19 in 2019 Features
DANIEL KIMBLEY WAYNE SHAFER SANDRA ACKERMAN ANNA NEMETH
RACHEL COLEMAN ELSA STUART LYNDCEE BARRAGATO BETHANY ZELASKO
BRITTANY CASEY WILLIAM CAPISANO MANNY JURADO BARBARA JOHANNES
MIKE DARNOLD ANNIE STOECKMANN CYNDI ELDERS BILL SARROS
#1 – Dr. Daniel Kimbley
When we embarked on our 19 in 2019 campaign, we wanted to solicit stories from within our community that embodied Dana Point’s motto of “Harboring the Good Life.” These people may work, live, or volunteer in the community, and are nominated by someone in Dana Point familiar with their positive endeavors and community spirit.
Dr. Daniel has given back to the Dana Point Community by sponsoring the Dana Hills High School girls basketball team, donating and participating the Taste of Dana event, and volunteering for the Dana Hills Grad Nite event. He and his wife Heather, also regularly volunteer for The Just Like Me Foundation events, the Dana Point Lobster Fest, the Doheny Blues Festival, the Senior Thanksgiving Luncheon, and the Boys and Girls Club Holiday Homework Drive. In addition, they are active sponsors and participants in the John Malcolm Elementary PTA and helped sponsor the first ever Healthy Kids Running Series in Laguna Niguel. All of this while being in their first year of business.Our first profile is Dr. Daniel Kimbley, who not only lives in Dana Point but his business – Nexus Family Chiropractic – is less than a mile away from his home in the Lantern District of Dana Point. In addition to living and working in the community, Kimbley has volunteered for numerous events with the Monarch Beach Sunrise Rotary Club, is an Ambassador for the Chamber of Commerce, and supports a number of professional organizations inside of the chiropractic profession and locally in Dana Point.
“We loved the people, the beaches, the surf culture, and the lack of big-box or chain stores in the area. We knew without a doubt this is the community we wanted to not only have a business in, but contribute to as much as possible, and raise a family in.”
Kimbley has more than a passion for helping people with their physical ailments. He has a distinguished career guiding the young minds of America. With a degree in Secondary English Education from Indiana University—Purdue University Indianapolis, Kimbley began teaching at the largest high school in Indiana, where he grew increasingly interested in the brain, childhood stress, and its implications on how kids learn and become successful as adults.
He began developing new teaching strategies that taught soft skills, focusing on grit, willpower, curiosity, and creativity. As he started implementing concepts that had never been done in a classroom setting, administrators began asking him to mentor other teachers. He became the AVID Coordinator for the high school, taught 10th-grade honors English, and an inclusion American Literature class with juniors.
As all of these changes in his teaching career were happening, he was simultaneously learning more about the chiropractic care he had just experienced as a patient. What he discovered is that the same part of the brain he was learning about to make a greater impact with his students in the classroom was the same part of the brain that was highly influenced by the chiropractic adjustment.
The longer he taught, especially in his students with autism, ADHD, and other learning disabilities, he began to ask the question, “What if these students were under chiropractic care to increase academic performance and further influence the part of the brain responsible for success?” He then had the epiphany that to create a lasting impact in entire communities and generations of people, he needed to become a Doctor of Chiropractic to provide the care he so desperately knew his students needed. His goal was to teach these principles about the nervous system, learning, and success to entire families.
In 2014, Dr. Kimbley resigned from teaching, took the summer off and then began working on his Doctorate of Chiropractic. He and his wife Heather began to look for a permanent home for their practice. They had two prerequisites: water and a warm year-round climate. That left them looking to either Florida or Southern California. Two years in a row, they traveled the coast of California and fell in love with the small-town vibe of Dana Point.
In December of 2017, Kimbley graduated from Life University in Marietta, Georgia earning the Clinic Excellence Award for outstanding clinical skills for his graduating class. He was also awarded a Core Proficiency Award for Relationship Skill and Communication Theory.
Kimbley created Nexus Family Chiropractic because he had a passion for educating and supporting whole families by improving connections and relationships, health and healing, as well as giving back through many volunteer opportunities. The Kimbleys always choose to shop local and support local businesses as much as possible. All of this has been by design to serve the community they live in.
