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*Based 2014 Retail I N S Pon IRE C O A Total S TA L New BEND M A GSales . C O Mfrom Ford Motor Co. Sales Report 2




4721 Ayers St. 78415 I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M



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Why Choose us: Our customers come first. The Stellar Energy Solutions and Hudson Energy support team is made up of people who understand the industry and care deeply about helping you in every way. We are here for you.  Dynamic Pricing: We have several clear advantages over other suppliers, including market experience and purchasing power, which add up to more value for your business.

 Environmentally Sound: We see the big picture. As an industry leader, it's our responsibility to explore green energy product options and offer affordable ways for companies to reduce their environmental impact.

 Energy Advisors: Our team of industry specialists will work with you to create an energy solution that meets all of your company's needs from budget to roll-out and support.

 Fully Integrated Partnership: Stellar Energy Solutions partners with Hudson Energy because our business values align. There is a mutual trust in our white glove approach to serving your business needs.

361.884.8973 |

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America's #1 Tempur-Pedic® Retailer.

Nationally Known, Locally Owned. Ennis Joslin & SPID 7625 S.P.I.D 361-866-5838 Five Points Shopping Center 4101 IH 69, Access Rd #D4 361-248-1327 M AT T R E S S F I R M . C O M

Moore Plaza Superstore 5425 S.P.I.D. #178 361-866-5836 Portland 1702 US Hwy. 181 361-704-3010

Austin Perez “Donde Se Compra Mucho INSPIR EC O A S TA LCon BEN D M A G Gusto” .COM 5


BUSINESS COACH 14 Building a New Bridge SPECIAL FEATURE 16 The Silver Lining FEATURES 18 Hottest Deals, Coolest Events 20 Quirky Quartzes 22 Safety First REAL ESTATE 46 Taking Shape 48 Comfort and Confidence


TASTE 52 Win/Win 54 A Slice of History TRAVEL 56 On the Horizon INSPIRED STYLE 58 Roxanna Hernandez ENTERTAINMENT 64 Eclectic Mix NONPROFIT 66 Walking the Talk 68 Over 70 Years of Care


24 30 34 ANNIE CASTRO BREWSTER STREET ICE HOUSE MUSCLE MAKER A proven leader in the insurance financial services industry for 30 years, this awardwinning insurance agent continues to empower her clients at New York Life.


Having hosted nearly 2,000 concerts and more than a million visitors in the past decade, this dance hall and family restaurant is officially a staple of the live music scene in Corpus Christi.

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With their new approach to healthy dining options, David and Stephanie Hamilton provide healthier food options with flavorful appeal at this unique new restaurant.


Using a relational, rather than transactional, approach, the credit union helps members build their credit and, ultimately, reclaim their freedom.

Servicing Corpus Christi & The Island

(361) 688-8329

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ADRIAN GARZA 361.548.1044



EDITOR Allison Alvarado


• Gentlemen Cuts • Kids • Fades • Tapers • Military • Facials • Shaves • Manis • Pedis • Waxing

Mandy Ashcraft Colton Bartel Kristen Bily Kim Bridger-Hunt Kaitlin Calk Jessica Dusek Coral Dworaczyk Stephanie Kusy Connie Laughlin Erin O’Brien Sylvia Slezak Kelly Trevino Erin Wilder Sarona Winfrey

PHOTOGRAPHY Dustin Ashcraft Mark Joseph/Darklab Photography For advertising information, please call 361.548.1044 or email

“Come experience the difference” 5922 Yorktown Blvd. Corpus Christi, TX 78414 361-834-0311

For editorial comments and suggestions, please email

7957 Wolverine Corpus Christi, Texas 78414 Phone: 361.548.1044 Copyright © Inspire Coastal Bend Magazine. All rights reserved. Reproduction without the expressed written permission of the publisher is prohibited.

Long Family Commitment to South Texas Personal Commitment to My Customers Call us today and find out how much you can save! Farmers offers Auto, Home, Commercial and Life Insurance.

Ruben Bonilla Insurance Agency

2727 Morgan Ave, Ste 300 Corpus Christi, Texas 78405

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From bags to bows. Shop more than 130 of the finest names in back to school.


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5488 S. Padre Island Drive, Corpus Christi

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Great Food. Great Times. Great Experience. Happy Hour 4-7pm

7 Days a Week

5409 Saratoga Blvd., Corpus Christi 361.992.2333 Sun-Thurs 11am-1am 12

Fri & Sat 11am-2am

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5510 Williams Drive | Corpus Christi, Texas | 361.991.8383 | I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M



BUILDING A NEW BRIDGE The importance of healthy human resources


uman resources (HR) is the bridge between the employer and the employees. As with any bridge it needs to be built to code, as well as superintended by highly trained and certified specialists. When building a bridge, know your worksite requirements, talent capability and available technology. If a business hires an “HR person,” how connected is this person with the owner of the business? Does this person or department have the buyin and full support of management to implement appropriate human resource initiatives? And how does a business owner know if “HR” has the needed certification, training and expertise to set policy and procedures for their talent pool? These are all excellent questions! Preparing our workplace for a better tomorrow Without the buy-in of core management, any HR initiative will fall short. Each department has an end goal in mind; with that said, all must align their strategic initiatives to work in harmony with one another to ensure goals are met. HR must work with departments, not around them. Management teams might need strategies to engage employees for morale and production purposes, or the business might be downsizing a department and, therefore, counting on HR to ensure a smooth and effective way for them to see progress. Are your HR personnel up to the task? Today, many employers continue to ignore the necessity of HR. For example, businesses must post some federal and state labor laws, so if the “all-in-one poster” isn’t posted, one might wonder if owners are intimidated. Maybe they threw their poster in the trash rather


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than post it out of fear an employee might ask questions about a law and they aren’t educated enough to know whether a law pertains to them or not. Lack of knowledge always leads to low morale – and lack of knowledge when building a bridge may lead to death. Can HR quantify their role in a business as an added value, not just added work or cost? The ROI isn’t clearly defined for those who haven’t actually spent time harvesting fruitful benefits and appreciating the risk management HR brings to a business. So business owners don’t jump at the chance to spend money and or their time on the development of HR. For example, rules on sick leave and bereavement can become a real problem if they are not properly managed. Hire a labor and employment lawyer to help you write an employee handbook. Employee handbooks are very important – it’s mandatory to invest your time to create one. Companies without healthy HR programs might find they have unhappy, unmotivated and/or less productive employees. Fortune 100 companies are big on HR. Employees in management-level positions are trained in a myriad of HR coursework. They’re on top of employment laws, cutting-edge leadership skills and other proactive techniques and processes. While fortune 100 companies have extensive HR departments, they absolutely realize the importance of having everyone working with personnel trained, too. These skills improve production and lower liability for the corporation. Work smarter, not harder or longer Your personnel are your most valuable asset. Maximize their talents, train them appropriately, discipline proactively and tactically mentor each for abundant production. A business is

CONNIE LAUGHLIN is a business consultant for UniqueHR. For more information on outsourcing your human resources, contact her at 361852-6392 or conniel@


working at a disadvantage if owners don’t care or grasp the importance of having either learned the skill sets or access to a seasoned and certified HR professional. This goes for any type of business, and for any size, from two to 2,000 employees. Winning is about having the right people in the right seats on the bus. If an employee isn’t a good fit for the job, everyone suffers. Here, too, is an excellent opportunity for a healthy HR department to shine as they can assist in the hiring process. For example: What questions can be asked, what questions are taboo and what questions might be asked to uncover negative traits or one’s best qualities for a specific role? Change is part of life! If we do things the same way continuously, we’re doing it wrong. We’re stagnant if we’re not utilizing advances in technology, more effective ways of communicating with one another and staying upto-date with new laws and mandates. Reach out to an attorney specializing in employment law if you’re not sure. Wait – there’s a better way! Partner with a certified professional employer organization (PEO). When you utilize one outsourcing service company for all your HR (payroll, HR, workers’ compensation insurance, safety – benefits optional), you’ll receive a plethora of value. • Contained employee cost • Reduced employee liability • Streamlined operations, driving financial gain • Specialized and compliant procedures and policies • Certified HR guidance • Safety and risk management strategies • Efficient payroll administration • Cost- effective benefits Outsourcing HR is a growing trend today, and for good reason!

