WHEN THIS YEAR’S FEST1-vities surrounding the lighting of the city’s giant Christmas tree at Dallas City Hall Plaza bring shimmering good cheer to hundreds of spectators, Martha Hinojosa will be front and center. For Martha, executive director of H.O.P.R (Holidays of People Every-ll&ere), the event culminates months of precise volunteer coordination. Her preparations began last fall, arranging activities showcasing the varied holiday customs of Dallas’ international population.
Cultural appreciation comes naturally to this stylish, exuberant Dallas native: her father’s globetrotting engineering career enabled Martha to absorb several languages at an early age. “We lived in Brazil when I was little, so I grew up speaking Portuguese while my mother spoke Spanish. Dad was fluent in both, plus English, and my brother knew a little Japanese. Conversations at our house were pretty funny,” she recalls.
Summers in Mexico, along with a year of college in Italy, fed Martha s desire for a career path rich in trav el and exploration. Graduating from UT Austin with a degree mart history, he forged connections through me Mexican Cultural Center of Dallas and the Dallas Museum, of Art to land her post with I H.O.P.E.,. a program of the Dallas I Commission for International ’ Cultural Affairs.
“My parents are major influences in mv life,” she states. “Family is the common thread for me, especially at .Christmas.” The Hinojosa family celebrates another tradition at Christmastime, along with tamales and midnight mass-Martha turns 24 on December 23.
AS THE NEW PRESIDENT OF DALLAS Theological Seminary, Dr. Charles R. Swindell knows that people may misunderstand his job. “I’m not the night manager at a mortuary,” he laughs, “and please call me Chuck.” And whether careening merrily at full tilt astride his midnight blue and black Harley or hosting his international radio show “Insight for Living,” this energetic, 60-year-old native Texan personifies his personal adage: “Life should be enjoyed, not endured.”
Swindoll’s management style comes straight from the heart as well. “A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world,” he chuckles, “Isn’t that great? IBM’s new chief, Lou Gerstner, said that; he got it from [spy novelist] John Le Carre. Just sitting here,” he gestures at his imposing oak desk, “gets us nowhere. My job is simply making sure people feel rewarded and appreciated for their work. As 1 read recently, the leader’s job is twofold: define reality, and say ’thank you.’ “
The former Marine (he served in Okinawa) has penned more than three dozen books during his 31 -year pastoral career. In his recent volume, Laugh Again, Swindell suggests that some people squeeze joy from their lives by taking things far too seriously. “Learning to laugh again comes from maintaining the right attitude,” he says, “and attitude comes when you take responsibility for your actions and work at being unselfish. That’s the secret.”
The secret to his 39-year-plus marriage? “Cynthia’s the visionary; I’m the nuts and bolts guy. Our tastes are similar, though,” he grins, deep voice booming, blue eyes twinkling. “We both like the Harley’s gangster whitsewalls!”