009
  • Nevada Reading Week Volunteer Reader, 2007
  • Tennis Against Tobacco Use (T.A.T.U.) Volunteer, 2006-07

Goals & Aspirations: “My major goal is to graduate high school with high honors. In the future I hope to attend the University of Nevada Las Vegas and continue on to medical school. I would also like to continue dancing and acting in the future. I feel that the performing arts are extremely important, and I would like to inspire future generations to get involved in the arts as much as possible.”

Alyse is Successful Because: “I feel that my drive and passion for any goal that I set for myself make me successful.”

Alyse Looks Up To: “I most of all look up to my parents. Without them pushing me to do my best, I do not feel I would be the same person today. They have taught me to work hard, reach for my dreams, and to never give up when times get rough.”

The Watkins Family

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

By Callie Thomas

It has been said that the family that plays together, stays together. The sentiment turns out to be true, as attested by our 89123 residents, the Watkins family.

Richard and Bettinna Watkins are the guiding forces that instill a strong work ethic and community participation in their family, which includes eldest son Richard Jr. and daughter Tiffany.   “Our family is successful because we share a single united goal, and that is to love one another,” says Bettinna Watkins.  “People frequently ask us how our family can be so close and loving, and it’s a very simple answer.  We spend as much time with each other as possible.”  Part of that time is spent helping others throughout the community.

Through his work with the Palms Hotel as a Count Room Manager and within the casino industry, Richard Sr. has formed many relationships with some of the community’s leading organizations and individuals.  By the same token, his wife Bettinna is a Call Center Supervisor for Vegas.com, the official Vegas travel site where she manages agents and interacts with Las Vegas tourists, as well as interacting with many of the celebrities that do business with the online resource to promote their shows.  Together they have had an opportunity to learn where help might be needed and are always eager to lend a hand.  “As a family we are always happy to volunteer for a number of community programs and events,” Richard said.  “However, the organization that has meant so much to us personally, The Children’s Heart Foundation, is where we find ourselves most closely associated.  Particularly as the foundation was so instrumental in helping us get through one of the most difficult times in our lives when our son Richard went through heart surgery.”

Four years ago, the Watkins family experienced first-hand the Children’s Heart Foundation commitment to making a difference in the lives of children with heart conditions and their families throughout Nevada.  The organization lends emotional, educational and financial support to inspire a higher quality of life for all.  Each year, the foundation provides a carefree camp experience for children with heart conditions called Camp Mend-A-Heart, which the young Richard has attended.  “It has truly made an impact on his growing into teenage years,” Bettinna said.  “He has learned self-confidence and that nothing is out of reach as long as he is willing to try.”

The Watkins’ are proud to participate in the 7th Annual Walk with the Heart of a Child fundraising event later this month.  They will walk as a family team to help raise dollars to assist other families in Nevada whose children have been afflicted with heart disease.  Teams will gather to walk in celebration and remembrance of all the children who fight the disease and to create community awareness.   The event is expected to draw more than 1400 participants, and monies raised will help fund programs like Camp Mend-A-Heart, Smart Heart Scholarships, Family Outreach and others. For information on the event, visit chfn.org.

Richard and Bettinna Watkins are optimistic about their family’s future. They look forward to seeing their children begin high school soon and grow up to be successful in their endeavors, knowing that they have the love and support of their family to rely upon.  They are proud of being the best parents they can be and for giving back to the community that is their home.  “Giving back, to us, is sharing your time and energy with an organization that stands for a noble cause.  Being a member of the community means sharing the responsibility of being a part of something bigger than yourself or just your family, and helping to make our neighborhood a better place.”

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.”