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Take advantage and save by actively updating your electricity plans. MOST BELIEVE we have three basic needs: food, shelter and clothing. As a South Texan, I have to add air conditioning to that list, because it is a matter of health and wellness. With summer quickly approaching, following a pretty nonexistent winter, most residents are preparing to crank those AC units down as heat and humidity move in. Traditionally, as the temperatures rise, so do those electricity bills. Countless South Texans have found themselves with an unexpected electricity bill capable of causing a heart attack. But sadly, research shows that residents only spend an average of six minutes reviewing their electricity bills over the course of the year. Why so little time when choices are available and savings are possible? It can be confusing, overwhelming and sometimes frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be. Most South Texans have the opportunity to select their energy provider and service plan that best fits their needs.  Those who shop, save. If


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you have not shopped in a while, your provider is likely charging more than what is offered to a new customer for the same service. Whether you are a residential user, a small business or a buyer for a large commercial enterprise, here are a few tips to help make your energy-buying process easier and bring additional savings: 1) Review your current bill and determine three things: a. What is my unit rate (price per kWh)? b. What is my contract end date? c. What is my total rate (total invoice/monthly usage)? 2) Shop, shop, shop. Who doesn’t like to shop? a. Compare your unit rate and total rate to those being offered by various retail electricity providers (online resources:, and suppliers’ websites). b. Choose a plan that best fits your needs and value. 3) Review the supplier scorecards at Electricity is measured in kilowatt hours, or kWh. It is important to pay attention to your unit and total rate, and any added fees or charges applicable to your plan. Many electricity suppliers try



to create the illusion of lower kWh rates by adding set fees or other charges to the kWh charges. Making a choice does not have to be complicated. While there are many different products you can choose from when purchasing electricity, most revolve around a fixed rate. Product differences fall into three categories: 1) Fixed or variable rate 2) Term (e.g. three, six, 12 or 24 month; period of time the rate applies) 3) Other services (e.g. includes a smart thermostat or green energy sources) Credible retailers avoid the use of complicated rate structures and can provide simple analyses of your choices. Be aware that some plans also include other features, like the inclusion of smart thermostats. While these provide new tools, the kWh rate that accompanies these plans may have you spending two or three times the cost of the thermostat on Amazon. In the business domain, other complexities exist. A business must determine what other considerations apply, like budget certainty, energy efficiency  promotions and changes in

their business that may cause energy usage to change. More than 70 percent of businesses in Texas utilize the service of brokers or consultants to guide their procurement of electricity. “The use of brokers is an effective strategy, and businesses should seek well-qualified  brokers to represent them in the marketplace,” says Tim Clark, president at Stellar Energy Solutions. “While Texas does not regulate brokers, many firms, including Stellar Energy Solutions, have strived to establish standards for the industry applying core values of integrity, choice and service.” While most of today’s headlines are focused on the significant drop in  oil and natural gas prices and how that may stress the South Texas economy, a silver lining exists for those of us who actively update our electricity plans. Prices being offered to South Texas residents and businesses are the lowest in over a decade, so why not take advantage and save?

For more information, visit Stellar Energy Solutions online at

3006 Niagara, Corpus Christi, TX

POSTAL AND BUSINESS SERVICE CENTERS  Full Service Shipping and Packing  Fine Stationery and Imprintables Crane, William Arthur, Vera Wang, Rossi, Faux Design, Oddballs, Stevie Streck  Full Line of Wedding Albums Carlson Craft, Checkerboard, Crane, William Arthur, Vera Wang, Envelopments

• Serving Corpus Christi, Alice and surrounding areas • Affordable funeral services and cremations • Prearranged funeral plans with low monthly payments • Family owned and operated since 1995

Honoring our veterans with a military casket at no charge

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120 E. Front St., Alice, TX

3636 South Alameda Suite B Corpus Christi, TX 78411

361/854-2771 Fax 361/854-0662

Corpus Christi: (361) 879-0085 Alice: (361) 668-1116 I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M



HOTTEST DEALS, COOLEST EVENTS Back-to-school, tax-free weekend and more at La Palmera




ummer may be winding down, but La Palmera is gearing up for back-toschool shoppers and more great events. August is back-to-school time, and La Palmera has the hottest deals to make every student a fashion superstar. Shoppers will find the latest clothes and shoes, school uniforms, athletic wear, backpacks and book bags, plus haircuts, eyeglasses and even great stuff for dorms. Many residents and visitors alike wait for the annual Texas Sales Tax Holiday to stock up on clothing and other back-to-school items. This year’s weekend is Friday, Aug. 5, through Sunday, Aug. 7. Tax-free items once again include most basic school supplies, as well as backpacks, clothing, shoes and many accessories priced under $100 used by elementary and secondary students. Shoppers will also find special deals at many stores whose merchandise does not qualify for tax-free status. Select retailers at La Palmera and The Shops at La Palmera will have extended hours for the three-day event. A list of these retailers, along with other deals, can be found on La Palmera’s website. Officers from the Corpus Christi Police Department will be onsite Friday through Sunday at La Palmera to assist with traffic control, making it easier for customers to navigate their way in and out of parking areas. Valet parking is also available at the mall’s main entrance near P.F. Chang’s, and for added convenience, shoppers can call in or text their valet claim number to 361-238-0777 and have their car waiting for them. September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and La Palmera is once again teaming up with the Ready or Not Foundation and other local or-

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ganizations to raise awareness – and funds – for all forms of pediatric cancer through Ready. Set. Gold. Gold is the color associated with pediatric cancer, which affects more than 15,000 children under the age of 19 annually with roughly 2,000 losing their fight to some form of pediatric cancer every year. La Palmera shoppers will see touches of gold through the mall, as well as events throughout Septem-

pediatric cancer,” said Fred Walters, vice president and general manager of La Palmera and The Shops at La Palmera. “Ready. Set. Gold. was such a success last year, and we hope to make it bigger and better each year, as we share the message more than 650,000 monthly visitors.” La Palmera’s partner in Ready. Set. Gold. is the Corpus Christi-based Ready or Not Foundation, founded

ber, including a special tree standing more than 10 feet tall in Center Court that individuals can fill with “golden” leaves through a minimum $1 donation per leaf, with all donations benefiting pediatric cancer research. Other activities include a special Tide Turners Kids Club event for kids 5 and under on Tuesday, Sept. 6, from 10 a.m. to noon in Center Court near the tree, which will feature children’s activities spotlighting awareness and support for children who have been affected by pediatric cancer. Each weekend in September, there will also be special children’s activities. “Our goal is to raise awareness for

by Barbara Canales following the 2006 diagnosis of her daughter, Jackie’s, brain tumor at age 6. Jackie remains in remission, but the life-changing ordeal inspired Canales to start the Ready or Not Foundation, which has delivered an unprecedented 100 percent of donations and matching grants – more than $2 million to date – to pediatric brain cancer research.

For more information on La Palmera and The Shops at La Palmera, go to www.lapalmera. com or call 361-991-3755.




Fresh Food and Made-From-Scratch Every Meal, Everyday!

224 N. Mesquite Street Downtown Corpus Christi (844) CC-GEARS

Serving Breakfast, Lunch and Weekend Brunch

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QUIRKY QUARTZES WHAT IS the most abundant mineral on earth that is found both on every beach in the world and also in some of the finest jewelry ever crafted? Quartz! Each grain of sand is a microscopic jewel. Obviously, there is nothing special about sand, but the big brothers in this family of minerals are very special and come in many different varieties many distinguished simply by color. Quartz has one of the widest ranges of variety in the world. Some of the more common types are: • Rock crystal • Citrine • Amethyst These three make up the vast majority of quartzes used in fine jewelry, although many more varieties can be found set in precious metal ready to be worn. Rock crystal is the colorless variety of quartz. Many times, these stones are very large and clean, perfect for large impressive pieces of jewelry. Because rock crystal occurs in very large crystals and there is a huge supply, it lends itself very well to awesome and outrageous designs. There have been crystals found that are bigger than the people mining them! If you are looking for chunky natural gems that look similar to huge diamonds, this is the stone for you. Not only can you get big