#2 – Wayne Penn-Schafer
Surf legend and Capo Beach icon Wayne Penn-Schafer has been a part of Dana Point’s small-town surf history since the 1950s. Friends with Hobie for over 40 years, Wayne and Hobie tested the first ever Hobie Cat on the beach in front of Wayne’s Beach Road home. Since then, Wayne has become a Director of the Hobie Memorial Foundation, a contributor to the Surfing Heritage Museum and Cultural Center, and a member of an informal Surf Club called Poche, along with other Dana Point legends like Walter Hoffman. Wayne still surfs and paddleboards in his late 80s.
Wayne Graduated from North Hollywood High School and went on to attend Los Angeles City College for two years, where he would be introduced to surfing by a group of Veterans who returned from serving our country on the GI Bill. Little did he know his life would change forever. Wayne’s new friends spent their weekends surfing at San Onofre, which sparked Wayne’s interest in the sport. He went from being a “Valley kid” to hanging out in Hobie Alter’s garage.
In June of 1953, Wayne’s mother purchased her Capo Beach home and Wayne landed a job at Walt Disney Studios, where he was an assistant film editor. He commuted back and forth for a few years because working for Walt Disney himself was a magical time for Wayne.
Eventually, he put his life savings into Dana Point and purchased the last lot on Beach Road, right next to his family’s home. It was the start of Wayne’s 30-year career as a real-estate broker and investor.
There was no steady employment in Dana Point in the 1960s, so after his stint at Disney, Wayne took odd jobs here and there for a few years, lifeguarding in San Clemente and helping fishermen set traps. He also did side projects for Hobie as the company took off.
Wayne continued to invest in Dana Point by working with a friend from school who was an architect to develop two properties that he still manages today. The first was at the end of La Plaza by the Clock Tower and the second was an office building on Golden Lantern and PCH that was built in 1964. Both of which are home to local Dana Point businesses today.
Wayne Shafer still calls Capo Beach home, still manages his properties, and loves to share his story with locals and visitors who want to learn more about Dana Point.
#3 – Sandra Ackerman
Sandra Ackerman is a Dana Point resident who is most commonly recognized as being one of the original founding members of CASA Animal Shelter 37 years ago. In January of 1983, Sandra, along with other volunteers and the Fire Chief, began rescuing and housing stray animals – with no funding. After many years of hard work and effort by the volunteers, a permanent facility was constructed in 1996. Today, it’s known as CASA, the Coastal Animal Services Authority, and oversees animal sheltering and animal control services for the cities of San Clemente and Dana Point.
Sandra has always been generous with her time, supporting both the animals and the shelter. She currently works in the front office on a weekly basis, assisting the public, answering phones and promoting adoptable animals. Sandra has been a long term member of the Pet Project Foundation (PPF), providing financial and volunteer support for the animal shelter. Sandra has served on PPF’s Board of Directors as the President, Volunteer Coordinator, and has chaired many of their fundraisers throughout the years. As a Board member, Sandra was involved with the oversight of PPF’s role in shelter operations. She has contributed her time and opened her home to house hospice foster animals when needed – caring for as many as 6 animals at a time who are recovering from surgery or older pets that have a lesser chance of being adopted.
Sandra has played a key role in all of PPF’s annual fundraising events and continues to play an instrumental role in the success of the Pet Project Foundation and their relationship with CASA.
Sandra has dedicated most of her life to serving the animals who also call Dana Point home, and she doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. It’s people like Sandra that make our city a truly special community.When Sandra doesn’t have her hands full with our local furry friends, she spends time in Africa where she learned of the poor conditions of young children. This sparked Sandra, along with other Dana Point residents, to create a group called Sopa Kenya, which means hello in Maasai. They formed a 501(c)3 and started raising funds for bathrooms, desks, tablets and whatever the school principals in Kenya needed.
#4 – Anna Nemeth
There may be nobody that resonates with kids more than their peers. The Kids Helping Kids Club of Dana Hills High School led by President Anna Nemeth has been an inspiration to the RH Dana Elementary School community and students all year. While other high school students are thinking about what they are going to do with friends and what they are going to wear, Anna and her club members volunteer hours of their time to help RH Dana Elementary School, as well as, other schools and organizations in the Dana Point/Laguna Niguel area. As president of the Kids Helping Kids Club at Dana Hills High School, Anna made contact with Principal Kristen Nelson in the
summer before school started to offer tutoring help from club members. Anna and her peers go every Wednesday to offer tutoring, supervision out on the field at recess and mentoring of students. Having role models like Anna and her team means so much to these elementary school students. They look forward to their visits each week.
