by Heather Reynolds
Prosper Person of the Year

We are so excited to announce our EIGHTH Prosper Person of the Year!! Each and every year, we say there couldn’t possibly be a better person to personify all of the wonderful things about our community…and yet, there are so many people in Prosper that are deserving of recognition. We strive to make this recognition a true representation of what the Prosper community is. So, we asked y’all to nominate your favorite Prosper resident and to tell us WHY you believe they are deserving of this honor. We received tons of responses and narrowed down the nominees for this year’s Prosper Person of the Year award. We then asked y’all to vote for your favorites…and we received THOUSANDS of votes!! Our selection committee then read through the nomination reasons, looked at the online voting results and read through the nominees’ answers to our questionnaire to select this year’s winner. Due to the pool of amazing nominees, the selection committee had their work cut out for them…but we are pleased to announce this year’s winner…Mr. and Mrs. Mark and Cathy Speed!!

MARK & CATHY SPEED – PROSPER’S PERSON OF THE YEAR

Please tell our Readers a little bit about yourself and your family:

We’re both from Texas, and have always lived here, although we’ve had to move many times within the state due to job relocation. We’ve been here 5 years and are happy to have finally settled more permanently. We love time with friends, any chance to travel, family time and game nights, time outside by the pool, and especially watching our 13-year-old daughter Caitlin in competitive dance. 

What do you LOVE about Prosper?

From the moment we first came into town, we loved the feeling of our small town. From our very first stop in town at The Cotton Gin, to Homecoming and Christmas parades where everyone turned out to celebrate together, we have loved the motto “We are One” and the sense of pride in our hometown. We love the tight knit bonds our community values, seeing neighbors and friends wherever we go in town and at church, and how everyone joins to support and help each other. We appreciate neighbors who are connected and close.

What makes Prosper unique?

It would be difficult to really answer this without acknowledging the tragedy we have faced, and the journey we’ve had to walk this last 16 months. Many churches all came together to wrap their arms around us. Groups, neighborhoods, so many people we had never even met. Yet they showed up with love, they became family, they stayed and supported, they have walked with us and loved us so well, they’ve met needs before we even knew what they were. We left town for a few days, in a fog of shock, and when we returned, we found our home decorated and lit for Christmas, meals were prepared, groceries were sent, loving gestures to give our daughter a reason to smile. We could not possibly begin to list all the ways people reached out to bless us, and the town showed yet again how they truly come together to take care of each other. Friends and families who have come into our lives this past year have shown us true community and caring neighbors. 

What is your VISION for Prosper?

Our desire is to carry forward the love we have received, as our town continues to grow. Our world has become increasingly isolated with busy schedules, social media, and more. Our passion is to keep building connection between families, parents, and kids of this community. We want to do our part to keep the “small town heart” in our growing community. One passion is for the kids, especially in Jr High and High School, who often feel disconnected, struggling with the “perfect images” they see on social media, and all the pressures of that age. They are our heart and we appreciate the opportunity to work with caring school administration, parents, mental health leaders, and community to find answers. We’re committed to dropping the “masks” of perfection they often feel they can’t live up to, work toward connection, educate, encourage, and keep an open door in our home. We’ve loved watching high school kids come to just hang out and find connection and relationship w/each other. True relationship is becoming less common, so we cherish its place in this town. Our vision is for Prosper to remain a place where families truly connect, through good times and hard times.

How did you feel when you heard the news about your nomination?

We were both totally shocked and moved by even being considered. For myself (Cathy), it was hard to know how to feel at first, because the differences we have worked to make came from such an unimaginable tragedy. There was a deep sense of guilt at being recognized. Now, I just pray that God will use our story to shed light on a dark path and bring some good from ashes.

 

CHRIS KERN – PROSPER’S VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR

Please tell our Readers a little bit about yourself and your family:

I have been married to my wife Gina since 1999. We have three children: Elizabeth (19), Ethan (16) and Caroline (13). In my professional career, I am focused on strategy and analytics for major business operations. We moved to Prosper in 2013 and love living in a town that lives by its motto of being “a community focused on families, committed to small town ideals, and providing a quality living experience for all residents.”