stones, but you can get very unusual cuts and shapes that you wouldn’t normally find in other types of gems. Like all quartz varieties, rock crystal has good hardness and is very durable, making it perfect for everyday wear and tear. Citrine is the exact same stone as rock crystal, but it is the reddish-orange to yellow version of quartz. Citrine is not found nearly as often as the other varieties, with natural stones only coming from Bolivia in South America. Since there is very little supply of natural-color citrine and high demand, the vast majority of what is on the market is actually heat-treated pale amethyst. By using a special heat treatment, pale and otherwise undesirable amethyst can have its color changed to the more saleable orange hues of citrine. Just like most of the single crystal quartz varieties, citrine is usually very clean and free of inclusions, so all you have to worry about is picking out the color and shape that you like best. Now for everyone’s favorite quartz, amethyst! The deep-purple hues of this captivating stone just scream “royalty.” For centuries, the color has been associated with wealth, kings and queens. With its obvious color, it’s no surprise it has always been a favorite stone used to adorn those of high ranks. Amethyst continues to be highly sought-after to this


day, and luckily enough, it has plenty of production to meet demand and keep prices low. Due to large supplies of the beautiful purple stones, unusual cuts and shapes are easy to locate and can even be custom-cut in some instances. Almost all stones seen in stores today are a light to medium-dark purple and can range in sizes from fractions of a carat to many hundreds of carats. The most prized and expensive amethysts have a noticeable red hue to them mixed in with the purple; however, these stones are difficult to find and are rarely seen for sale in stores. Amethyst truly is one of the best stones you can purchase. It is usually very consistent in clarity, a wide range of sizes and shapes are readily available and, best of all, they are normally very inexpensive. This wasn’t mentioned before, but I wanted there be a little surprise twist to the story here. There are times when citrine and amethyst meet in one stone! What you get with this combination is ametrine. Part orangy-yellow and part purple, ametrine is one of the more unusual quartzes you will find. Like citrine, it is only found in Bolivia; however, it is always natural because any treatment will erase one of the colors. Ametrine is a fun stone to work with and design around because it is so unusual. It also makes for a very fascinating conversation piece with most people not believing it to be possible to have a bi-colored stone. Though it is only found in one place, there is still a great deal of production compared to the relatively low demand. Most people don’t know it exists, and for that reason, demand has stayed low compared to other quartzes. These are just a few of the stones that make up the large category of quartz. Many others, too many to name, are common in jewelry, including different types of agate, chalcedony, onyx and several others. Because of the wide range of stones that make up this family, the only way to tell them apart is to see the different quirks of each type of quartz.

For more information about quartzes or any other types of stones, please contact Colton Bartel, G.G., AJP, at Susann’s Diamond Jewelers, located at 4254 S. Alameda in Corpus Christi, Texas. You may also call 361-991-7565 or visit


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A quick look at the quintessential stones

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SAFETY FIRST How your business can avoid workplace injuries


workplace injury can be a nightmare for a business to deal with. You have an injured coworker, lost productivity and a probable workman’s compensation claim. As part of its mission, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) encourages and supports best practices by educating consumers, employees and businesses. Safety should be the most important part of the workplace, as it protects the well-being of employees and it can increase productivity and lower production days lost due to work-related injuries. In 2014, nearly 13,000 American workers were injured a day as a result of workplace accidents, according to the National Safety Council. More than three million injuries or illnesses in the workplace occurred, and nearly half of these injuries required time off work. Industries most affected by injuries in 2014 included construction, transportation and warehousing and agriculture. In fact, motor vehicle crashes are still the leading cause of


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work-related deaths. Overall, statewide workplace injuries were estimated to have cost more than $1 billion in lost productivity in 2014, according to the Texas Workforce Commission. To help prevent accidents in the workplace, BBB serving Central, Coastal and Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin offers the following tips for businesses and workers: Install a workplace safety program. A successful safety program depends on spotting hazards early, evaluating their risk and removing or controlling them before harm is done. It is just as important for a █



business office or a retail store to have a safety program in place as it is for a construction site or warehouse. Ensure the workplace is “accident free.” Slips, trips and falls are one of the leading causes of workplace accidents. Most falls in the workplace are caused by wet floors or icy walkways, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Make sure wet floors are clearly marked, and take steps to prevent walkways from icing over. If the workplace is a retail store, for example, be careful when lifting or walking around with heavy objects. Be aware of your surroundings to avoid running into table displays and knocking over shelves or racks that could cause serious injury. █

Set up measures to avoid workplace violence. While no one expects violence in the workplace, it does happen. On-the-job shootings and attacks come from coworkers and outsiders, like robbers. As business owners or managers, it’s important to carefully review security procedures for your business, storefront, employees and customers. Decide if you need security guards. And set up avenues to resolve workplace disputes before they escalate. █

Make sure equipment and infrastructure is in good condition. The main workplace safety and health law in the United States is the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, which requires all private-sector employees to provide a safe workplace, free of hazards, to their employees. According to the National Safety Council, 25 percent of injuries occur when people get struck, caught or crushed in collapsing structure, equipment or other heavy objects. BBB recommends that businesses store heavy objects close to the floor and wear the proper personal protective equipment. Always be aware of moving equipment in your work area. █

For more important business advice, visit our website at central-texas under the “For Businesses” section, or our independent blog at Kelly Trevino is the regional director for the Corpus Christi/Victoria area of Better Business Bureau serving Central, Coastal and Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin. She is available for media interviews and speaking engagements. You can reach her by phone at 361-945-7352 or via email at

Its ART Time at

Tracey’s Studio of Arts and Crafts Where all you need is your imagination! After School Activities Drawing Painting Ceramics Mosaics Clay Crafts Wreaths • Water color and Acrylic Classes • Mixed Media Classes • Weekly Homeschool ART Classes • ART Birthday Parties • Art Parties for all Occasions! • Kid’s Night Out! Second Friday of every month • Walk-ins are always welcome

361-371-5023 5922 Yorktown Blvd. Ste. 110

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PROVEN LEADERSHIP New York Life’s Annie Castro celebrates three decades of empowering her clients in the insurance financial services industry.

By: Stephanie Kusy Photos by: Mark Joseph/Darklab Photography


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Annie Castro leans back in her office chair and allows the moment to set it: five years in her own New York Life office off of South Staples near King High School, 30 years registered in the insurance financial services industry. She has come a long way since her days working at H-E-B in the accounting department. As she celebrates these milestones, she feels her faith has played a huge part in her successes. “Always take care of the client first, and the Lord will always take care of me,” Castro said. Her journey traces back to humble beginnings. She grew up with eight siblings in Corpus Christi. After graduating from Carroll High School, like her siblings, she began working fulltime. No one in her family had ever gone to college. Determined to get a higher education, she enrolled in Del Mar. Back then, she said all earnings went to straight to support the family, but she managed to save enough on the side to pay for tuition and eventually graduate from Texas A&M Corpus Christi. “I vowed I would not be in the same scenario as my parents,” Castro said. “The only way to break the cycle is through education. If anyone wants to improve upon themselves, the only way to do that is through education.”


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Her love for helping others and strong analytical skills would eventually help her become one of the top insurance agents in the country. She works with a variety of clients from individuals to small businesses to help them achieve their long-term financial objectives. “Maybe your goal is to fund your children’s college education, protect your family during your working years or guarantee your own retirement security,” Castro said. “These things won’t happen by accident. That is why it is important to determine what you’d like to achieve financially and then map out a strategy that will help you meet those goals.” The good news is that it is never too late to start. She said one myth is that people think they have enough insurance when they really don’t. Life insurance is not meant to make families rich, but rather keep them at the same standard of living in an unfortunate event where a loved one dies. “If you gave someone a million

dollars today, it’s a lot of money,” Castro said. “But if you give someone a million dollars and it’s your last paycheck, it’s not a lot.” She typically sits down with clients to do a needs analysis to determine how much they should save. “A rule of thumb for figuring out adequate life insurance is either calculated by a formula for human capital replacement, which is the annual income divided by .05, or needs analysis.” Castro has helped hundreds of clients across the Coastal Bend, earning her a permanent seat at the “Million Dollar Round Table” – the highest achievement an insurance agent can receive. Less than 3 percent of agents qualify. The road to success was never easy for her, though. Not many women were insurance agents back then, and even fewer earned a stable living off it. “I questioned whether or not I was in the right business,” she said, referring to her first few years as an agent. “I couldn’t take

Castro believes in the “work hard, play hard” mentality.

