2019 Best of Frisco!

Here in Frisco, we do not like to brag, but we sure do pride ourselves on being one of the most unique, exciting, interesting and notable cities, not only in North Texas, but in the country! And Frisco’s finest are turning heads in local and even international news. Our community is made up of amazing people and places that have helped develop an unmatched charm and pride throughout the city, and because of these people, it has grown into “the” place to live. From community leaders and business owners to volunteers and nonprofit directors, there are countless members of our city who are more than deserving of a little credit for the amazing work they do. It is time to celebrate them! Frisco STYLE is proud to present the stories of only a handful of impressive individuals who have changed our city for the better. 

Best Mentor

Bill Boney 

Bill Boney, the director of His House, is one whose servant heart is changing lives in Frisco. His House is a home where young men aging out of the foster care system receive training through mentoring, life skills programs and financial education. “I wanted to serve in a way that would benefit those who are less fortunate, and my family and I felt a need to serve in the foster care system. We found there were multiple programs for women, but none specifically focused on men. So, I decided to start a transitional living program for young men,” Mr. Boney explains. 

The vision of the program is to empower young men to be self-sufficient, while raising a generation of young men in faith, hope and love, by affording them an opportunity to learn life skills while being mentored in a Christ-centered environment. “There are simply too many youths aging out of foster care and not enough transitional living programs,” he says. Mr. Boney hopes to change the trajectory of the lives of these young men. He continues, “Most youth in foster care are there through no fault of their own. They did not choose that life. I hope this program creates an awakening in the community and the City of Frisco, as the issues of homelessness, incarceration, joblessness and, in some cases, death, surrounding those aging out of foster care, will not simply go away. We need our community to get involved in transitional living programs in order to begin to balance the scales.” 

His House is currently in a donation drive to raise $75,000, which will allow the program to put a down payment on its first home here in Frisco. Aside from donations, community members can get involved through mentoring, serving as a resident assistant for His House, donating talents and services and volunteering. “Together, we can empower life change in these men, and we have the community here in Frisco that is ready to do it,” Mr. Boney says. 

Best Motivator

Jay Johnson

In Frisco, we value health and taking care of ourselves, and Frisco’s Jay Johnson shares that love for health, fitness and a strong heart and mind. More than likely, you have seen him either around town or on television serving as the Official Trainer for Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. 

Former Air Force brat and Army Drill Sergeant Johnson is looking to not only improve people’s bodies, but grow their spiritual hearts as well through his Fitvangelist Boot Camps. “You can only be new once, and nothing like this has been done before. I am a man of faith, so I want that to reverberate around the world through faith-based fitness. I believe we are the salt and the light. I believe people will see that through the Biblical teaching we are going to put in the hands of the people,” Mr. Johnson explains. 

Through the work of Fitvangelist Boot Camps, Mr. Johnson’s mission is to engage the global church with the empowering and transformative message of God. “We will disciple others in faith-based fitness with a focus on our identity in Christ as our motivation that lasts for eternity,” he says. “We conduct every workout based on a Biblical worldview whether they are small groups, large groups or personal training. They all have the same protocol as boot camp, which is to ‘lift Him up in all things’ (1 Timothy 4:7).” Through Fitvangelist Boot Camps, Mr. Johnson shares powerful truths about his courageous life experiences to help clients finish strong and fulfill all God has planned for them. 

Mr. Johnson has served as the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Trainer for 19 years, and the Cowboys’ move to Frisco was a positive one for both the organization and Mr. Johnson. “What is so special about Frisco? Everything! It is a model American city. Through working with the Cowboys, the cheerleaders and through my work at Cowboys Fit, I have been able to meet a lot of the community. The people are just good-natured, and everyone wants your success,” he explains. 

Best Example

Sal Salimitari

It is no secret that Frisco is home to an amazing melting pot of cultures, and both the city and residents love to celebrate all the stories that make its community and culture so special. Sal Salimitari has not only made a life for him and his family in Frisco, but he has made an impact on those he serves through his work in customer service and as head cashier at Sprouts. 

