Sunday, February 28, 2010



Mark your calendars - the time has come to celebrate the Grand Opening of CityWalk@Akard. On March 25, we will be joined by Mayor Tom Leppert and several other VIP guests to celebrate the Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting for this awesome development. Invite your friends or colleagues. We will have complimentary valet and delicious hors d’oeuvres and dessert from Two Sisters Catering.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Black History Month – 101 Fast Facts


Fact #1

Elijah McCoy (1843 - 1929) invented an automatic lubricator for oiling steam engines in 1872. The term "the real McCoy" is believed to be a reference about the reliability of Elijah McCoy's invention.

Fact #2

Garrett Augustus Morgan (1877 - 1963) invented, among many other things, a 3-way automatic stop sign, which he sold to General Electric. It was used in the U.S. until the 3-light traffic sign was developed.

Fact #3

Otis Boykin (1920 -1982) invented electronic control devices for guided missiles, IBM computers, and the control unit for a pacemaker.

Learn more Fast Facts here.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Black History Month - Maya Angelou


Maya Angelou is one of the most important African American authors and orators of the twentieth century. Her achievements span over seven decades and showcase a wealth of talents, beginning in the early 1940s when she became San Francisco’s first female cable car conductor. Angelou then emerged as a singer and dancer in the 1950s and became an editor and writer in the 1960s. In the 1970s she began exploring her talents as an actress, director, poet and screenwriter.

Angelou’s highly acclaimed 1970 autobiography “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” became an important example of African American literature as it chronicled the amazing journey of a young woman who overcame a childhood rape, made a pilgrimage to Africa, served as a civil rights activist and became a shining example of self-determination.

Read more about Maya Angelou here.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Full size bed needed!

To all of our CityWalkTalk blog followers:

We are in need of a full-size bed for a wonderful couple who will be moving into CityWalk. If you know of someone who is looking to donate a bed, please contact me, Naquanna Comeaux, at 214.573.2570 ext. 2133 or

We can make arrangements for pickup, so let me know as soon as possible! Thanks everyone!

Black History Month - Ella Fitzgerald


Ella Fitzgerald was one of the most notable singers of the 20th century, and a significant artist in the emergence of jazz.

A performance at the Apollo Theater’s famed Amateur Night in 1934 set Fitzgerald’s career in motion. Over the next seven decades, she worked with some of the most important artists in the music industry including Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie and Frank Sinatra.

She was dubbed “The First Lady of Jazz” for her mainstream popularity and unparalleled vocal talents—even though her less–than–svelte appearance and upbeat singing style was in contrast to the sultry and bluesy female singers of her day. Her unique ability for mimicking instrumental sounds helped popularize the vocal improvisation of “scatting,” which became her signature technique.

Ella recorded over 200 albums and around 2,000 songs in her lifetime, singing the works of some of the most popular composers such as Cole Porter, Gershwin and Irving Berlin.

Ella Fitzgerald died in 1996 at the age of 79, and is remembered as one of the most influential jazz artists of the 20th century.

Read more about Ella Fitzgerald here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Men Behind the Madness, I Mean Magic


December 4, 2000 was my first day as an employee at Central Dallas Ministries. So much has changed in my life since then – I got married, bought a house, had two babies, and officially entered middle age, and a lot has changed at CDM since then also – program expansion, additional staff, and a new headquarters location. But one thing that hasn’t changed since then is the presence of Larry James and John Greenan.

Individually, these two guys are very different. Larry is charismatic and energetic, and willing to fly in the face of social injustice. On the other hand, John is rather quiet and demure, and approaches issues systematically, sans emotion.

Together, they give new meaning to the expression that two heads are better than one. Their combined intellect, compassion for people, passion for life, and their sheer dogged determination creates a duo that is truly something to behold. They are the true leaders of this community – the men who show up and work for the people and for the city every day, no matter what - no matter the weather, no matter the stress, no matter the sleepless nights, no matter the problems, no matter the obstacles, no matter the nay-sayers.

Larry and John do not give up. They have made a commitment to their work and a commitment to all the people of this community that they will keep on keepin’ on. For all of us who have the opportunity to work with them, there are many moments that do seem rather like madness, but there are those other moments that are truly magical.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Just thinking…


I think this has been one of the coldest winters that I can recall for the Dallas area. First there was the 11-inch snowstorm and now they are predicting yet another snowstorm for Tuesday. Old Man Winter will simply not give up. But it’s been sort of nice and a change from the normal.