Anna and her club also decided that they wanted to give more to RH Dana than just their time. They began fundraising , holding different events throughout the community raising funds to support the elementary school. In total, they raised $10,000 for the school! Funds will be used to improve the library, PE program, outdated office, and provide much needed academic materials and equipment. Anna and the club members also helped organize a book drive to give students books to take home. Not only did they deliver thousands of books, club members took the time to read with the students. The RH Dana students are still talking about that special day!
Anna Nemeth is an exceptional leader and a person who constantly is giving back to our community. The students in the Kids Helping Kids Club of DHHS are kindhearted and want to make a true difference in the lives of others. They know that their actions can make a true difference. As a community, we are very lucky to have these types of young people in our midst and being such a great example of what it means to live a life of service in Dana Point.In December, the club coordinated a holiday celebration complete with art activities, food and hot chocolate. The entire club showed up, and the students were greeted at their recess with holiday cheer that put a smile on faces that will long be remembered.
#5 – Rachel Coleman
One of the main things our youth and many people well into adulthood struggle with is body image. From how they look in a mirror, to obsessing over body shape and clothing sizes, people can become overwhelmed by these feelings and fears that can lead to a lot of unhealthy habits. Rachel Coleman is a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist and Certified Dialectical Behavior Therapist (DBT) who has done extensive training in the Intuitive Eating dietetic approach. She also holds a position on the Board of the Orange County chapter of the International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals (IAEDP). She is continuously researching, consulting, and learning more about eating disorders so she can remain fresh, informed, and confident in her healing approach to the Dana Point community.
She recently joined forces with the Mary and Dick Allen Diabetes Center at Hoag Hospital to increased education to the top Endocrinologists about Diabulimia, an area expanding in its understanding. She was on the Board of Directors for the OC IAEDP for 5 years (serving all local ED Professionals), helps with OC NEDA walks and sponsors (last year was located in Laguna Niguel), and is involved in the Outreach Ministry and Childcare Ministry at a local church, Mariners South County on the border of Dana Point/SJC on a monthly basis.
Rachel has been a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist for over ten years, treating women of all ages and their families navigating recovery from an Eating Disorder. After watching her cousin develop a severe eating disorder that led to years of living out of state for treatment and watching her dad support her uncle while he grieved his daughter’s condition, she dedicated her life to better understanding what drives young, beautiful, intelligent girls to sabotage their bright futures with such a deadly disease.
She uses humor and authenticity to connect with the most resistant, depressed, suicidal, and medically compromised teens and encourage their families to help guide their daughters to healing. She has spoken to students all over Orange County, ranging from middle school to graduate school about body image, Eating Disorder prevention, and treatment. She is passionate about encouraging the next generation to banish diet culture, embrace their bodies, and be more educated about how the beauty culture works to manipulate their minds.
Not only does Rachel spend her time working with our youth, but she and her family are also a Host family through the non-profit organization Safe Families, which is a branch of Olive Crest social services. They take children in that are at risk for being taken from their parents by CPS and need to be cared for temporary so their parents can utilize resources and stabilize their lives and living arrangements. They have taken in six children to their Dana Point home over the past two years. Their stay is anywhere from five days to six weeks.
Rachel and her family are very active and enjoy many local activities such as paddle boarding in Dana Point harbor, hiking the Headlands Trail, surfing at Doheny, and riding the trolley during the summers while exploring new restaurants! They love browsing at the Farmers Market, Mermade Market, Tall Ships Festival, and having picnics during the summer concert series. Rachel and her children are regular attendees at Dana Point storytime, participate in Dana Point Baby Boot Camp on a weekly basis, and Rachel loves to do SUP Yoga in the harbor with I Heart Yoga. On the weekends you can find them eating with their kids at Lupes, Harbor House Café, or getting ice cream at Rita’s or Baskin Robbins.
#6 – Elsa Stuart
Elsa Stuart was born and raised in Dana Point and has been growing Orange County’s health and wellness community for over a decade. Originally trained as a fitness coach, Elsa expanded her health practice as a certified Yoga instructor and started a small community yoga class outdoors in Dana Point just a few days a week with friends and family. 10 years later, iHeartYogais Dana Point’s #1 Yoga Studio, as voted by Dana Point Times readers, and Orange County’s largest yoga community. IHeartYoga offers 60+ classes per week, events, boutique fashion, international yoga retreats, and of course, iHeartYoga in the Park as the flagship class providing donation-based yoga overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Dana Point Harbor every day for over 10 years. Elsa and the iHeartYoga instructors reach over 50,000 students per year.