Mr. Salimitari was born and raised in Tehran, the capital of Iran, and became a U.S. citizen in 1998, after moving to Frisco in 1997. “Even back in 1997, when there was very little besides open land, I knew Frisco had enormous potential. At the time, it felt like it was on the verge of greatness. When we moved here, our house was the only one built in the entire block, and we were fortunate enough to see the neighborhood literally created before our very eyes,” Mr. Salimitari explains. 

Mr. Salimitari credits his personal growth through the years to his immigration journey, stating, “Emigrating to the U.S. in the eighties has given me a perspective which I may not have had if I was born in the states. I have been able to travel a lot and meet all different types of people. I have spent my life listening to others and I urge others to do the same. If we all collectively took the time to listen to our fellow man, we could learn a lot about humanity and even ourselves.” 

Working at Sprouts in Frisco has been a joy in Mr. Salimitari’s life, as it has given him the opportunity to meet so many people in the community. “I have gotten to know so many residents of Frisco through my job, many of which I can now call friends. I am rewarded every day by helping to improve somebody’s day, whether through a smile, kind gesture, good laugh or just mutual respect. By contributing daily to serving my customers, I feel like a part of something much bigger than myself. I am proud to be part of such a warm and loving community,” he says.

Best Innovator

Sarah Snetzer

Healthcare has and will continue to be a hot topic, and Sarah Snetzer and her team at Sadiant Health are changing the way nurses are able to provide care for those who need it most. 

Ms. Snetzer became the CEO of Sadiant Health in January 2017 before making a permanent move to Frisco with her family in summer 2018. She loves the feel of a small town mixed with old and new business growth that is unique to Frisco. “The Frisco community really steps up to support local businesses and, as an entrepreneur myself, I really appreciate that about our city!” she explains. Ms. Snetzer’s sister is a registered nurse who experienced first-hand how nursing shortages affected patient care at a local hospital. “She had the idea to create a solution that is similar to popular rideshare apps, connecting healthcare professionals to healthcare facilities in a timely manner, knowing it would help to resolve her dilemma. We partnered with a Frisco-based technology team, responsible for successful apps such as match.com and aa.com. Today, Sadiant has an app and technology platform that matches and connects healthcare facilities directly with healthcare professionals. Without recruiters and credential managers, Sadiant pays nurses significantly more and charges facilities significantly less. Everyone wins!” she explains. 

The mission of the company is to improve healthcare one shift at a time by doing their part to help resolve critical nursing shortages. Ms. Snetzer says she most hopes to improve patient care through their on-demand staffing solution that quickly places nurses where there are high-priority needs. This gives nurses more flexibility to choose their schedules and pay them more, which improves morale and reduces burnout. “Sadiant Health is improving the lives and careers of nurses every day by offering a flexible way to work for stay-at-home moms and dads, retired or semi-retired nurses and nurses who are employed full-time who want to pick up a shift or two to earn extra income,” Ms. Snetzer explains. 

Best Educational Influencers

Mike and Jenni Jensen

Mike and Jenni Jensen are movers and shakers who seek not only to better our community, but the little ones in it, as well. Hope Park, which the family had a huge hand in helping make a reality, and brickLAB, the family’s local business, are bringing play to kids across the city to keep their bodies and minds moving! 

The Jensens’ daughter, Nora, who has Down syndrome, was the inspiration for Hope Park here in Frisco. Nora was in and out of wheel chairs during her younger years, so the family realized there was a need in Frisco for a more accessible park for others with disabilities to play. They got to fundraising and, years later, Hope Park has become one of Frisco’s most popular parks for kids of all ages and abilities, complete with a sensory area.

In further efforts to build a stronger community, the Jensens have opened brickLAB, a creative maker-space building environment centered around LEGOS®. They hope it is a community-centric educational fun place for the whole family to enjoy. “I want to help the next generation to become young engineers, as well as develop a fun activity for seniors to keep the mind fresh. LEGO play is more than just fun; it requires 3D spatial reasoning, which is an important part of brain development, as well as a skill that keeps the brain working. It is exercise for the brain,” Mr. Jensen says. “STEM education needs to be available to all communities. I am driven to bring brickLAB to communities that may have fewer resources than others so they have learning opportunities, too.”