Is it just me, or do the Winter Olympics seem sort of boring and exhausting to watch? Just food for thought.

Looking forward to the grand opening of CityWalk at Akard on March 25th. Sounds like there is going to be a pretty decent sized crowd. I would be willing to bet people who had seen the building prior when compared to now will be very, very impressed.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Black History Month - Jackie Robinson


Jackie Robinson became the first African-American of the 20th century to join Major League baseball in 1947. He endured mistreatment from fellow ballplayers and baseball fans with quiet dignity and paved the way for the integration of America's favorite pastime.

He played with the Brooklyn Dodgers earning the honor of Rookie of the Year in 1947, Most Valuable Player in 1949, and winning the World Series Championship with the Dodgers in 1955. He retired in 1956 with an impressive batting average of .311 and became active in civil rights, business, and politics serving as Vice President of Community Relations at Chock Full O' Nuts, Special Assistant to New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller and marching on Washington with Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963.

You can learn more about Jackie Robinson here.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Black History Month – Rosa Parks


Rosa Parks was a modest seamstress on her way home from work when she refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. That single act of defiance on December 1st 1955 is remembered as the start of the civil rights movement and she is respectfully remembered as the mother of the civil rights movement.

Although many had refused to comply with segregation laws before, Mrs. Parks' humility and strength of character made her an ideal candidate for the NAACP and Women's Rights Movement to rally behind and organize a boycott in protest of her arrest and trial. The boycott lasted 381 days, forcing the government to overturn segregation laws and also launched a then little known preacher and activist, Martin Luther King Jr.

Mrs. Parks' accomplishments leading up to her fateful bus ride, included receiving her high school diploma later in life, and registering to vote, both rare and major accomplishments for African-American women of her day. After she was thrust into the spotlight, Rosa Parks continued her commitment to civil rights by attending marches, co-founding the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development and publishing and speaking about her perseverance.

Read more about Rosa Parks here.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Our dolly’s full again!


With donations, that is! A big thank you goes out to Belinda Oler, who donated some really great household goods to help furnish the apartments at CityWalk.

For more information on how you can assist our low-income and formerly homeless residents in furnishing their new apartments, please contact me at or 214.573.2570 ext. 2133. We are in need of beds and small furniture items for our one and two bedroom units.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Monumental Changes


We are quickly approaching the date of the building’s grand opening; I was not here from the inception, however, I have witnessed monumental changes just within the last month or so. I am very excited to see the address 511 illuminated with the neon gas here in a little over a week’s time. Obviously it will take some time, but once the office spaces on the second floor have been leased, the retail has been leased, and all residences have been rented this will be a busy building to say the very least.

I am pleased to see downtown being built up. I’ve always told people that downtown needed a face-lift, making it much more vibrant and attractive to call downtown Dallas home. Although, it is tough to compete with the Uptown area since so much money and time has been put into building that area up, we are just a hop-skip-and- a-jump away, just over the bridge from that area.

I recently saw the pictures of this building prior to it being taken over by Central Dallas CDC and Central Dallas Ministries and renovated. I was shocked at what terrible condition the building was in and how the building has progressed and morphed into what is now a suitable and very nice location to both work and live. Okay, so there have possibly been a few days of Polar Bear weather in the Central Dallas CDC office space, but that was a tiny glitch on the radar when taken into consideration the dedicated, brilliant work that has been performed here at 511 N. Akard St. to make a miracle come true.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bucket List


I have to say I have been lucky enough to accomplish most of my “bucket list”(play tennis for a college, work in a casino in Las Vegas, visit Europe, skydive, and run a marathon just to name a few). One thing that I have not done yet is live in a big city, like New York City or Chicago.

What is most funny to me about wanting to live in a big city was my reason for doing so. It was not the nightlife, the dining, the opera, or museums, but being able to get where I wanted to go on a train/subway. I am not really sure where the romance of mass transit comes from, probably because I really do not like to drive as must as I like to watch life.

Now that Central Dallas CDC has moved downtown to 511 N. Akard, I have been riding DART into work. Barring a few mishaps, like missing a train by a second and losing my ticket and trying to sweet talk a DART officer out of one (by the way it doesn’t work), I have loved riding the train. It is 13 minutes each way that I can talk with fellow employees, sit and read, talk with other riders, or just watch Dallas go by.

