Two gay men among One Man Dallas semifinalists

Joseph Hernandez, left, and Steven Weir

Because women volunteer at a greater rate, group formed to encourage men to give their time

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Two gay men are among the 20 Dallas men who have been nominated for the title of One Man Dallas, presented by an organization that honors men who volunteer. Because women volunteer at a rate five times that of men, One Man was created to encourage and honor men who volunteer.

The project began in 2009 with One Man Minneapolis. Last year the group added Chicago and this year Dallas.

From hundreds of applications, the field was narrowed to 20 semifinalists. Nominees had to be men between ages 24 and 44 who are affiliated with a local charity and live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

The 20 semifinalists are competing to become One Man Dallas, which will be awarded on May 19. Among them are Joseph Hernandez who volunteers for Habitat for Humanity, and Steven Weir who is a board member of Legacy Counseling Center.

Hernandez has been a Habitat volunteer for about 11 years.

“One thing I do is serve as their banker and I work on homebuilding projects,” Hernandez said.

Each year, Habitat provides about 100 homes for low-income people in Dallas.

Habitat is celebrating its 25th anniversary in Dallas this year. Since 1986, it has helped 850 low-income families. They have invested $95 million in Dallas in more than 20 neighborhoods and have increased the tax base by $2 million annually.

When constructing new homes, Hernandez said that volunteers do everything that doesn’t require a licensed contractor. He said there’s a spot on a construction site for anyone.

“They take people based on expertise and put them in the right place,” he said. “There’s something that everybody can do.”

For the more experienced that includes nailing framework and installing sheetrock, but for less experienced volunteers there’s planting landscaping, painting and cleanup.

And as their banker, Hernandez works with each of the applicants for a Habitat home to ensure their success in the program.

Steve Weir has been the board chair for Legacy Counseling Center for several years. Legacy provides counseling services for people with HIV and a substance abuse program in Oak Lawn and operates Legacy Founders Cottage, a 24-hour supervised special care facility in Oak Cliff.

Legacy’s executive director, Melissa Grove, called Weir an amazing volunteer who works throughout the community.

In addition to his work with Legacy, Weir has done fundraising for Lambda Legal, Legal Hospice of Texas and Home for the Holidays, been a team captain for LifeWalk and collected silent auction items for Genesis Women’s Shelter.

Grove said, “I’d be tickled if a gay man won” the One Man title.

She credited the LGBT community with volunteering at a much higher rate than the general population and said that should be highlighted for the community. She was surprised more gay men weren’t among the finalists.

Voting takes place on the OneManDallas.com site. Anyone can sign in and vote once a day.

Two additional happy hours will take place before the final event. On May 4, all of the finalists will be at Board Room Salon in Highland Park Village and on May 12 at Aloft Hotel in Downtown Dallas from 6 to 8 p.m.

The final show will be on May 19 at Gables Park 17, a new high rise on McKinney Avenue at Akard Street, at 7:30 p.m. Five finalists will be announced. Those five will participate in a live competition involving fashion, pop culture trivia and interviews. Denise Lee will be among the entertainment.

The winner will split $5,000 with his charity and win a wardrobe from J Hilburn.

More information on Dallas Habitat for Humanity at DallasAreaHabitat.org, about Legacy Counseling at LegacyCounseling.org and on One Man Dallas at OneManDallas.com.

—  John Wright