Elsa partners with local businesses to connect the growing health and wellness community of Dana Point with unique, mission-aligned brands and influencers in order to promote the importance of practicing and sharing healthy habits and living a positive and enjoyable life. You’ll see iHeartYoga and Westwind Sailing offering SUP Yoga classes, Frisby Cellars hosting iHeartYoga’s Vino and Vinyasa class, Marriott Laguna Cliffs partnering with Elsa for visiting guests interested in Dana Point’s fitness scene, and collaborating with VisitDanaPoint and local leaders to make Dana Point the #1 health and wellness destination in the U.S.
Elsa spends a growing portion of her time volunteering at the Studio and with its members to raise awareness for charitable causes. A portion of profits is donated to local and national charities including Be The Match bone marrow donor program, school clothing and supplies collections, and Rancho Las Hermosa Orphanage in Baja California which fosters dozens of abandoned children throughout Mexico.
Elsa and her husband John (and soon to be baby daughter) are proud members of the Dana Point community and rapidly growing health and wellness movement in Orange County. Elsa’s passions are focused on promoting the variety of healthy activities available in Dana Point Harbor, our beautiful beaches, local parks and merchants, and everything the surrounding Orange County community has to offer.
#7 – Lyndcee Barragato
Lyndcee Barragato found her passion for serving the special needs community when she was a student at Dana Hills High School.
During her sophomore year, she served as a teacher’s assistant for the STEPS (Special Education) class, and the experience changed her life forever. After befriending and getting to know many of the students in the STEPS class at DHHS, Lyndcee found that the majority of these students didn’t have many social opportunities outside the hours of school.
Once Lyndcee graduated from DHHS in 2013, she headed off to CSUSM to pursue her degree in Communications, while at the same time, doing research on how to start a non-profit that would benefit the special needs community. On February 22, 2017, and during her junior year of college (at 22 years old), Lyndcee launched the Just Like Me Foundation (JLM)When Lyndcee came to this realization, she began dreaming of a program that would provide year-round activities for her community members with special needs.
Based in Dana Point, JLM is a non-profit organization that provides year-round activities and events for teens and young adults with special needs. Over the years, Lyndcee has built a partnership with city leaders in Dana Point and with members of the Monarch Beach Sunrise Rotary Club (MBSRC). These partnerships have given Lyndcee the ability to organize more frequent activities in Dana Point.
#8 – Bethany Zelasko
Bethany Zelasko was the first Dana Point Surf Club- DHHS scholarship winner last year and was chosen not only because she is an outstanding surfer for Dana Hills, but she also got really good grades. Bethany is also very active in the community through her church service. The Club wanted to recognize Bethany as a great ambassador for Dana Point since she travels the globe to hang 10.
Bethany Zelasko is also a brand ambassador for Killer Dana Surf Shop and is a dynamic and powerful young female surfer who has won titles in Southern California and Canada. Bethany is a dual citizen of the US and Canada. She was born in San Francisco and now calls Dana Point home. She was born and raised in the US. BZ is a Canadian citizen because her Mom was born in Canada and all children of Canadian-born parents can become citizens of Canada. She embodies a team spirit and is always willing to give a helping hand without being asked.
Some of her recent accomplishments include being a member of the Canadian NationalOlympic Team, 2019, and she is the second seed in July 2019 Pan American Games (direct qualifier for the 2020 Olympic Games).Bethany’s primary focus is to qualify for and win the gold medal in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Bethany is the second seed in the Pan American Games and will be surfing at the 2019 ISA World Championships.
Bethany is driven to be the best, her dedication and discipline to perfecting her craft as a surfer is a testimony to how much she wants to win an Olympic Gold medal. As much as she wants to get better at surfing, having a wholesome, professional, and healthy attitude is just as important to Bethany. Rooted in a solid foundation, she is a force to be reckoned with.
Dana Point is proud to have Bethany represent our community and wish her the very best luck on her journey to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
#9 – Brittany Casey
Born and raised in Dana Point, Brittany Casey has been an active member in our community her entire life. As a young child, she quickly found her love of the Arts and began to hone her craft through private vocal lessons, local choral groups, dance classes, and theater performances.
During her time as a student at Dana Hills High School, Brittany was a featured performer of the South Orange County School of the Arts (SOCSA) program, an auditioned-based visual and performing arts academy held within the traditional Dana Hills High School setting.
Upon graduation (class of 2000), Brittany attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and earned her BA from the school of Theater, Film and Television (class of 2003) and quickly returned home to Dana Point to begin working at DHHS/SOCSA as a walk-on performing arts coach.
