City honors women in community

Every year for 32 years, the city and community comes together to honor women who have made meaningful contributions to the San Marcos community through personal achievement and service. This year’s esteemed inductees are Amy Moore Meeks, Charlotte Evans, Clementine Cantu-Caskey, D.J. Domstead and Nancy Smith. The Women’s Hall of Fame Ceremony will be held on Oct. 19 at 6 p.m.at the San Marcos Activity Center.

Clem Cantu Caskey

After retiring from a 47-year career in education, Clem Cantu Caskey could have taken some time off to relax. Instead, the former teacher, counselor, librarian and administrator chose to utilize her valuable knowledge, experience and best practices in serving the community and improving the lives of local students. She ran a positive campaign for a seat on the San Marcos CISD School Board and was immediately selected as president, a post she continues to hold. In her two years on the Board, Cantu has guided the district through an ambitious agenda, including passing a significant bond and construction program, hiring a new superintendent and leading reforms that have resulted in increased academic standing and innovative new programs.

In addition to her many hours of service on the School Board, Cantu is an active member of the San Marcos Chamber of Commerce Education Committee, helping to foster cooperation between business, industry and education through programs such as the local STEM Fair, Summer Educator Externship Program and student shadow days. Recently, she volunteered to serve as a founding co-chair of Women United, a fundraising arm of the United Way of Hays and Caldwell counties, that promotes, advocates and funds early childhood initiatives in Central Texas.

Often, Cantu can be found at Bonham Elementary, reading to four-year-olds in both English and Spanish in support of United Way’s Born Learning Program. She additionally spends time with teen parents in community schools, providing them with instruction on the critical importance of early childhood development and education.

She additionally serves as co-chair of the Benefits Committee for SMART, the San Marcos Association of Retired Teachers, and has met with state legislators to advocate for the needs of retired educators. Cantu also offers her time and expertise as a member of the Board for the Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos, a community beacon for the preservation, development, promotion and celebration of the Hispanic arts, culture, heritage and values.

Kim Porterfield, in her letter of support, praised Cantu for her contributions to the development of the San Marcos Youth Master Plan. “Cantu is a role model to women across the city, motivating them to go above and beyond through kindness, understanding and engaging in local efforts to improve outcomes for our youth and families,” Porterfield wrote. “She gives children parents, and the San Marcos CISD faculty and staff hope – hope and support to improve our public school system.”

Nancy Smith

Give Nancy Smith a problem, and she will find a common sense way to solve it. Take School Fuel, for example. The problem was finding a way to provide weekend meals for San Marcos CISD children who might otherwise go hungry. The solution came after a Bible study on poverty inspired Nancy and a few others to start a pilot program. Focusing on childhood hunger, they started packing weekend meals and snacks to send home with 31 children whose families were food insecure.

From that humble beginning four years ago, School Fuel now provides 627 sacks of food to distribute at five elementary schools every Friday during the school year. Nancy has served on the Board of Directors for School Fuel from the beginning, and as secretary, her duties include website maintenance, social media, managing interns, fundraising and much more. Her love and concern for the children of our local school district is understandable for Nancy, who completed 37 years in the CISD as a teacher and technologist.

Nancy also puts her problem solving and organizational skills to use as a deacon and member of the Missions Committee at First Baptist Church. During her tenure on the Missions Committee, she has been the group leader for eight trips to central Mexico, supporting the Tarahumara Indians. She has also led several mission trips along the Mexican border, taught computer skills to students on trips to Guatamala, guided a group of college students on a missions trip to Prague and Berlin, and led a church group to work in West, Texas, after the plant explosion there. Recently when Hurricane Harvey forced the evacuation of 18 residents and three LVNs from a nursing home in Kingwood, Nancy welcomed them to the Regents Facility in San Marcos by assembling care packages and organizing a plan to meet their needs over the next several weeks.

As a member of the San Marcos Lions Club, Nancy has assisted with projects such as Youth Service Day, White Cane Day and the San Marcos Education Foundation Skeet Shoot, among others.

She has also been highly involved in Boy Scout leadership while guiding her two sons to the rank of Eagle Scout. She received the Spurgeon Award, the highest award given for adult leadership in Explorer Posts.

In his letter of support, former FBC pastor Mark Newton described Nancy as a servant leader. “Nancy Smith is a Hall of Fame woman already,” Newton wrote. “As a wife, mother, teacher, community advocate, and church deacon, Nancy is a picture of San Marcos at its best.”

Amy Moore Meeks

Amy Moore Meeks has been a force for change in San Marcos since returning to her hometown in 1985 after earning a Ph.D. in child and family therapy. Her degree reinforced her personal belief that healthy families are the bedrock of a strong society. She carries out this philosophy in her many volunteer efforts as she seeks to improve the lives of children and families in San Marcos.

The Hays Caldwell-Women’s Center is one area of leadership Meeks has been passionate about since 1986 when she began an active 10-year board term, including two years as president. More recently she served five years as a member of the Building Hope Capital Campaign Committee, helping to raise almost $4 million for badly needed facilities expansion at the Women’s Center. Meeks has also served on the Texas Coalition for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Victims’ Assistance Task Force and was active in the Junior Service League of San Marcos from 1987 to 2003, serving a term as president and helping to raise funds for local families in need.