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someone on a hunting trip to make a deal. It was all on a professional basis. I had to earn my keep in many ways. Everything has been out of hard work, good work and no shortcuts. I don’t believe in any free lunches in life.” Castro shows no signs of slowing down with her business, and she believes in the “work hard, play hard” mentality. Her family owns a ranch in San Diego, where she enjoys spending her free time singing karaoke with friends, off-roading on ATVs and firing up the grill. She believes her barbecue tastes better at the ranch where she has perfected her mouth-watering baby back ribs. Married now for 35 years with children and grandchildren, Castro feels honored to have become the backbone of her family. She has served on many professional boards, as well as organizations that encourage women professionally and help them meet likeminded individuals through groups such as the Hispanic Women’s Network. “They empower women and help each other out,” she said. “We recognize that there’s always room at the top, and the only way you get there is to bring someone with you.” Lastly, she never forgets her faith and finds a seat


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“Everything has been out of hard work, good work and no shortcuts. I don’t believe in any free lunches in life.”

at St. Phillip’s Catholic Church on Sundays. “Very early on in my career, I realized I can’t do anything without God,” Castro said. “I know that when I even think I can do things on my own, I get humbled.” When it comes to preparing for the future, it’s important to work with

someone who has the foresight and proven experience to help you navigate life’s changes successfully. As a New York Life insurance agent, Castro will be right there by your side to find the right solutions to make the most of today, tomorrow and the years to come.

Annie Castro, CLU, LUTCF, is a registered representative of New York Life. She is located at 4466 S. Staples. For more information, call her at 361-986-1321 or visit her online at

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If the walls at Brewster Street Ice House could talk, they sure would have a bunch of stories to tell. Instead, Mark Schaberg, who is one of Brewster’s operating partners, is willing to dish out details on some of his best memories as the establishment celebrates its 10th anniversary. With more than a million visitors and nearly 2,000 concerts in the last decade, the dance hall and family restaurant has evolved into a staple of the live music scene in Corpus Christi and the centerpiece for the Sports, Entertainment and Art (SEA) District. Schaberg moved to Corpus Christi in 2002 after managing several clubs in Austin. Concrete Street Amphitheater hired him to bring in new acts to the live music venue. As landmarks like Whataburger Field and the American Bank Center began to rise, Schaberg and operating partners discussed creating a “hangout place” between events. They wanted to create an establishment where folks could bring their families on game day, stay for a concert or take part in other art events. The partners agreed to create a family-friendly atmosphere for everyone to enjoy. Construction began on the former Yellow Freight Distribution building in 2005 with hopes to open with the 2006 Hooks baseball season when former Astros pitcher Roger Clemens would make an appearance. “We got to be open for this,” Schaberg remembers. “So we pushed and did two months of work in two weeks. We were pushing sawdust out the back and bringing customers in the front.” Only a few weeks after opening, former Gov. Rick Perry visited the area for a press conference. Schaberg quickly thought of a creative way to get the governor’s attention. “We went to Fast Signs and created a banner that said, ‘Governor Perry, let us buy you a cold one,’” he said, chuckling. They hung the massive banner outside, and sure enough, the governor came by for a visit. Shortly after, Schaberg recalls Justin Timberlake stopping in for lunch while


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filming a movie. “All the female workers were excited,” he said. “Then Justin comes walking up the steps, and he has Jessica Biel with him. He came in and sat down and was real gracious.” While the restaurant attracted celebrities to come in to eat four-star food in casual environment, the outdoor music venue soon began hosting big-name bands. Texas country artists like Randy Rogers Band, Kevin Fowler and Eli Young Band have entertained concert-goers for years. “Here you get a mix of people that are truly coming for the artist, and then others who are just coming to hang and be around the music and the scene,” said Schaberg, who is also the general manager at Concrete Street Amphitheater. Roger Creager, a Texas country artist with local roots, holds the record for the largest show. Brewster’s opened up the parking lot to hold 3,000 people for not Roger’s, but his dad, Bill’s, 80th birthday party. “Bill is essentially retired, and he’s probably the coolest dad you could ever have,” said Schaberg. “He rides around on the bus with Roger. He jumps onstage every night to sing ‘Rancho Grande,’ one of Roger’s songs. Pretty much everyone in the Texas country industry knows him.” Bill continues to celebrate his birthday every year at the venue. Schaberg believes Brewster Street also opens up doors for local musicians by giving them a stage to attract larger audiences. “One thing I think Brewsters has done for the music scene is develop the artist from that little local small club environment to where they can stair step into the bigger shows.” Artists like J.R. Castillo and Steven James & The Jaded have made a name for themselves in Corpus Christi and throughout Texas, and they regularly perform at the venue. For looking like a Texas honky tonk, Brewster Street brings in bands from a number of genres. In 2014, Meghan Trainor performed her Grammy award-winning song, “All About That Bass,” to a soldout crowd, and in 2015, Ciara surprised Corpus Christi with a special club show. Still, if someone wants to see a Top 50 artist perform live, they usually travel out of town. Schaberg said it is sometimes difficult to bring in big-name acts if they’re doing shorter tours because they go to the larger cities like Houston, Dallas and Austin first. He said supporting all music in Corpus Christi would boost ticket sales and show booking agents that this is a hot spot for music.


As the music scene in Corpus Christi grows, the restaurant and entertainment venue is committed to holding onto strong community ties. “We try to engage with the local community as much as we possibly can,” Schaberg said. “That’s been a really big part of our business model. Whether it’s a press conference or a school or charity event, we want to stay as engaged as possible.” The award-winning Brewster Street Ice House has become one of the bestknown establishments in Corpus Christi. Schaberg believes the next 10 years will only bring more music and great food to the folks who live here.

Brewster Street Ice House is located 1724 N Tancahua St. For more information, look for them on Facebook or at

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David and Stephanie Hamilton help their customers think differently about food and nutrition by taking a new approach to healthy dining options at Muscle Maker Grill. By: Jessica Dusek Photos by: Mark Joseph/Darklab Photography


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“My eyes were open. We thoroughly believed that we needed to do it,” says franchise owner David Hamilton in reference to why he and his wife and co-owner, Stephanie Hamilton, chose to open the new and increasingly popular Muscle Maker Grill restaurant. Opening in November 2015, Muscle Maker Grill graced the Corpus Christi market with a new restaurant approach: healthier food options with flavorful appeal. Stephanie and David believe that people shouldn’t have to compromise flavor in order to eat healthily. By adding tenderizing marinades to the mix, Muscle Maker Grill accomplishes this. “We knew people wanted it; we just had to bring it,” explains David of the Corpus Christi market. Landing the Rookie of the Year title, David and Stephanie have helped make a mark on nutritional cuisine selections for South Texans. With a name like “Muscle Maker Grill,” the eatery is surprisingly not solely for the most muscular patrons. “The name can be intimidating,” David admits. However, he explains that most of his patrons are people who are curious and looking to make a change in their body or their health. The restaurant focuses on offering a wide variety of options ranging from low-carb and high-protein options to high-carb and high-protein op-


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tions, depending on the needs of the consumer. They also focus on educating and bringing awareness to all patrons, which continues to be a driving passion and inspiration for the Hamiltons to continue providing healthier dining options to South Texas. The Hamiltons embarked on their franchise endeavor after starting a meal-prep business out of their home. In fact, their story somewhat parallels that of the founder of Muscle Maker Grill, who also began a food prep-business out of his smoothie shop. David and Stephanie scratched the surface when they started a 21-day fit diet program. “We’ve always been in sports and in the gym, but never focused on diet or nutrition,” David says. “Being healthy is 20 percent fitness and 80 percent diet.” Stephanie adds her experience, “The results we get are ridiculous (in a good way).”

Stephanie and David believe that people shouldn’t have to compromise flavor in order to eat healthily.

Their personal lifestyle changes increased the couple’s passion to eat healthy food and to feel good as a bi-product of meal prepping for themselves. “There are so many people who want to change [their health]; they just don’t know how,” Stephanie says. Soon, friends and family members were asking Stephanie and David to prep meals for them, as well. “The majority of our customers were older clients just starting their fitness journey or were diabetic,” explains David of their early food prep days. “It hit close to home,” Stephanie adds. The fact that both have lost family members to diabetes fueled the couple’s passion to share a food experience that would help customers think differently about food and nutrition. “We really believe in paying it forward,” Stephanie says, “[and] God is behind every decision we make; the path is to help other people.” Their passion to live a new lifestyle and promote healthy food choices guided them to approach Muscle Maker Grill to open a franchise in Corpus Christi.