Best Volunteers 

Bill and Mary Jane Journey

Frisco residents have big hearts, and with those big hearts come big opportunities to help others. Bill and Mary Jane Journey’s organization, The Big Pack Frisco, allows the community to do just that – help. 

The Journeys have always loved the Frisco community’s ability to serve others, and were first introduced to Feed My Starving Children (FSMC) in 2008 in Carrollton. “We were drawn to the team-building aspect, the organization of the event and the huge impact of feeding children that we could accomplish in just two hours at this event,” the Journeys explain. “After five years of packing 100,000 meals each year, God put on our hearts to expand it into the Frisco community. I remember looking for service opportunities for our kids to participate where they could make an impact on others in need. So, in 2014, with a handful of like-minded people from our young families adult fellowship at church (and huge partnership and support from Stonebriar Community Church), The Big Pack Frisco was born. In February 2015, our goal was to open 3,700 volunteer spots to the community with a desire to pack 750,000 meals in two days.” 

The Journeys and the organization have had a variety of school groups participate, ranging from whole grades to service groups and community clubs, athletic groups and both the young and old. “This past pack, we also added a shift dedicated to the special needs community around our area and it was fabulous,” the Journeys recall. The Journeys and the organization have continued to look for opportunities to grow their events and the impact of their work. The need to feed starving, malnourished children around the world is enormous. “The children who receive this FMSC food that we pack now have a chance to thrive, as they can focus on growing into healthy, whole individuals, instead of only thinking about if and when they might find something to fill their hollow stomachs,” the Journeys explain. We have had incredible sponsors from the Frisco community over the years to help pay for ingredients that are packed at The Big Pack Frisco, and those that participate continue to grow.”

Best Global Outreach

Gary Schneider

Though Frisco is just a small part of North Texas, the efforts of those in our community that seek to help others span the globe. Every Orphan’s Hope founder and CEO Gary Schneider could not be more proud of the organization’s impact both near and far. 

Mr. Schneider and his family have enjoyed calling Frisco home for more than 13 years and are continually impressed with the city, its leadership and the incredible job it has done planning for and managing the extraordinary growth it has experienced. Mr. Schneider’s organization, Every Orphan’s Hope, believes every orphan deserves a future in a family. “For 15 years, we have been committed to seeing orphaned children left behind by the AIDS pandemic raised in a home, in a family and in a community where they are loved and have a strong sense of belonging and purpose,” he explains. 

Every Orphan’s Hope builds new families in Zambia by pairing up to eight orphans with one widowed “mama” who raises them as her own, while teaching them about the love and hope of Jesus Christ. “As part of our mission, we mobilize volunteers annually to travel and serve the orphans we are raising in widow-headed households in Zambia. We have mobilized 1,015 U.S. volunteers to serve with us for two-week intervals and almost 10 percent of those have come from various churches in Frisco!” Mr. Schneider says. 

The goal of the organization is to see orphans restored to wholeness of life. Losing parents in a developing country to a pandemic disease where poverty is endemic can leave a child with little to no hope. “Through participation in our orphan sponsorship program, the children and students we care for have gone on to great heights. We currently have three that have completed university degrees in law, journalism and public administration and are working and living independently. We have 30 more students currently enrolled in college, university and trade schools, and another 70 students ranging from preschool through grade 12,” Mr. Schneider explains proudly.

Best Selfless Act

Reid and Lisa Barker

Selfless acts often make for incredible stories, and Frisco resident and teacher Reid Barker was able to pay it forward through organ donation after his wife Lisa’s life was miraculously saved by organ donation just years before.

“My organ donation journey is one that began in 2014. My wife, Lisa, was suddenly and unexpectedly diagnosed with a one-in-a-million liver condition that caused her to go into acute liver failure. She was estimated to have only 20-48 hours left to live if she did not receive a transplant. On February 6, 2014, she received a healthy liver from a 15-year-old, Courtney Ray Sterling. Courtney’s dad, Michael, had made the selfless decision to donate his daughter’s organs after she was left brain dead from a terrible car wreck,” Mr. Barker explains. 