Meeks has also been a vocal and hands-on supporter of maintaining the uniqueness of place that characterizes San Marcos. A former commissioner on the Historic Preservation Committee and active member of the Heritage Association, she has served on the Home Tour Committee for many years and personally opened her home for tours on three different occasions. Meeks recently has been a leader in the movement to protect our Historic Districts from zoning changes in residential neighborhoods.

Often combining service with ministry, Meeks is an active leader in the First United Methodist Church of San Marcos. For the past 14 years, she has led a multi-week Divorce Care Program at the church. She has also been a key leader in Young Life, a non-denominational Christian group for high school and university students. As sponsor of the Texas State University group, she invests in the lives of hundreds of Young Life students at their Monday night meetings. She opens her home for Young Life Leadership Training, as well as social events, with an average attendance of 100 students.

Debbie Chandler, in her nomination letter, noted Meeks’ numerous and varied volunteer efforts and the lives she has touched. “This is not merely a pattern of behavior for Amy,” Chandler wrote. “It is her passion. This passion, coupled with her characteristic ‘pay it forward’ attitude has enabled her to operationalize the values that she holds in achieving her vision for her beloved hometown. All of this she counts not as duty but as privilege.”

Charlotte Evans

Charlotte Evans has mastered the art of mentoring and puts that skill to good use in many of the volunteer activities she undertakes. It is especially evident in the work she does with Hands of Hope, an ecumenical ministry of First Baptist Church San Marcos which reaches out to undereducated, disadvantaged women to train them in life and job skills and move them toward self-sufficiency.

As lead coordinator for Hands of Hope, Evans recruits and trains the leadership corps, brings in faculty, identifies participants and organizes all other facets of the program. She additionally writes grants to help fund the ministry and speaks frequently to civic and church groups to promote the program.

Evans’s service at First Baptist does not stop there, however, as she also participates in the sanctuary choir, is a deacon and helps in the Cancer Care ministry, through which she assists cancer patients by transporting them to and from doctor’s appointments or treatments and providing meals for their loved ones.

A retired educator with more than 40 years of experience in speech pathology, special education and student teacher supervision, Evans is a member and past president of the San Marcos Association of Retired Teachers, known as SMART. Through this organization, she has raised money to fund scholarships for future teachers, collected books for Hays County schools and arranged legislative updates for members.

Since 1998, Charlotte has made positive contributions to the lives of students in the San Marcos CISD by representing them in admission, review and dismissal committees as a volunteer, standing in for parents who could not be identified or whose parental rights were terminated. She advocates tenaciously for these students out of her belief that all children deserve a level playing field in which to find success.

“One of her most influential roles in the community is serving as coordinator for Hands of Hope,”Dr. Chad Chaddick, pastor of First Baptist Church, said. “The amount of organization, effort and energy required to make this program happen twice a year for 10 weeks at time is incredible, and Charlotte embraces the task with enthusiasm.”

Debbie Ruiz, a 2011 graduate of Hands of Hope, said Charlotte’s mentoring made a lasting impact on her life. “Charlotte has the Lord in her heart and it shines through in her dedication to the women; children and the elderly of our community,” Debbie wrote. “Being part of Hands of Hope, I have seen Charlotte take many women and educate them to grow in Christ and to grow as women, wives, mothers and friends.”

D. J. Domstead

When D. J. Domstead joined the Lioness Club, now known as the Bluebonnet Lions, in 1989, she made a commitment to Lionism that has never waned. Over her years of continuous membership, Domstead has achieved numerous awards, including the coveted Melvin Jones Fellowship, the highest achievement for outstanding service through the organization. In just about every year of participation, Domstead has held a leadership position in the Lion’s Club, and she has taken part in a long list of service projects, such as community diabetic, health and vision screenings, reading and literacy programs, Kitefest, Sights and Sounds booths, pecan sales, Spring Flings and much more.

As past president of the Friends of the San Marcos Public Library, Domstead led a group of more than 200 members in fundraising and service to benefit the local library. She has been involved as a Friends member in more than 50 used book sales, helping to raise $100,000 for the library.

Three times, the City Council appointed Domstead to serve on the library board, where she was secretary from 2014-16. During her tenure, she worked on the facility master plan and was highly involved in the recent bond election that included a successful measure to double the size of the current facility.

One of the projects Domstead has taken on for the past several years is the beautification of the library at Christmas time. Each Christmas, she picks a different theme and makes the detailed paper ornaments by hand for the 12-foot tree. She has also been known to share her talent for arts and crafts with children by leading numerous greeting card craft programs.

Domstead’s training as a registered nurse has been the starting point for many of her volunteer activities. She has been the nurse at Girl Scout camps, for example, and organized and attended Red Cross training so that she and others would be ready to assist at a disaster shelter should one be needed.

In her letter of nomination, fellow Lion Judy Aswell described Domstead as a person who can be counted on to motivate others and make a significant contribution to the projects in which she is involved. “DJ is a fun-loving individual who enjoys putting a smile on the faces of everyone,” Aswell wrote. “She is quick to share a funny joke or story and enjoys wearing funny hats to bring about joy and laughter. She has an overwhelmingly positive attitude. What better values should a person have than to smile and have a positive outlook? With these two values, one can accomplish most anything.”

San Marcos Daily Record

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P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666