Higher nutritional value, healthier food “The response was outstanding,” describes David of the community’s response to their opening. With Corpus Christi previously ranking sixth in obesity in the United States, Corpus Christi is a community that values flavorful foods. Health foods or foods cooked with less hydrogenated or highly caloric oils can seem less appealing. However, retraining one’s taste buds is not as difficult as it may seem. It involves looking at food in a different way. Muscle Maker Grill meals are designed to create fuel in the body while leveling blood sugars. This alone decreases the body’s desire for sugar. “This is about more than just looking good,” Stephanie says. “One of our customers has told us that he no longer suffers from heartburn or acid reflux [since eating with Muscle Maker Grill].” Even their manager has jumped on board: According to David, he has lost 45 pounds. “The Godfather is one of the most popular menu items,” David says. “It is probably our

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top favorite. It’s actually chicken breast that is marinated for three days then sautéed in a gluten and fat-free balsamic vinaigrette sauce. It is then served on to of a bed of steamed broccoli and topped with portabella mushrooms, roasted red peppers and reduced-fat-mozzarella cheese.” The restaurant also offers sandwiches, salad options, pasta, wraps, stir fry, burgers, smoothies and many other entrees. Many customers are even greeted by David and Stephanie’s children from time to time. Also offering a kids’ menu, the establishment appeals to working parents on the go. As their journey to health continued, the Hamiltons chose to enter the world of fitness completions as a couple. After weeks of health-conscious decisions, Stephanie was encouraged to make the bold last-minute move to enter her very first competition. Her husband was there to cheer her on. He says, “…and I cried,” as he remembers fondly of his wife’s triumph at the Battle on the Bay. “Finding myself again and finding that person – being able to set a goal and reach it” is what Stephanie gained from competing. “Even though I didn’t win [Battle on the Bay], I still won.” The sound in their voice paints it plainly. The couple chose to listen to an internal pull regardless of the risk by investing in themselves. Today, they share their accomplishments with their customers and the community. In and around the community Distributing food at Battle on the Bay, they sold 600 meals. They were proud to donate the unsold meals to a local food charity. The Hamiltons look forward to expanding their business and are presently looking into ways to bring more meals out into the community; perhaps a food truck will be a future addition. “That’s how you eat an elephant: You take one bite at a time,” says David of their future plans. His wife can’t hold back her laughter as she pokes fun at her husband’s off-thecuff humor. For more information about Muscle Maker Grill, visit the location in Corpus Christi at 7426 S. Staples, Ste. 2, or call 361-992-9696.


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A classic Einstein quote puts it best: “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Through CCATCU’s customized programs, they are helping their members rethink their financial strategy, helping them reclaim their financial freedom. They are making life goals, such as of owning a new vehicle, purchasing a new home or getting out of the vicious cycle of predatory lending, attainable goals for members. With the proper guidance, CCATCU stands on their four pillars, representing their promise and dedication to their members: 1. Raise your credit score. 2. Lower monthly payments. 3. Eliminate high-interest credit card balances. 4. Protect from predatory lending. Specializing in credit score management, CCATCU has struck a chord across South Texas markets. Serving 37,000 members, the credit union celebrated 80 years

in business in December. CCATCU transitioned to a community credit union 2002, allowing the not-for-profit to serve in a way they hadn’t previously: They help members sift through granular levels of their finances to provide viable solutions. “With access to employer groups,” Prince says, “we are able to offer the programs in six counties.” CCATCU has gained popularity due to their credit score management programs. Corpus Christi, as one example, remains to be a targeted market of payday loans and predatory lending. Shifting and working with programs, such as CCATCU, goes to the root of the issue, providing education and new ways to correct financial pathways. Specifically, the organization focuses on long-term success. “It’s about partnering with the member, for the member,” Prince explains. New members seek the credit union as a means to rebuild their credit, and for many, success stories remain to be living testimonials. “Giving them a game plan for their future helps,” adds Solomon Lopez, business development officer.  “Members have a right to have their financial partners partner

with them and be transparent.” Lopez’s passion guides the “grassroots” project created by the organization’s business development team. His regional team of 15 hosts and educates the community at local events, conducting workshops and Lunch-andLearn programs. “What makes us different? We don’t have a collections department; we have a members solutions department” Lopez describes. “We looked at our culture and decided ways we could help the individual, to educate them.”  The consumer has access to a credit score assessment. Through the credit union, they are provided the resources and coaching to rebuild their financial lens. For Prince and Lopez, their member-centric focus allows them to help individuals who need to restructure their financial decisions to positively develop and raise their credit score. One goal of the credit score management program is to guide the younger generation by reaching out to millennials. “We have been able to

help this demographic by educating the millennial on what score is necessary to purchase a home,” Lopez explains. “We have helped a millennial to raise their score 60 points in 90 days. This, in turn, puts them in a better position to buy that home – an important goal.” Prince recalls a case where she had a member who had multiple payday loans. The member was unable to get out of the payment cycle. By changing some of the variables, CCATCU was able help turn this member’s financial strain around. “We were able to save her $36,000 in three years, plus she will be debt-free,” says Prince, who advocates and reinforces practices that most of the public may not be aware of in repairing their credit. She outlines the following to consider: Things not to do:  Do not keep your credit card balances at their limit.  Do not dispute everything – you lose points.  Do not close out old credit limits – you lose history by doing that. Connecting with local businesses is part of the credit union’s strategy to get the word out about their services and lending support. With the guidance of their experts, they equally require the dedication of the member. Prince and Lopez describe their approach as, “relational versus transactional.” CCATCU continues to make a most notable impact by educating consumers in the community – changing lives!

For more information on Coastal Community and Teachers Credit Union, visit

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䄀 䐀䔀匀吀䤀一䄀吀䤀伀一 圀䔀䐀䐀䤀一䜀

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䌀愀氀氀 甀猀 琀漀搀愀礀 琀漀 猀挀栀攀搀甀氀攀 愀渀 愀瀀瀀漀椀渀琀洀攀渀琀  琀漀 最攀琀 猀琀愀爀琀攀搀 瀀氀愀渀渀椀渀最 礀漀甀爀 猀瀀攀挀椀愀氀 搀愀礀⸀

I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M 45 ㌀㘀㄀⸀㜀㐀㤀⸀㌀㜀㄀㘀     簀     倀伀刀吀ⴀ刀伀夀䄀䰀⸀䌀伀䴀     簀     㘀㌀㄀㜀 匀吀䄀吀䔀 䠀䤀䜀䠀圀䄀夀 ㌀㘀㄀ ∠ 倀伀刀吀 䄀刀䄀一匀䄀匀Ⰰ 吀䔀堀䄀匀 㜀㠀㌀㜀㌀


The Prizm Series


s much as they love stars at Lightlink Lighting, right now the company is seeing triangles. Inspired, in part, by the equilateral triangle’s reputation as the strongest geometric shape, company owner and founder Mike Brannon pays beautiful homage to the shape in two very different ways with the new Prizm and Triangulation Series lights. Simultaneously ambient and highly geometrical, these series are inspired by astronomical phenomenon, Atomic Age design and the company’s signature Zen/industrial combination. They’re also


With its 20th anniversary right around the corner, Lightlink Lighting wows with the new, award-winning Prizm and Triangulation Series lights. By: ERIN O’BRIEN


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both new experiments for the company in fiber optics, something Brannon is excited to explore further in future designs. As the company’s newest series, the Prizm takes one of Brannon’s favorite design materials, dichroic film, and places it into an all-new context – specifically, inside clear acrylic drop tubes surrounding RGB color-changing fiber optics. “The word, ‘dichroic,’ is Greek for ‘two color,’ but when you’re actually looking at dichroic film in a light, it seems like multiple colors because it looks different at every angle,” Brannon said. “I feel like we’ve been able to highlight that quality in really interesting ways with the acrylic.” In a more direct marriage of the modern with the atomic, the Triangulation features multiple color-changing fiber optic strands reaching down through a thick, metal, triangular frame. Definitely


The Triangulation Series

The Triangulation Series dramatic, yet not over-the-top, the series truly takes the Zen/industrial feel to a new level. Notably, both series serve as stellar examples of upcycling, as the metal for the Triangulation and the acrylic tubes for the Prizm were originally leftover pieces from other custom projects. In fact, even the guitar strings used to hang the lights were reclaimed from a music store. “All of this was seen as scrap, but you would never know it to look at the lights now,” Brannon said. “It’s interesting that these materials come from such disparate sources, but you can’t visually trace the lineage. Everything is repurposed, but you can’t tell.” What is obvious, however, is that the lights are going over well. The Prizm and the Triangulation, along with the Vanishing Point and several other previous series, are among the designs that have won a total of 18 ADEX Awards


for Design Excellence in 2016, along with Best of 2015 Products honors from Design Journal and EnLIGHTenment. Lightlink will also have a presence in the upcoming TEDx San Antonio at the newly transformed $100 million Witte Museum complex, which will be the company’s fourth TEDx event. All in all, it’s an exciting time for Lightlink – which is also about to celebrate its 20th anniversary. “The whole business was born back in 1997 out of a home renovation I did with my dad,” Brannon said. “It came out of necessity: I needed lighting and furniture, so I just decided to design and build my own out of leftovers and scraps. I like that the reason the business came into being is also the reason it has continued – both the founding and guiding principles are the same. It’s nice when you find something you believe in, and it doesn’t change.”