In 2006, Brittany was hired as a full-time teacher and director for Dana Hills and continued to provide experiences for her students, giving opportunities to grow both personally and professionally.
Over her 12 years in the classroom, supported and inspired by her mentor teacher, the great Ray Woods, Brittany directed over 30 musicals and 20 dance concerts, among many other shows and live arts events produced by the SOCSA staff. She has taught English, Dance, Theater, Theatrical Production (stagecraft), and Musical Theater! Additionally, she co-directed the Associated Student Union for 6 years and helped it grow from 35 to well over 100 members.
Currently, Brittany is beginning her 2nd year as an Assistant Principal, still proudly serving her alma mater and hometown community of Dana Point where she lives with her husband, Ron and two sons, Geoffrey, and Oliver in her childhood home.
Brittany is a proud product of Dana Point and honored to be continuing to serve and build her school and hometown community.
#10 – Will Campisano
If you’ve ever been to Salt Creek Beach, you’ve probably seen Will Campisano in the tunnel playing guitar and singing for passers-by until the sun goes down. Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, he plays his favorite music as surfers, dog-walkers, bikers, and families smile and listen.
Will is an 18-year-old musician and songwriter who grew up in New York and learned how to play the piano when he was six. He moved to Dana Point in 2013. He took up guitar his freshman year of high school at Dana Hills High School (DHHS) when he was asked to learn how to play for “A Very Potter Musical.” Since then, Will hasn’t put the guitar down. DHHS was a place where Will’s musical abilities flourished. He was in multiple choirs, bands, and music classes that taught him everything from digital audio production to music theory. He was fortunate to have his teachers, parents, and friends support him through this time in his life, as it was very transformative for him.
Will has been playing in the tunnel for two years now and has had the wonderful opportunity of playing local birthday parties, marriage proposals, and weddings. He finds it to be one of the most rewarding activities he’s ever had in his life and would say the tunnel and the people he sees there every weekend are a part of him. Playing in the tunnel just started as a fun hobby with friends singing barbershop quartet songs at night. But as Will began taking his guitar there alone, he was asked to play for a wedding. From there, things got serious. He started going every day on the weekends at sunset, and since then, he hasn’t stopped.
A lot of Will’s inspiration to pursue guitar and songwriting came from influences like John Mayer, Jack Johnson, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Anyone who’s known him for more than ten minutes knows just how obsessed he is with John Mayer’s songs, guitar playing, and musical abilities. Will even wrote and released his first single “Weatherman,” which is now on Spotify and Apple Music!
Will just graduated from DHHS and will be attending NYU as a Music Business Major in the fall. He hopes to continue being a live performer in NYC and release more music as an independent artist in the future. Will will always remember where he started – right under the tunnel at Salt Creek Beach in Dana Point.
#11 – Manny Jurado
Dana Point has a team of very important people that serve our community every day as a part of the Volunteers In Police Services program, more commonly referred to as our local VIPS. The work done by these individuals helps save the City of Dana Point money each year in Police Services. One very important VIP is Manny Jurado.
Manny lives in Dana Point with his wife Rebecca and works all of the City’s special events, front counter, van patrol, and helps to train all of our new volunteers. He’s a go-to for everything and has given back a total of 5,745 hours to Dana Point!
The first few years, Manny did bike patrol, van patrol, and some front desk duties to learn all the requirements of the VIPS jobs. He especially took an interest in the front desk position at it seemed more challenging and interesting for him.
He then quickly became involved with the special events including summer concerts, Festival of Whales parade, getting up at 4:00 a.m. for the annual Turkey Trot, Winter Fest, Coffee with a Cop, Tip a Cop, National Night Out, etc. He does set up and break down, assists in the overall security assignment, as well as work Crime Prevention and Dana Point Police Services promotions. Manny also is very handy. He repairs and maintains the VIPS and CSU bicycles.
Currently, Manny averages 60 hours a month of volunteer time between van patrol (with his wife Rebecca, they call it “date night”) and the front desk. He commits a minimum of 36 hours, plus monthly training to TIP. In addition, he also responds on special calls where a Spanish speaker is required. He even has a special clearance which allows him to respond to the Children’s Hospital of Orange County calls.
Manny has also been a part of Big Brother where he advised and assisted teen boys and young men in a high-risk area of La Puente. In many of those cases, he helped with family, school problems, and general life situations.
He has also worked for the Special Olympics for the last three years volunteering for the track and field events and logistics. He can always be found cheering and encouraging participants too.