What do you LOVE about volunteering in Prosper?

“Make sure you don’t take things for granted and go slack in working for the common good; share what you have with others. God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship—a different kind of “sacrifice”—that take place in kitchen and workplace and on the streets.” – Hebrews 13:16 (MSG) 

What I love about volunteering in Prosper is that I always see this verse coming to life. People not taking their blessings for granted, but rather seeking out ways to serve and to share with those in need.  In Prosper, there is never a call for help that is not answered. Answered quickly. Normally beyond all expectations.

What makes Prosper unique?

Prosper is a true community. Small town values and families are what make Prosper great. I see fellow neighbors striving continually to keep this true even as we change and grow.

What is your VISION for Prosper and what ways can others give back?

With Prosper’s inevitable growth, my vision is that we attract new families who are committed to maintaining the same small-town feel. Families focused on being engaged with their neighbors and serving the community with enthusiasm in a wide variety of ways. When families and neighbors are involved in their town, we can make a difference that lasts. The opportunities to give back and serve are there and I encourage others to seek out the ones they feel the most passionate about.

How did you feel when you heard the news about your nomination?

My initial reaction was that there are plenty of Prosper people who do more and deserve recognition. I am grateful to live in a town where there are so many faithful people doing the work that needs to be done and not concerning themselves with who gets the credit.

MATHNASIUM – PROSPER BUSINESS OF THE YEAR

Please tell our Readers a little bit about your business, your philosophy and what makes you unique:

Mathnasium of Prosper is a math learning center serving students from 2nd grade through college. We are so proud to be in our 6th year as a Prosper business! We are about to enroll our 1200th student and have employed over 100 local staff members. We have the people of Prosper to thank for that! I’ve always said this business is about family. If we serve our students well, the success of the business will follow. I believe in focusing on the kids and the rest will fall into place. We are unique in that we don’t run our center like a business. It’s more like a home. I’m the math mom and everyone helps each other because we care. No one has ever been just a number to us, even though numbers are our thing!

What do you LOVE about the people in Prosper?

I’ve always loved the friendly feeling between the people of Prosper. We came here almost 17 years ago looking for a place where people waved as they drove past each other, stopped to chat while out walking in the neighborhood and lent a hand when someone needed it. That’s been our life here all these years. Even as the Town grows, the people we meet and those we’ve always known are generous with their time and their hearts. We celebrate each other’s ups and lift each other when we are down. We aren’t meant to be alone and the people in Prosper make sure that never happens.

What is your favorite part about owning a business in Prosper?

Our business is about kids and that’s exactly what I was looking for when I started this journey. After spending the majority of my early Prosper years volunteering in schools, I knew I would eventually go back to work. However, most of my friends were 10-12 years old, so I set out to work with them at my next job. Mathnasium has provided that opportunity and it’s been even better than I could’ve imagined! Some kids come to us because they have to, not because they want to. When we turn that around, restore their confidence, see their smiles and watch them walk out taller than when they walked in, I’m reminded of why I was led to do this. Helping a child is the best job in the world! We also have the most appreciative and supportive parents. I don’t have the problems other learning centers in other places have. We work as a team with Prosper parents to help students develop and strengthen their esteem and their math skills. It is a big deal and something I am truly be grateful for.

What is your VISION for Prosper?

I have the same vision for Prosper I’ve always had. My family has been here long enough to see more kids in the high school today than there were in the entire Town when we moved here. Fields and pastures have morphed into bricks and lights. Streets are wider and made of concrete; they are no longer winding and tree-lined or made of rocks and gravel. We can’t count the number of school campuses on one hand anymore and there is actually traffic around Town at least twice a day. Change has been hard to witness, but how we handle it is up to us. We can leave, but we don’t. That’s because we know we’ve joined something special. No matter how much the Town grows, I hope we remain a town and never become a city. That starts with each of us. I believe our motto is more of a lifestyle, “A place where everyone matters.” If we continue to treat each other like that and teach our children to live those words through their hearts, behavior and actions, Prosper will always be like no other and will always be home.