The Vanishing Point Series

The Prizm Series

For more information on Lightlink Lighting, visit or follow the company on Twitter (@lightlinklights).

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WHEN SELECTING a new property, buyers often inquire about when they can perform their inspections on their new potential investment. Currently, it is the regional standard in our area to perform all inspections during the termination option period of the contract, which is a timeframe that is written into and part of the contract. This termination option period allows the buyer (not the seller) to back out of the contract for a minimal fee for any reason during the specified period, and this right is commonly employed when unexpected “surprises” are revealed during inspections and their resolve is unable to be negotiated between parties. Most contracts in our area negotiate this period to be the first seven to 14 days of the contract, unless negotiated otherwise. There are a wide variety of inspection services available in our area. These inspections can be purchased at any time by homeowners, but inspections are usually performed on a property when a new buyer is considering its purchase. In essence, every part of a property can be inspected, but the scope is typically limited to the owner’s or the buyer’s major areas of concerns in an effort to eliminate or define any issues with the property. Keep in mind: There is no general inspection required by a lender or mortgage company. The lender may require a buyer to order an appraisal, but that is different from an inspection.

However, lenders may require a termite inspection and associated wood report for some loans – especially FHA and VA loan programs. Most buyers begin with a general home inspection. These inspections are performed by home inspectors that are licensed by the state of Texas, and their reports should provide an overview of the major systems of the home, including the structural, roof, plumbing, electrical, etc., systems. Depending on the inspector hired, these evaluations may be more general in nature, or they can be extremely detailed. However, unless home inspectors are licensed in other vocations, they are somewhat limited on what systems they can inspect more thoroughly. For example, if home inspectors are not also licensed as pest control professionals, they cannot provide a wood report for the presence or absence of termites or wood-destroying insects. Because of these limitations, many buyers opt to delve deeper into some systems of a property. Often, they choose which are most important due to the condition and age of the home, as well as their planned use of the property and budget available for inspections. These more specific inspections typically include a static test of the plumbing lines under the foundation of the home (performed by a licensed plumber), a thorough inspection of the heat and air conditioning systems (by a licensed HVAC professional), a pest inspection to look for wood-destroying insects or rodents or even an environmental-type


inspection on the home to seek out mold or the presence of excessive moisture. Buyers often opt for a foundation-repair professional and/or a structural engineer to visit and evaluate the property to ensure the foundation health and overall structural competency of a home or building. For more rural properties, it is also common to have septic systems or water wells inspected, and to have the water quality evaluated for the presence of harmful bacteria. Additional inspections for specialized accessories such as pools, hot tubs, sprinkler systems, etc., can also be ordered, given different situations. It is ultimately up to the buyer to determine which inspections are necessary to feel most confident and comfortable when purchasing a new home or building. Although most sellers (there are some legal exceptions, including, but not limited to, foreclosures and estates) are legally required to disclose the known defects of a property, sellers may be unaware of issues that can potentially cause great financial loss after the sale. To prevent later heartbreak and financial strain, all buyers should beware and prepare to have a property thoroughly inspected prior to the end of their termination option period. Although no home or building is forever flawless, many issues can be “headed off at the pass” through renegotiating repairs with a seller, planning for future repairs ahead of time or terminating a contract during the termination option period.

For more information regarding real estate in the Coastal Bend, please contact Coral Dworaczyk, M.S., on her cell at 979-229-2836 or by email at Dworaczyk is a professional realtor with Palm Bay Rentals and Sales in Corpus Christi, Texas.


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What buyers need to know about inspections and the termination option period







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Myths and Truths About Smart Phones Truth: Replacing a cell phone battery doesn’t mean the device is finished. The average life of a cell phone battery regardless of make and model is 12-15 months. We understand this, so we offer a 1 year warranty with our cell phone batteries.

Myth: Smart Phones shouldn’t be left plugged into a charger overnight.

Due to the advancements in technology smart phones can’t be over charged. Most of the newer smartphones have a sensor that detects when the battery is fully charged, and will stop the charging process.

Truth: Cell phones carry a great amount of germs and bacteria.

The surface of a cell phone is 10 times dirtier than a public restroom toilet seat. It’s very important that you sanitize your cell phone weekly if not daily. We carry these devices in our pockets, purses, and they are constantly touching our face and hands.

Myth: It’s safe to use any charger when charging your device.

This is a myth, you need to be careful with third party chargers. Most of them don’t have the same specs as the original set up. It’s ok to purchase

Truth: Having your phone in the restroom during a shower can ruin your cell phone.

This is true, the steam from the shower can get into the phone causing corrosion, and water damage. That corrosion will continue to form, and can ruin the inside of your cell phone.

Myth: Using the phone while charging will ruin your battery. This is a myth, using the phone while charging won’t ruin your battery, but it will cause the charging process to take a little longer. We don’t suggest you use it while charging, but it won’t cause any harm to you or the battery.


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 Commercial and residential roofing  Master Contractors of Duro-Last “The World’s Best Roof”  Fully insured - General Liability & Workers Comp

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Chia sangria energy bars: delicious and heart-healthy By: MANDY ASHCRAFT Photos by: DUSTIN ASHCRAFT



with a texture similar to that of a sticky granola bar.

1 1/2 cup sliced almonds 10 pitted Medjool dates 1/2 cup dried cherries 1/2 cup dried cranberries 1/2 cup dried apples 1 tablespoon ground chia seeds (or whole seeds for crunch) Zest of 1 large orange 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice 1-2 tablespoons water (optional)

2/ Slowly add water by the teaspoon if necessary for blending. Don’t exceed 2 tablespoons, or they will not hold their form when cut into bars. 3/ Place wax paper into the bottom of a standard loaf pan. Press mixture into the bottom of the loaf pan. 4/ Refrigerate overnight. 5/ Overturn loaf pan onto wax paper, and cut into bars or into bite-sized squares for snacking.

Instructions: 6/ Keep refrigerated. 1/ Add all ingredients except water to a food processor or large blender, and blend until you have a thick, but chunky texture. Don’t puree it completely; you want to end up

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For more information, visit


IT’S DATE NIGHT! Medjool date night, to be specific. If you’re not familiar with the sweet fruit of the date palm tree, the chewy little gems are packed with essential minerals (highest in potassium, manganese, magnesium and copper), and are an excellent source of Vitamin B-6 and soluble fiber. Blending them up with other delicious, nutrient-dense ingredients is a great way to work them into your diet. This recipe for a bright, fruity flavored blend of ingredients with the added health benefit of heart-healthy chia seeds and almonds is a total win/win.