That’s not all.
Manny served as a call taker on the public information call bank for the 1994 World Cup. He was selected due to his language skills in German and Spanish. He was especially helpful since the World Cup is an international event. He also made a public appearance as “Stryker”- World Cup mascot.
Manny’s long legacy of service began as a Draft Board Appeals member during the Vietnam War and later on as the Draft Board became passive. He helped to provide emotional first aid to war veterans to ease their immediate suffering and facilitate their healing and long term recovery.
Manny is truly an outstanding citizen of Dana Point. Despite facing some of the toughest challenges in his volunteer work, he is always willing to lend a hand with a huge smile on his face.
#12 – Barbara Johannes
When it comes to the history of Dana Point, you may not want to go further than stopping to visit with Barbara Johannes.
Barbara knows a thing or two about DP’s history – including a lot about the historic homes in our beautiful beachfront community.
Barbara has lived in Dana Point since 1969 and resides in a 1928 Woodruff Historical home that has been restored. She is the current President of the Dana Point Historical Society – where she has been active since 1999. She has also served on 14 of the society’s home tour committees. She not only provided her own home on the second annual tour but has been instrumental in getting Woodruff and other historic homes in Dana Point on the Historic Register.
In 2018, when it came time for the Dana Point Chamber of Commerce to select their annual Citizen of the year, there was no question about honoring. She was chosen by past recipients of the award from nominations by chamber members. She has pledged many of the last years to community service and philanthropy, and she has been instrumental in significantly improving the quality of life in Dana Point.
Barbara volunteers hundreds of hours every year in Dana Point, but her volunteer work has made our city a more wonderful place to live and enjoy. For more than 20 years, she has been involved in a myriad of Dana Point community service activities which include: the Bowers Museum, Casa Romantica, Dana Point Symphony, the Hobie Alter Memorial Committee, the Lantern District Association, the Mission San Juan Capistrano Preservation Society, the Segerstrom Center for the Arts (formally Orange County Performing Arts) and St. Edwards’ the Confessor Catholic Church.
Barbara has worked to keep our City’s history alive while leading the charge in the spirit of community here in Dana Point.
#13 – Mike Darnold
Before Mike Darnold led some of our important youth programs here in Dana Point, he once patrolled the streets as a Fullerton police officer. But this 19 in ‘19 honoree hung up his holster and transitioned to being a family business owner many years ago. When he’s not running his retail and wholesale import business in San Juan Capistrano, Mike is caring for our kids!
Today, Mike’s personal and professional mission is to serve our next generation. Students know him as someone they can go to for encouragement and advice when their lives may be taking a dark turn.
He has built this relationship with our teens because he is approachable, and a fair, but firm leader who encourages team building and self-development through service activities.
To some, he is just “Mike” the life coach/mentor in room 300 on the Dana Hills High School campus, where students can go when life gets challenging. Some of these challenges can center around substance abuse.
Mike has been helping kids get healthy and to succeed for over 35 years. He is highly respected by his peers in education, city government, and law enforcement. He is a pioneer in his field, a leading authority on what leads to drug abuse, and a facilitator and advisor on escaping a life anchored by prescription and illegal substances.
Mike is in a unique position under contract with the City of Dana Point Police Services, with an office at Dana Hills High School to lead his program of student/family support for kids at risk. His office door is always open, and he says that he works with over 300 students and their families each year.
He has established some great substance-awareness programs. Mike is the founder of a sober school and the Early Intervention Team, a non-profit AOD (Alcohol & Other Drugs) Awareness program reaching out to educate and support struggling teens and families throughout Orange County. Most recently, he has accepted the leadership role of President of the Board for California Youth Services, a non-profit full agency providing adolescent and family counseling, diversion, interventions, and referrals.
Additionally, Mike serves as an Executive Board Member of Drug Use Is Life Abuse/Orange County Sheriff Advisory Council and has been a past president and member of many other drug forces and prevention throughout the county.
He has received numerous certificates of appreciation ranging from U.S. Congressional Recognition to Honorary Service Award from the California Congress of Parents, Teachers, and Students. Mike is certified as a Parent Training Facilitator by the National Parent Project Program. He has even earned “Citizen of the Year” honors!
Mike is humble about his work, and we are grateful to have him serve the youth and families of Dana Point.
#14 – Annie Stoeckmann
This 19 in ‘19 honoree traveled the world with her family before finally settling down in Dana Point. Annie Stoeckmann married her husband Udo in May of 1965, and travel around the world in a modified VW bus with their 3-year-old daughter, Astrid, in tow.
