The more you share with others, the more you get in return. Those are the words I try to live by,” says Mike Pappas.
“All through my life I’ve been lucky,” he says. “A lot of people have been good to me over the years, and I want to return the favor.”
Particularly during the holiday season, many people talk about finding ways to help the less-fortunate in our neighborhood. But Pappas, the elected constable of Dallas County Precinct 1 (which includes most or our neighborhood), doesn’t just talk the talk – he is involved with a number of civic organizations year-round.
“You would be hard-pressed to find someone more dedicated than Mike Pappas to helping others in our community,” says neighborhood resident Don Wilson, president of the Dallas Northeast Chamber of Commerce. Wilson has known and worked with Pappas for the past 15 years.
“You can always count on Mike not to just say he’ll do something, but actually to pick out the most difficult job and simply find a way to get it done. And he does it all with a smile.”
A neighbor with a similar attitude inspired him when he was growing up, Pappas says.
“He was the father of a friend of mine, but he treated all of the kids in the neighborhood like we were his own sons and daughters. He was a good man with great principles.
“I remember he talked about being a member of the Masonic Temple and some of the things they were doing to help others. It made a huge impact on me, and I knew I wanted to be like him.
“So when I turned 21 years old, I decided to become a Mason,” Pappas says.
As a member of the Claud L. Austin 1450 Masonic Lodge and an active member of Dallas Scottish Rite and Hella Shrine Temple, Pappas is involved with such projects as the “Together Against Drugs Program,” which he helped institute in the elementary schools throughout the Dallas area in 1993.
The program promotes classes, taught by a law enforcement officer and a local Mason, for fifth graders teaching them how to say “no” to their friends about drugs, drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes. Pappas says the approach not only teaches children how to cope with peer pressure, but also how to consider the consequences of making bad decisions.
As the immediate past president of the Exchange Club in Lake Highlands, Pappas says this neighborhood service organization is another way he chose to become involved in helping children. The Exchange Club’s main efforts are geared to preventing child abuse. A member since 1994, Pappas also has been the group’s program chairman and membership chairman. Once an organization for men only, it now includes women as members, which Pappas says is a good thing: “Our children really are the responsibility of an entire community.”
The Exchange Club also annually gives college scholarship awards to deserving students of Lake Highlands High School. Approximately $40,000 a year in scholarships are awarded to students, based on either scholastic achievement or financial need. The club also recognizes a Youth of the Month, Youth of the Year, as well as reaching out to “unsung heroes” – ordinary neighborhood people who have had a positive impact on someone’s life.
As a law enforcement officer with more than 19 years of service, Pappas holds an Advanced Proficiency Certification from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education. In this capacity, he has established the Mental Health “APOWW team” to assist the mentally ill and chemically dependent in Dallas County. He also is a member of the Park Cities Lions Club, a member of the Dallas Crime Commission, and serves on the Crime Stoppers Reward Committee. He’s a former member of the board of directors for the White Rock/Lake Highlands YMCA, is an Advisory Board member of the Dallas Northeast Chamber of Commerce, and has served as a Family Campaign Chairman, North Trail District, for the Boy Scouts of America, Circle Ten Council for two years.
An associate member of the Marine Corps League, Pappas has been honored by the United States Marine Corps for service to the military and civilian community in Dallas. Actively involved in the political scene at many levels of government, Pappas was invited by the American Council of Young Political Leaders to tour Hungary in 1994 to share political philosophies and discuss political processes.
Pappas received the YWCA’s “Volunteer With a Heart” award and the East Dallas Chamber of Commerce “Outstanding Volunteer Service Award.” In addition to the Community Service Award from the National Alliance of the Mentally Ill, Baylor Health Care System recently recognized Pappas for his support and commitment to the operation of the Baylor Health Care System Police Department.
Pappas credits his wife, Sandy, for having a major influence on his career. Like her husband, Sandy also is involved in a variety of civic organizations. The couple attends Lake Highlands Methodist Church, where Pappas serves on the Board of Directors.
They have two daughters, both of whom attended Lake Highlands High School. Melissa, 25, is married and has a 6-month old son. She is a graduate of Texas A&M University. Staci, 18, attends McMurry University in Abilene.
Of his rich life, Pappas says: “The more you share with others, the more you get in return.”