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A SLICE OF HISTORY Pizza through the ages By: SYLVIA SLEZAK


he common belief is that Italians invented pizza, but the history of baked bread with toppings goes back to ancient times in the Middle East. Italy’s version of the dish, especially from Naples, is the one we are most familiar with. Pizza has become a common fixture in our culture. Pizza shops are found in our community, delivery persons bring pies straight to our door and movies and commercials reinforce this pizza craze time after time. But where did pizza begin? Tasty beginnings The word, “pizza,” is Italian for “pie,” but how that word wound up in Italian baffles etymologists and its origin is uncertain. It may have come from the Latin pix meaning “pitch” or Greek “pitta,” but others say that it originated in a Langobardic word, “bizzo,” meaning “bite.” Legend has it that pizza developed in Naples when bakers needed to use up their excess dough for the day, or when they needed something in the oven to keep it warm. Since Nea-


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Evolution of the American pizza pie An ocean away, immigrants to the United States from Naples were replicating their crusty pizza versions in New York and other American cities. The first documented U.S. pizzeria was started by Gennaro Lombardi. When Lombardi arrived in America at the age of 14, he was already a baker by trade, and he soon found work in a Brooklyn bakery and at a grocery store on Spring Street in Manhattan. Several years later, Lombardi bought the grocery store from the aging owner. He truly wanted to generate a customer base by selling pizza, and in 1905, he created a real American pizza business by acquiring the first pizza-selling license for his new shop located at 53 ½ Spring Street. Almost 30 years later, Lombardi closed down his pizzeria and his grandsons soon reopened a pizza shop at 32 Spring St. that still exists today. Although Lombardi was influenced by the pies of Naples, he was forced to adapt pizza to Americans. The wood-fired ovens and mozzarella “di bufala” were substituted with coal-powered ovens and “fior di latte,” and so began the evolution of the American pie. As Italian-Americans, and their food, migrated from city to suburb, east to west, especially after World War II, pizza’s popularity in the United States boomed. No longer seen as an “ethnic” treat, it was increasingly identified as a fast, fun food. Regional, decidedly


politans required inexpensive food that could be consumed quickly, pizza (flatbreads with various toppings, eaten for any meal and sold by street vendors or informal restaurants) met this need. These early pizzas featured the tasty garnishes enjoyed today, such as tomatoes, cheese, oil, anchovies and garlic. Supposedly, in 1889, a baker in Naples named Raffaele Esposito made a patriotic pie topped with mozzarella, basil and tomatoes in honor of King Umberto and Queen Margherita’s visit. It is rumored the queen enjoyed the pie, and thus, it became known as a Margherita.

PIZZA HAS COME DOWN A LONG ROAD, AND IT IS STILL A COMMON LOVE FOR TEXANS AND PEOPLE ALL AROUND THE WORLD. non-Neapolitan variations emerged, eventually including California-gourmet pizzas topped with anything from barbecued chicken to smoked salmon. Pizza has come down a long road, and it is still a common love for Texans and people all around the world. Since becoming popular in New York, all different styles of pizza have been created and sold. There are pizza parlors that cater to pizza from Milan, Naples, Pompeii and Palermo, but pizza has also taken its own New York style. Many other cultures have adopted pizza to

their own liking, whether it be pizza from different cities in Italy, New York pizza, Mexican pizza or Greek pizza. We can find many different examples throughout Texas and Corpus Christi that have a unique twist of their own. Pizza style and flavor Here is a small sampling of where unique “pizza” style and flavor can be found within Corpus Christi.  At Padre Pizzeria, you can taste the gourmet difference with a “create your own pizza” or

choice of Barbecue, Bacon Cheeseburger, Greek, Hot Wings, Thai Surprise, Amore Roma, Philly Chzsteak, the Sicilian, the Kitchen Sink, Veggies Galore, CanBanCorn or Creamy Sriracha.  For handmade pizza from scratch, Authentic New York Pizza on S. Staples is the home of the best 16-inch pizza in town. As the pizza is served steaming hot and loaded with tasty toppings, you are sure to be delightfully satisfied. Their specialty pizzas are Penne a la Vodka, Chicken Alfredo, Greek, Brooklyn Bomber and Texas Pizza. The favorites include Hawaiian and Margarita with homemade mozzarella.  Stone-baked pizza at Island Italian Restaurant is worth every minute. Your choices of toppings are pepperoni, sausage, ham, anchovy, mushrooms, beef, Canadian bacon, Italian rope sausage and more.

Sylvia Slezak is the director of marketing and social media at For more information, visit us online at corpuschristi and explore the featured premier restaurants, attractions and local events.

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TRAVEL This fall, CCIA plans to get started on a new $7 million perimeter fence. This fence will enhance CCIA’s ability to keep intruders out of the secured portion of the airfield. Ninety percent of the project will be paid for by the FAA. When this project is completed, the airport, along with its tenants and customers, will be better protected by nine-and-a-half miles of fence, additional cameras and high-tech security gates.

Upcoming projects and upgrades at Corpus Christi International Airport By: KIM BRIDGER-HUNT


nfrastructure is a funny thing – not funny “ha ha,” but funny in that we tend to take it for granted. So it’s hard to get excited about certain kinds of projects even when you know they are necessary. At Corpus Christi International Airport (CCIA), we are tackling some significant ones over the next few years. These projects range from a major road rehabilitation and a big security project to the first phases of a terminal restoration. CCIA has a critical role to play in the Coastal Bend for many, many years to come. It’s a responsibility that airport managers take seriously, and it requires a great deal of planning and plotting for future needs.

If you plan to fly away any time soon, please remember that CCIA is your airport. The more you use your airport, the better our chances of adding services that are important to you when you travel. And when you drive up International Drive and make your way in to the terminal, know that there are projects in the works to make the experience always better, safer and more convenient.


The long drive up International Drive is long overdue for improvements. As part of Bond 2012, which was approved by voters, this road is the main way in and out of airport property. Incidentally, it’s the only road at the airport that is a designated city street. Beginning in early August, visitors to the airport will start to see the work begin. Starting on the North end closest to Highway 44, work crews will first do some utility work extending water and wastewater lines under International Drive. Right after that, the rehabilitation of International will begin. During the six-month project, traffic lanes will be reduced at times with the contractor making every effort to lessen the inconvenience to customers. Fencing in and fencing out Airports are constantly assessing their security plans and working to comply with the requirements set forth by both the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

Kim Bridger-Hunt is the marketing manager at Corpus Christi International Airport. For more information, contact her at


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The terminal Most visitors to CCIA still think of the terminal as brand-new – but the “new” facility opened in 2000. Like any 16-year-old building, it’s beginning to show its age. While the terminal will serve the community well in terms of capacity for many years to come, there are systems that need to be replaced and worn-out equipment that is surpassing its useful life. Over the next several years, the airport will experience an infusion of new technology; some of it will be noticeable by customers, and some of it will not necessarily be apparent. One thing we know for certain is that visitors to Corpus Christi need to see our city at its best. As both a gateway to Corpus Christi and a “last impression” for visitors, CCIA strives to be a modern, convenient, comfortable place for travelers so that they always feel welcome and “at home” while spending time here.

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Roxanna Hernandez

Medical Clerk at the Law Offices of Alex R. Hernandez Jr. I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M



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Why I love what I do:

Having a nursing background has provided me knowledge to work as a medical clerk with my husband’s law firm. Its wonderful being able to help people in this capacity, and also that my job affords me a flexible schedule so I can have time to be a “hands-on” mother to my two children – my greatest joy!

My philosophy:

Be bold enough to use your voice, brave enough to listen to your heart and strong enough to live the life you’ve always imagined.

Words to live by:

If you want something you’ve never had, then you’ve got to do something you’ve never done. I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M







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From the Beatles to Miranda Lambert to Steve Trevino, American Bank Center will definitely be the place for great live entertainment this August and September. By: KRISTEN BILY

1964: The Tribute Friday, Aug. 19 American Bank Center Selena Auditorium Take a trip down memory lane for 1964: The Tribute. Said to be the “best Beatles tribute on earth” by Rolling Stone Magazine, it has perfected the energy and excitement of a live Beatles performance like no other. Just like actors, these musicians cast a spell as they step into character right before your very eyes. Critics and fans internationally have hailed 1964: The Tribute as the most authentic Beatles tribute in the world. For more than 29 years, this group of performers has successfully recreated every sensation of being at a Beatles concert circa 1964 through 1966 from wardrobe to hairstyle, with Liverpool accents, singing nuances and vintage instruments.

The Beach Boys Tuesday, Aug. 23, 7:30 p.m. American Bank Center Selena Auditorium Join us for some good vibrations as the Beach Boys bring back

a night full of nostalgia. As the Beach Boys celebrate 50 years with the Good Vibrations Tour, fans can expect to be taken back through time to hear all of their favorite songs that they grew up with, and that have been part of great American pop culture throughout the years. The Beach Boys have sold over 100 million records worldwide, and have received more than 33 RIAA Platinum and Gold record awards. The Beach Boys play an astoundingly busy schedule of concerts, averaging 150 shows a year, ranging from sundrenched summer festivals to gala New Year’s celebrations and special events worldwide.