It’s not quite living in New York City, but for now it will do.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

511 N. Akard


All photos by Shell Blanscet –

Coming in and out of my lovely new office day in and day out, I suppose that I have started to take for granted all the work that it took to rehab this old building. So, I thought a little trip down memory lane would be appropriate.

It still amazes me that there were, and perhaps still are, people who thought that it was/is a bad idea for us to rehab the building at 511 N. Akard. Seriously?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

We love our donors!


Rose McElyea, one of our favorite donors, brought a dolly full of women’s clothing, household goods and non-perishable food items to CityWalk yesterday. These items will help us build our clothes closet and food pantry for our residents. The items were donated by Rose, Danielle Gardner, and McKool Smith employees.

Thanks so much everyone!

Monday, February 15, 2010

CityWalk Home sponsorships still needed


To anyone who is wondering how they can be of help to our residents at CityWalk at Akard, this is a reminder that we still have several studios that need household furnishings. We’ve put together a list of items for the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen areas for $750 that includes the following:

Bed in a bag
2-pack pillows
Jersey Sheet Set
12-pk nonslip hangers
Underbed boxes (5)
Digital CD clock radio
Desk Lamp
Picture frame
Ironing board

9-pc cookware set
20-pc dining set
Silverware tray
4-pc produce savers
Can opener
5-pc kitchen towel set
Dish drainer
Broom/dust pan set

Shower curtain
Shower curtain liner
Shower curtain rings
6-pc towel set
Bath rug
3-pc bathroom set
Tub mat
Folding hamper
First aid kit

Any gift, large or small, is greatly appreciated. To make a donation, go to and click on “DONATE” or contact me at or 214.573.2570 ext. 2133.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The History of Valentine's Day


Every February, across the country, candy, flowers, and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. But who is this mysterious saint and why do we celebrate this holiday? The history of Valentine's Day — and its patron saint — is shrouded in mystery. But we do know that February has long been a month of romance. St. Valentine's Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. So, who was Saint Valentine and how did he become associated with this ancient rite? Today, the Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred.

One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men — his crop of potential soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often beaten and tortured.

According to one legend, Valentine actually sent the first 'valentine' greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl — who may have been his jailor's daughter — who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed 'From your Valentine,' an expression that is still in use today.

Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories certainly emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic, and, most importantly, romantic figure. It's no surprise that by the Middle Ages, Valentine was one of the most popular saints in England and France.

You can read more about the history of Valentine’s Day here.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

We love our residents!


Yesterday we hosted our first Valentine’s Party for our residents at CityWalk at Akard, and it was truly a special time. There was lots of great food and fellowship, and the bad weather didn’t dampen a thing!

Our residents were able to personally thank John Greenan, our executive director, who joined us for our luncheon at 511 N. Akard. Joyce Bennett, one of our residents, expressed to John that she now lives in peace because of the CityWalk at Akard project.

Everyone had a wonderful time, and we’re all excited about coming together again for upcoming activities. We’re definitely looking forward to planning many more events like this throughout the year.

Photo 1: Food, food, food!
Photo 2: Kevin Flagg, Naquanna Comeaux, Robin Loving, Jarita Sadler
Photo 3: Kevin Flagg, Robin Loving, Jeff Waluch, Jarita Sadler
Photo 4: John Greenan and Sharon Tillis

Friday, February 12, 2010

She’s at it again! (And we’re so grateful)


Colleen Lujan, one of our most diligent donors, and an associate (I need to get her name!) brought a trunk full of clothing and food (non-perishables) to 511 N. Akard on Wednesday. These items will be added to the numerous donations that she and many others have given to our residents at CityWalk at Akard.
Thanks so much Colleen!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Unsung Heroes Part III


Hey everybody - meet Curtis. If you come visit us at 511 N. Akard, you will likely run into Curtis at the front desk. Curtis is currently manning the front desk and operating the elevators, but before that, he had a big hand in preparing the units of CityWalk@Akard for residency. Curtis coordinated all of the furniture and appliance installation – that’s a big job when you are talking about 200 units. So this shout out goes to him. “Yo Curtis – thanks so much!”