 

CORNERSTONE ASSISTANCE NETWORK OF NORTH TEXAS – PROSPER NON-PROFIT OF THE YEAR

Please tell our Readers a little bit about your nonprofit and what who it helps:

Cornerstone Assistance Network of North Central Texas helps families who are struggling financially. We do this by providing comprehensive services and building relationships. These allows us to help create an individualized balanced budget, help with job searches, and tell them the hard truths along the way because we have that relationship. Our goal is to help families become self-sustaining and teach the next generation to do the same. In addition to the intensive personalized assistance, Cornerstone hosts 2 major annual events geared to providing for local kids.

First, at the end of each Summer we host a Back to School bash where we provide kids with everything they need to start their school year off feeling confident. Studies have shown that kids walking into the first day of school feeling confident have a much higher rate of academic success. One of Cornerstone’s missions is to impact current and future generations by breaking the cycles of reliance on assistance, and academic success is a foundational factor in reaching that goal.

Our second big annual event is called Cornerstone Christmas, which aims to remove the financial burden that the Christmas season can cause for local families. Cornerstone Christmas provides families with gifts and decorations for Christmas day, as well as food to help families through the school break.

Each of these events are very large in scale and could not be accomplished without an enormous number of volunteers and partners who selflessly donate their time and skills each year, as well as our sponsors who generously provide financial support.

What do you LOVE about the people in Prosper?

The people in Prosper expect the best from our schools, our businesses, our neighbors, our communities, and our nonprofits. The people in Prosper have amazing hearts full of compassion and the desire to impact those around them. So many have a servant’s heart and volunteer at the schools, churches, neighborhoods, and all of the local nonprofits. We love that the people in Prosper think beyond themselves and give back with their whole heart in the area they are the most passionate about.

What makes Prosper unique regarding helping others?

The Prosper community is very generous with their time, their expertise, and their finances. The residents of Prosper always respond big when they learn of a family in need. One of the unique aspects of this town is that, even though we are no longer small, Prosper folks still have a small town heart when it comes to their enthusiasm for giving back. It is amazing to me that the “small town/big heart” of Prosper has remained even through all the Town’s growth.

What is your VISION for your nonprofit and what ways can others give back?

Over the past 10 years, Cornerstone has seen the evidence based comprehensive program change lives for many of the families who asked for financial assistance. As the communities around us grow, the financial need continues to grow. Now that we have proven that our program is sound, our vision is to scale our capacity to meet the need as it continues to grow.

BEST OF PROSPER 2019 NOMINEES

Seth Ringley:

The man behind so many, that never asks for a thing. Have witnessed over six organizations here locally on top of representing our community thru his own nonprofit across multiple states.

Jennifer Lutes:

Jen serves in so many ways behind the scenes helping people at Cornerstone, church and school. She is a quiet servant leader in Prosper – never wanting “credit” or calling attention to herself. Just simply encouraging, working, listening and helping people who need her. She makes it a family affair, always involving her kids and showing them what it is to love and serve people, expecting nothing in return. Jen’s leadership at Cornerstone has given Prosper residents outlets to serve others, making Prosper a kinder place to live.

Sarah Feuerbacher Wells:

Sarah has selflessly given to Prosper in so many ways. She owns her own counseling business in Prosper and helps numerous families and individuals through that business on a daily basis. She has helped the community by organizing and leading the panel discussion on Suicide following last year’s events, as well as follow-up events about that topic. She helps the ISD by presenting numerous times for them and going to each school and providing workshops for faculty and staff. She has presented for the Prosper Police department, as well as other area organizations and churches. She is a member of the Prosper Baseball and Softball board as the Communications director and regularly sends out entertaining emails for the league. Finally, she even finds time to help coach her sons’ baseball teams and soccer teams…even pitching some for her youngest’s Coach pitch team. All of these things she does completely on a volunteer basis…free of charge…except of course for her actual business. She selflessly gives to the town of Prosper in so many ways and on a day-in, day-out basis. I can’t think of a more deserving person!