The Barkers instantly gained a different perspective on life and organ donation, and in December 2018, Mr. Barker decided to pay forward the gift of life by donating a kidney to one of his friends, former coworker, Jon Putnam, from Pioneer Heritage Middle School. “Jon is a Navy veteran, married and a father to four kids. He was in kidney failure and on dialysis for eight hours every night. I felt called by God to get tested to see if I could be a donor for him and had Lisa’s full support. We decided, as long as the doors continued to open for us, we would faithfully walk through them! Our surgeries took place on December 11, 2018, in Houston, and we are both doing incredibly months after the donation. I am back to work full-time, and Jon is enjoying feeling better than ever while living a machine-free life with his family,” Mr. Barker says. 

The Barkers’ hope in their organ donation journey is to encourage others to carry hope in their sufferings. “We hope by sharing the story of our hero, Courtney Ray Sterling, others will see that ripple effect of organ donation and keep pushing forward.”

Best Go-Getter

Keegan Brewer 

Many kids, from a young age, know what they want to do with their lives and know exactly how they are going to get there, no matter the cost. Keegan Brewer was one of those kids. Growing up, Mr. Brewer, a high school football standout, knew that becoming a firefighter was something he always wanted to do, and he ultimately put aside his college football career to do just that. Mr. Brewer was the University of North Texas (UNT) receiver who pulled off that infamous fake fair catch play vs. Arkansas in fall 2018, but the dream of being a firefighter ultimately outshined his football aspirations. Mr. Brewer recalls, “My passion for the profession steered more in the direction of being a firefighter the older I got, and I wanted to go ahead and get to a place where I would be able make money and support myself. So, that made my decision to pursue firefighting pretty easy.” 

Mr. Brewer, who is finishing his degree at UNT, began his career with the Frisco Fire Department in January 2019 and has not looked back as he continually seeks to grow and learn with each shift worked. He says the department is a true brotherhood and takes pride in the fact that it is such a community-oriented department. 

Mr. Brewer knows he wants to make an impact. He says, “I want to make a change, not just in someone’s life, but I want to be valuable to my department, whether it is in a training role or something bigger.” 

Mr. Brewer’s polite, humble and easygoing spirit is a testament to who he is and why he made the decision he made. Battalion Chief Kevin Haines says, “It is a calling to be a firefighter, and Keegan has a strong desire to help people. He is here every third day ready to learn and better himself, which is true of any firefighter in the department. Keegan is living his dream and it speaks to his character that he chose to come in and serve the community in this capacity.” 

Best Host

Rod Schaefer

Frisco is home to amazing restaurants that open their arms to host and feed countless families. Pizzeria Testa, a local Italian gem, invites guests and its team to feel like part of the Testa family. 

Owner Rod Schaefer’s Italian family roots are the inspiration for the business, as it is a tribute to his family and grandparents who welcomed so many to gather around their kitchen table for home-cooked meals and conversation. Mr. Schaefer explains, “My grandparents’ house was always a place to enjoy amazing food. On any given day, the house was flowing with people. Regardless of how many people there were, or what time of day it was, my grandmother always had a multi-course meal ready to go. The home was always bustling with life and full of passion, and that is what I have always wanted and hoped the restaurant would be.”

Since opening in 2012, the team exists to give back. “Our goal is to support the community both inside and outside our location in any way we can. We give back to nonprofits, ministries, churches, schools, hospitals, orphans, rescue animal centers, etc.,” Mr. Schaefer says.

Mr. Schaefer says the success of the restaurant is due to their hardworking, big-hearted, loyal team. “You know, we are just blessed. All I can do is thank God that He has blessed us with the opportunity to know and serve Frisco. The culture and values on which we are based mean everything to us.”

Mr. Schaefer and his team consider the community an extension of the family. Mr. Schaefer says, “At Testa, we have always had a wonderful and deep relationship with the City of Frisco staff and City Council. We really appreciate the tremendous job they have done, which can often be overlooked.”

Allie Spletter
Allie Spletter is a wannabe foodie and lover of all things pink and crafty.