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Critical Thinking


Did you know there is an entire organization dedicated to critical thinking? I didn’t know it until today. It is called The Foundation for Critical Thinking, and it is appropriately addressed as In case you don’t take time to visit the site, here are some basics for critical thinking in everyday life.

First are the stages of critical thinking development:

One: The Unreflective Thinker (we are unaware of significant problems in our thinking)

Two: The Challenged Thinker (we become aware of problems in our thinking)

Three: The Beginning Thinker (we try to improve but without regular practice)

Four: The Practicing Thinker (we recognize the necessity of regular practice)

Five: The Advanced Thinker (we advance in accordance with our practice)

Six: The Master Thinker (skilled & insightful thinking become second nature to us)

However, we cannot advance through these stages unless we:
• Accept the fact that there are serious problems in our thinking, and
• Begin regular practice.

So, if you can stomach the idea that there might be serious problems with your thinking, and you are willing to make a commitment to thinking more critically, here are the nine strategies suggested:

1. Use “Wasted” Time.
2. A Problem A Day.
3. Internalize Intellectual Standards (check back later for a detailed list of the Intellectual Standards)
4. Keep An Intellectual Journal.
5. Reshape Your Character.
6. Deal with Your Ego.
7. Redefine the Way You See Things.
8. Get in touch with your emotions.
9. Analyze group influences on your life.

If you are thinking that this “think tank” stuff is a little much, don’t be discouraged. According to the web site, mastering the art of critical thinking should be viewed as a lifelong journey. So pretty much like anything else in life, if you want to be good at it, plan on lots of practice and discipline.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The True Champions of New Orleans


If you have been out of the loop of life since Sunday, you missed a spectacular win by the New Orleans Saints in Super Bowl XLIV (44). As I watched thousands of fans descend upon the famous Bourbon Street in New Orleans, I was reminded of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Millions of federal and nonprofit funds have been poured into New Orleans for the development of the city’s infrastructure in its most impoverished neighborhoods.

A former New Orleans Saints player named Danny Wuerffel is a true champion and MVP of New Orleans. After Danny retired from the NFL, he began his “heart” work in New Orleans at Desire Street Ministries (DSM) as its Executive Director. DSM’s mission is to transform impoverished neighborhoods through spiritual and community development. Some of DSM’s current initiatives include Desire Street Academy (a school for at risk junior and senior African-American males), St. Roch Community Church (a multi-cultural church that provides outreach to the St. Roch and St. Claude neighborhoods), and CDC 58:12 (a partnership between DSM and residents of the Christian community that focuses on restoring and redeveloping affordable housing for low to moderate income families in the Ninth Ward area). Hmmm…DSM sounds like two familiar local nonprofits, Central Dallas Ministries and Central Dallas CDC, perhaps?

I encourage you to read about Desire Street Ministries in New Orleans. While you celebrate with the newly crowned Super Bowl champions you will be inspired by the awesome work of DSM. For more information on DSM, click on the following link:

Monday, February 8, 2010

Things Are Different Now


I remember interviewing our residents some months ago when they were going through the application process for CityWalk. They were either homeless or at risk for homelessness and anxious to move in. They would frequently call or stop by our office just to check on the status of their application for residency. They couldn’t wait for the chance to start their lives over again, as residents of CityWalk.

What a joy it is to now see those same residents on the elevator, in the lobby, or in the hallways at CityWalk, going about their new lives, with smiles on their faces and words of gratitude for our staff. Every day, we’re witnessing a transformation in the lives of our residents, and we’re happy to be a part of it.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Thank you, Mr. Miles

By Johnice Woods, Director of Projects

As many of you know or may not know, the month of February is deemed Black History Month. Black History Month was established in 1936 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the son of former slaves and a renowned scholar from Harvard. The purpose of Black History Month is to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions to America by Black citizens.

One of my fondest memories as a child is when my mother, who was a student at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX, took me on campus to attend a play entitled, “A Day in a Life without Black Inventions”. I was so intrigued to learn about so many inventions created by Black Americans. I am reminded daily of one of those inventions as I walk into CityWalk each day.

Currently, our elevators are operated manually at 511 N. Akard. This meaning, you just can’t call an elevator in the lobby and select your floor. Someone has to take you to your destination throughout the building by turning a key inside the cab.