Steve Trevino: The Relatable Tour Saturday, Aug. 27, 8 p.m. American Bank Center Selena Auditorium Finding his way from a Hispanic upbringing in a small South Texas town to living his dream in Hollywood, Steve Treviño has infused his comedy with a “TexMex” sensibility. However, as a performer, he has a uniquely

American voice that transcends anything about ethnicity, making him universally relatable. Outside of being a national headliner, Treviño has made memorable appearances on “The Late Late Show,” “Comics Unleashed” and “BET Comic View,” among others. He also wrote on “Mind of Mencia” and produced and wrote on rapper Pit Bull’s “La Esquina.” Treviño landed in the Nielsen Top 20, with his first Showtime comedy special, “Grandpa Joe’s Son.” His second special, “Relatable,” can currently be seen on Netflix.

Miranda Lambert: Keeper of the Flame Tour (with special guest Kip Moore and Brothers Osborne) Thursday, Sept. 15, 7:30 p.m. American Bank Center Arena Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Miranda Lambert is coming to the American Bank Center Arena on Sept. 15, and she is bringing some friends along for the party! Miranda Lambert is the reigning seven-time ACM Female Vocalist of the Year. “Automatic,” the first single off of Lambert’s fifth studio album, “Platinum,” was Lambert’s highest-charting first-week single to date, and it won CMA and ACM “Song of the Year.” Her duet with Carrie Underwood, the album’s second single, “Somethin’ Bad,” has been certified as an RIAA Platinum Digital Single. “Platinum” made history when it debuted atop Billboard’s Top Country Albums Chart, making Lambert the first country artist in the history of the chart to have each of her five albums debut at No. 1. In addition to her award-winning music, she dedicates much of

her time to her MuttNation Foundation, an organization that supports shelters and helps pets find a forever home.

Ron White with Special Guest Josh Blue Friday, Sept. 23, 8 p.m. American Bank Center Selena Auditorium Comedian Ron “Tater Salad” White first rose to fame as the cigar-smoking, scotch-drinking funnyman from the Blue Collar Comedy Tour phenomenon, but now as a chart-topping, Grammy-nominated comedian and a feature film actor, White has established himself as a star in his own right. White has always been a classic storyteller. His stories relay tales from his real life, ranging from growing up in a small town in Texas to sharing stories of his daily life to becoming one of the most successful comedians in America. Josh Blue exploded onto the national comedy scene by capturing the attention and endearment of the country as the winner of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing.” Having already established himself as one of the most sought-after comedians on the college circuit, his weekly appearances on “Last Comic” in summer 2006 expanded his fan base exponentially.  Most recently, Blue debuted a one-hour Showtime special, “Sticky Change.” The special is currently available on Netflix.  He has appeared twice on “Ron White’s Comedy Salute to the Troops” on CMT, and he recently made his late-night television debut on “The Late Show with Craig Ferguson.”

SMG-managed American Bank Center is Corpus Christi’s premier event center. Follow us online at, or, and on Instagram (@americanbankcenter), Tumblr (@American Bank Center), Periscope (@Americanbankcenter) and Snapchat (@americanbnkctr).


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This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Heart Walk, a fundraiser dedicated to helping the American Heart Association in its mission to improve employee health and wellness in the Coastal Bend. By: ERIN WILDER

employees – and that has a positive impact on a company’s bottom line. “Being on a Heart Walk team is fun, and we encourage everyone to contribute if they can,” Reyes said. “But more importantly, we want them to just get out, walk, take steps towards a healthier lifestyle and show their support.” The 2016 Corpus Christi Heart Walk will be held at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 1, at Whataburger Field. This year, event leaders are aiming to raise over $325,000 toward heart research. Walkers can participate as individuals, join a team or start their own team with family, friends or neighbors. The Heart Walk is sponsored nationally by Subway, with major local support from AEP Texas.

Erin Wilder is the executive director of the American Heart Association – Corpus Christi. For more information, or to register for the Heart Walk, visit or call the American Heart Association at 361-445-3190.


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ealth problems cost corporate America nearly $100 billion each year in productivity losses. Read that again: $100 billion in losses every year. So it might sound strange, but business leaders have become health care leaders by default. They are, at some level, contributing to the health, good or bad, of their employees and the employees’ families. Julio Reyes, AEP Texas vice president of external affairs, has seen an opportunity to connect the company’s already strong wellness incentive programs to their annual participation in the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk. The Heart Walk, held in more than 300 cities across the country, brings together companies, community walking teams, heart and stroke survivors, caregivers and people from all walks of life to raise funds and awareness for the American Heart Association in its fight against cardiovascular disease and stroke. This year is the 20th anniversary of the event in Corpus Christi, which is presented by AEP Texas, which also participates as a Heart Walk team each year. “It’s part of our employee culture and DNA to be involved in the communities we serve,” said Reyes, who also serves as the chairman of the Heart Walk this year. “We believe the American Heart Association’s mission is critical to the lives of our employees and everyone in the Coastal Bend.” Reyes and other local business leaders see multiple benefits in joining the Heart Walk. Not only is employee culture strengthened when groups work together toward a common cause, but it also reinforces the Heart Walk’s key message that creating a healthy lifestyle creates healthy


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After more than seven decades in operation, the Gulf Coast Humane Society continues its mission of caring and finding loving forever homes for animals in the Coastal Bend. By: KAITLIN CALK


he Gulf Coast Humane Society (GCHS) was founded in 1945 by a group of animal lovers in Corpus Christi, Texas, with the prevention of animal cruelty as our mission. As the years progressed, the mission of GCHS shifted to caring and finding loving forever homes for homeless cats and dogs, spreading the message of proper pet care and guardianship and educating on the importance of spaying and neutering. In addition to reducing the overpopulation of stray dogs and cats by promoting adoption, we provide the community with spay and neuter services with our community outreach program. It is only through donations (item, in kind and monetary) that we are able to keep our doors open to save an estimated 1,800 animals a year. This includes working with Animal Care and Control Services to pull animals directly from their euthanasia lists on a regular basis. These donations also allow us to operate with a full veterinary clinic, which includes an in-house veterinarian, thus allowing us to provide our animals with access to immediate, top-notch medical care. All of our animals are vaccinated and sterilized before adoption. They are also micro-chipped, behaviorally assessed and given a full physical examination before they go into their new homes. Each adopter goes home with a bag of food, and all dogs go home with their first six months of heartworm prevention. When heartworm-positive dogs are adopted, we provide the treatment at no extra cost to the adopter. Donations also allow us to have a successful foster care program. This program has saved hundreds of infant puppies and kittens, as well as given senior animals an opportunity to live out their golden years in a foster home. Our foster parents are provided with all food, supplies and medical care at no cost to them – all they need to provide is excellent care to the animals that they are fostering, as well as loving, temporary homes.


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As we are a no-kill shelter, our staff strongly believes that every animal deserves an equal chance at adoption. All animals that come in with behavior or health problems are attended to by a caring, dedicated group of staff members and volunteers to properly socialize and provide any medical care necessary. While we have treated hundreds of animals for countless medical issues over the years, we were recently able to nurse a kitten back from the brink of death. On a cold day in February, our staff discovered that a kitten had been abandoned on our property. She was weak and dehydrated, and she had severely infected bite wounds on her back. This little girl, whom we named Tuesday, could barely hold her head up. With hours of hydrotherapy and close monitoring over the next several weeks, Tuesday began to perk up and play. Happily, Tuesday was adopted just a few days after she became available for adoption! GCHS has served the community for more than 70 years, and we will continue to do so until every homeless animal in our city has a loving family to call their own. The Gulf Coast Humane Society is located at 3118 Cabaniss Parkway in Corpus Christi, Texas. Donations can be made at the facility or on the website:



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Hispanic Women’s Network

18th Annual

Las Estrellas Gala

Denim & Diamonds Friday, September 9th, 2016, 6:00 pm -9:00 p.m. Solomon P. Ortiz Center Dinner by The Corpus Christi Mustangs For sponsorship opportunities/information or tickets, contact Linda Benavides at or 361-537-4322

Mission Statement: To promote the advancement of women in public, corporate and civic life.


...\arnold gonzale...

Arnold Gonzales

Margaret DeVille

Hector Bernal

Dr. Velda Vela-Trujillo

Leonides (Leon) G. Bazar

Laura Garza Jimenez

James Perez & Family

Libby Averyt I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M



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Inspire Coastal Bend Business Aug/Sept 2016  
Inspire Coastal Bend Business Aug/Sept 2016