Annie and Udo moved to Niguel Shores in 1978 and then to the Lantern District in 1999, and she has spent the last 40+ years giving back to this community, and the outdoors in which she fell in love.
Annie grew up in San Diego, where she enjoyed an exceptional nursing career specializing in labor and delivery. She even attended Law School in her “spare time.” Annie has been involved in volunteering for most of her adult life. For her, giving back is just second nature.
After settling down, Annie combined her passion for the
outdoors with her love of Dana Point to found the Friends of the Dana Point Headlands, where she has been a Chairman and Co-Chair, as well as handling sponsorships and marketing efforts. The Friends of the Dana Point Headlands is a non-profit organization with dedicated members who actively engage in preserving the quality of the environment that is the Dana Point Headlands Conservation Area. They aim to inspire and enhance the conservation of the headlands to further educate the public about its importance.
Using her enthusiasm for nature Annie has worked with many organizations focused on preserving, appreciating and educating others about the outdoors. Some of the organizations that Annie has dedicated her volunteer time with include the Laguna Canyon Foundation, Crystal Cove Family Hikes, and the community service program Waymakers. She also serves as a docent at the Dana Point Nature Interpretive Center.
Beloved by adults and kids alike, one of her most recent accomplishments was when voters selected her as Grandparent of the Year at St. Anne Catholic School.
Annie is known in our community for always giving 200% effort into any project or task, and she works tirelessly for the benefit of others. She demonstrates leadership and collaboration for the good of all and is a great mentor for many in Dana Point.
#15 – Cyndi Elders
Since arriving from Houston with her husband Bob, 20 years ago, Cyndi Elders has made serving the community and youth of Dana Point her mission. This 19 in ‘19 honoree never ceases to amaze with how much she gives back to the community that she loves!
When Cindy first moved to town, she wasted no time joining the Monarch Beach Sunrise Rotary Club, where she has been a member for 20 years. She served as president from 2004-2005 and held other roles including secretary, vice president, and as a member of the board of directors. It’s no surprise that she worked through the ranks. She made an instant impression in 2000, and the Rotary Club awarded her the “Rookie of the Year” award.
Cyndi has spent her time in Dana Point on the Board of Directors, the Executive Committee, and as an Ambassador for the Dana Point Chamber of Commerce. In 2018 Cyndi was honored as the Ambassador of the Year.
Cyndi is a 15-year member of Keller Williams OC Coastal Realty ALC (Associate Leadership Council) and chair of the finance committee. She is a past member of the Sand Dollar Guild (Ocean Institute) and served on the Sign Committee for the City of Dana Point.
Aside from her volunteer and philanthropic work, Cyndi also loves working with students. She has devoted her time to mentoring rising stars at Saddleback College for the past 10 years. Additionally, she tutors students at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Capistrano Valley (for the past 15 years), and works with students at R.H. Dana Elementary School and Marco Forster Middle School.
Cyndi’s foray into education doesn’t stop there; she currently serves as the assistant advisor for the Interact Club at Dana Hills High School. Interact is a Rotary sponsored service club for youth ages 12 to 18 who want to connect with young people and have fun while serving their communities and learning about the world.
In addition to her enthusiasm to mentoring youth, Cyndi has a passion for cycling! She is currently the Vice President and Director of the Dana Point Community Cycling Foundation, where she managed over 70 volunteers at the Dana Point Grand Prix of Cycling for all 12 years of the event.
If you ever attend our community events, Cyndi has likely had a role in its success. Her volunteer work includes the 5th Marine Regiment, Dana Point Turkey Trot, Lantern District Car Show on Del Prado, and at the Dana Point Library.
Her dedication to Dana Point and our youth is an undeniable contributing factor to making our small beach town a vibrant world class place.
#16 – Bill Sarros
Tucked away in the building off Golden Lantern and Del Prado Ave, Sports Barber Dana Point has been welcoming in generations of customers for more than 30 years. The walls echo its name, lined with pictures of athletes and great moments in sports history. It certainly gives customers something to talk about.
But in this shop, it’s not the athletes that are the true legends. At the age of 81, barber Bill Sarros is often referred to as “The Living Legend.”
Alex Rentziperis, Bill’s cousin and owner of the shop, says his life would be much different without Bill. In 1980, Bill took Alex under his wing and taught him everything about the art of cutting hair.
Here’s where the legend part comes in. If you sit down in Bill’s chair, you’ll learn a lot about his storied past.