So why this story? An African-American of the late 19th century by the name of Alexander Miles was a contributor to the elevator industry still used today. Mr. Miles invented the mechanism that allowed an elevator to open and close automatically when the elevator was not on the floor. He also invented a device that allowed a door to close automatically to the elevator shaft. Before this invention, operators or users would have to manually close a door to cut off access to the elevator shaft. Often people would forget to close the door, which caused accidents of people falling down elevator shafts.

So, when the CityWalk elevators become fully renovated and I am able to call for my cab, I will remember to thank Mr. Alexander Miles for his wise and useful invention.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Kevin’s Last Day


Yesterday was Kevin Flagg’s last day with Central Dallas CDC. He is transferring to Central Dallas Ministries, our sister organization, where he will work as the housing coordinator for the Destination Home program. This position is perfect for Kevin who has a passion for helping people overcome life’s struggles to become what they were truly meant to be. This is something he’s been doing so effectively as our community outreach assistant at Central Dallas CDC.

It has been such a joy working with Kevin. He is a genuinely caring person with a heart of gold, and we’re really going to miss him. But the good thing is he won't be too far away!

Congratulations Kevin!

Photo: Johnice Woods, Naquanna Comeaux, Nick Sowell, and Kevin Flagg.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!


On behalf of the residents of CityWalk at Akard, we would like to thank John M. Nolan and Lynda Zimmerman for the generous donations that were delivered to 511 N. Akard yesterday. The couple donated a host of items, which included a propane grill and a treadmill.

We’d also like to thank Jamie Beach, Central Dallas Ministries Thrift Store donations coordinator, and CDM Thrift movers, Martin Evans and Martin Bragg, for coordinating the pickup and getting the items to CityWalk.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Reaching Out


Yesterday afternoon while at the gas station I was approached by a middle-aged homeless lady. She did not want money or food; she just wanted to know how long it would take to walk to Addison.

Here was a woman in real need, not asking for money, and basically on the edge of crying. As any decent person should do, I gave her cab money to get to Addison. It just reminded me to always be giving, loving, and caring for my fellow man. It brought to mind how small my problems are in comparison to others and how we must constantly reach out to others no matter the circumstances.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The View from CityWalk


My favorite part about the Central Dallas CDC office is the great balcony and amazing view that overlooks downtown Dallas. It will be nice once it has all been restored to its original look.

I consider the inner part of our building to be pretty historical and dated. I like how much of the interior original material has been re-used and is intact. John Greenan and several others are soley responsible for bringing the building back to its original 1950s look, style, and feel, which makes it different from all other buildings in downtown Dallas.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Double Trouble - Karate Kids


A couple months ago I wrote about my son starting karate lessons, and his little sister has decided to take lessons also. So now, I have two karate kids! Jacob graduated from a white belt to a gold belt last week, and Gabriella earned her white belt on Saturday when she completed her first lesson. They both really love the lessons, and my husband and I love the karate school they go to and the principles that they teach along with the martial arts.

FYI – our kids are learning the Tenets of Tae Kwon Do, which are:
• Courtesy – demonstrating respect
• Integrity – keeping your promises (trustworthiness)
• Perseverance – always striving to do your best
• Self Control – controlling what you say and do
• Indomitable Spirit – never, never stop trying

Needless to say, as parents, we love the tenets, and the kids understand what they mean and are able to incorporate them into the bigger picture. If you are thinking about lessons for your kids or for yourself, and you live anywhere near the East Dallas area, I highly recommend Ray’s American Karate on Garland Road.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Resolutions… What resolutions???


Now that we've passed the 31st day of 2010, I wonder how many resolutions have been thrown into the wind. Have you worked out three times a week? Have you stuck to your diet? Have you started that plan to get out of debt? Many of us at this point in the New Year have begun to make adjustments to what we promised ourselves this year. But we've lost that renewed excitement of what a New Year brings.

At CityWalk, the newness and excitement continues to grow. We entered this year full speed ahead. We moved in our first eight tenants and moved into our offices. We are becoming reacquainted with our office neighbors and coworkers of Central Dallas Ministries, and construction still continues. I am sure this year will reveal many “unknown” changes and adjustments as the year continues.

Cavett Robert, an attorney, stated “Character is the ability to carry out a good resolution long after the excitement of the moment has passed.” So as the excitement of the New Year passes, I am encouraged as my character is being refined.