Mark and Cathy Speed:

After suffering the devastating loss of their son in late 2018, Mark and Cathy have spent a tremendous amount of time in 2019 focused on the children of Prosper both officially through the ISD (Hope Squad) and outside (Parents-R-Partners). In addition, they have worked personally one on one with a great many families and their children to help them walk through the difficult subjects of suicide and helplessness. Their prayer is through sharing transparently, God’s light will shine on a dark path many are walking… too often alone. Both Mark and Cathy exemplify a selfless nature in giving back to Prosper despite their immense grief. Truly deserving of being Prosper’s Couple of the Year.

Josh Allen:

In 2019, the Prosper Baseball and Softball Association launched an Adaptive Baseball/Softball program to allow Special Needs children to play baseball and softball in Prosper. Previous to the launch of the program, Special Needs children traveled to Arlington and Frisco to play baseball/softball in Miracle League. Josh Allen and his Prosper Texans baseball team financially contributed to the new League. In additional to their financial contributions, Josh and his team participated in the program as “Buddies” helping the Adaptive Players.

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PROSPER"S VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR NOMINEES:

Jason Earp:

An organization is only as good as the sum of all parts. As PYSA president, Jason gives his time freely to parents and athletes of all ages. PYSA provides opportunities for children to try new sports for the first time or to progress and grow in their chosen sport. Prosper is fortunate to have PYSA and its volunteers. If you know Jason, family and faith and community are very important to him. We have watched him be a positive role model. Sports are a large part of our community and having volunteers like Jason, show our children dedication, determination and hard work grow your character.

Rebekah Land:

Rebekah has been deeply involved with Town of Prosper Parks & Recreation for over 6 years. She is currently on the board. She has represented the growing town and facilitated naming parks, ribbon cuttings and the excitement of Frontier Parks growth. Since 2013, Rebekah has been stage manager of the successful festive Prosper Christmas festival.

Chris Kern:

Miracle League, Cornerstone NCT (Board member), Bethlehem Place, Veteran’s Memorial, Lion’s Club and Prosper’s Planning & Zoning Commission, Hope Fellowship Prosper. Chris (and Gina) are invested and involved in many capacities in Prosper and have helped countless people. The town wouldn’t be the same without the Kerns!

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PROSPER'S BUSINESS OF THE YEAR NOMINEES:

Mathnasium:

Jenn Sanchez and her staff have passion for all of Prosper’s students. She is a ball of encouragement and promotes each student to achieve progression in Math. She advocates for students and assures parents every day. I think all Prosper kids go to her.

Prosper Chiropractic & Wellness Center:

Dr. John Perriton loves people and loves Prosper! His chiropractic office is caring, compassionate, and provides amazing services for the people of Prosper- children, teens, adults, the elderly. Dr. Perriton cares about his patients personally, spends time with them, and always does what is best for them. EVERY business should be like this!

Bodine Orthodontics:

While Bodine Ortho makes Prosper smile with straight and shiny teeth, the business is so much more than that. They generously support so many organizations in Prosper without hesitation. You see them at every community event having fun and investing in the people who live here. Their involvement goes way beyond simply marketing themselves because they do so much behind the scenes as well. They truly care about Prosper and its residents and it shows!

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PROSPER'S NON-PROFIT OF THE YEAR NOMINEES:

Cornerstone NCT:

Helps people in need/crisis get back and stay on their feet. Plus does 2 huge community events – Back to School and Christmas that gives kids what they need to be successful in school and have a great Christmas.

Prosper Education Foundation:

PEF does so much for the students and teachers at PISD. From giving scholarship money to graduating Seniors to recognizing the efforts of teachers at every campus each month, they are constantly supporting the district.

Prosper Ladies Association:

The volunteers for PLA are very generous with their time and resources. They do the Angel Tree donations and also host and provide food for the Prosper Police and Fire Banquets. These ladies are always willing to help out when needed.

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