It all started in the midwest when he was just 10-years-old. Bill was working as a young shoe shiner and liked to watch the barbers at work. “One day, I thought to myself, I could do that,” said Bill. So, he did. That afternoon, he asked his Uncle Theo to be his first customer, and it seems things went well that day.
According to Bill, over the next few decades, he would travel the world demonstrating his scissor skills at conventions and eventually became the designer for Sebring International Hair. Time would be kind to Bill, as he has had 16 salons in those years, three of them in Dana Point. Bill shares that he even had a hand in creating something many of us use today, the hair diffuser.
Pictures on the barbershop wall will take you back to special moments in Bill’s life, like the time he got to throw a football on the field during the Rose Bowl. Experiences of a lifetime.
These days, things have slowed down a bit. Bill now spends most of his time listening to stories about his customers’ lives. “They’re like best friends you see once a month for a half-hour, just enough time to catch up.”
And after 30 years in business, those customers also know the story of the two cousins who have become a staple in Dana Point. Old school barbers who will give you a haircut, conversation, and a glimpse into the past – all in just 30 minutes.
#17 – Jim Miller
Take a walk along the Dana Point Harbor, and you’ll find the expected, a beautiful view, birds, boats, and a number of local businesses. Spend an afternoon there, and you might discover something unexpected. While Orange County is home to more than three million people, Dana Point has managed to keep its small-town feel.
It’s the feeling Jim Miller’s parents envisioned 40 years ago. After visiting Denmark and falling in love with the outdoor cafes, they wanted to bring a similar concept to Dana Point. So with the help of their son, Bob and Bea Miller took over Coffee Importers along the Harbor. They decided it was important to offer something you didn’t see a lot of back then, an outdoor patio where people could sit and talk over a cup of coffee.
One of the keys to Coffee Importers’ success has been its ability to evolve, according to Jim. “If we would’ve kept the original concept from 1979, we would not be here.” Over the years, they’ve expanded and added a deli, ice cream shop, and espresso bar.
While many people around town know Jim as “the coffee guy,” there’s a lot more to him than just beans. You’ll find him at a number of charity events donating not only his coffee but also his time. He’s been an integral part of the Harbor revitalization process and was involved in the unveiling of the Harbor time capsule. Jim is also a board member of the Dana Point Civic Association and enjoys hosting monthly coffee chats on his patio.
It’s a place that has heard countless conversations over the last four decades, and has given people a tranquil space just to sit and enjoy the beauty of Dana Point. But just as Jim has done in the past, he knows it’s time for a change.
Coffee Importers will be moving to a new location once the Harbor renovation project is complete. Don’t worry; it’s just a few feet away. The new store will also include a bakery and a familiar face. His daughter Meredith, an executive pastry chef, is the third generation of Millers to work in the family business.
It’s another evolution that Jim knows would make his parents proud. “Their vision was to create a gathering place for people to come and talk; this was their vision.”
#18 – Terry Rifkin
Focused, tenacious and dedicated are all words used to describe Dana Point local Terry Rifkin. She’s known around town for her commitment to helping others, something that’s been passed down for generations.
Terry has been a volunteer since she was just five-years-old. As a child, she remembers organizing community carnivals with her family to raise money for muscular dystrophy. At 13, she became a candy striper, and in high school, she volunteered to work with the elderly. “I always knew I was going to be in the helping profession,” said Terry.
Today, she’s really living up to that promise as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and well-known volunteer in the Dana Point Community. Over the last 32 years, she’s held multiple positions in the Monarch Beach Sunrise Rotary Club. It’s an organization that has ultimately given back to Terry by opening the door to one of her greatest passions.
“I never really understood the importance of my Dad’s service before he died,” said Terry. The WWII veteran battled dementia for 10 years before he passed. In that time, his memories slowly started to fade, and he eventually lost his ability to speak. “Some of his last words were, I was a soldier in WWII. He said that even when he didn’t remember my name.”
So, it seemed like destiny when just two years later, the opportunity to be on the inaugural board for the Dana Point 5th Marine Regiment Support Group presented itself. “I finally understood it, and I felt like my service was a way of honoring him,” said Terry.
Since 2007, the group has helped support local Marines and their families through important milestones like baby showers, holidays, and deployments. Terry is amazed at how many of them have kept in touch over the years. One Marine even called her from Afghanistan to wish her a Happy Thanksgiving. “You don’t expect anything for you, but you get all this in return,” said Terry. “My mother always tells me, Dad would be very proud of you.”