Department of Neighborhoods
Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities

Mayor's Disability Advocate of the Year Awards - 2008


Disability Advocates 2008JOE HALLMARK
Joe Hallmark graduated Texas A&M University in 1973. The following summer he suffered a neck injury that severed his spinal cord and caused paralysis of his hands and lower body. After a rehabilitation stint at TIRR Memorial Hermann he was able to return to work. He married his wonderful wife in 1979. He continued his career until retiring in 2002.


After retiring he began a “second career” of volunteering. He began volunteering in the TIRR Peer Program that gives patients at the rehab center the opportunity to talk with people who have experienced spinal cord injury. Soon he became Coordinator of the program. He and the volunteers he works with have given recently-injured patients living examples of how they have dealt with their disability and become productive people with active lives. Joe has also worked with Literacy Advance Houston helping adults in Houston who are unable to read.


If there is one work to describe Deborah Nowinski – that would be ADVOCATE. She is the Artistic Director/Founder of Dionysus Theatre, a non-profit organization that brings the theatre experience to teens and adults with disabilities and those who are non-disabled. She empowers her actors with disabilities to create better lives for themselves. The actors who are non-disabled leave Dionysus with a global view and better understanding on disability issues. Deborah not only directs and writes the plays, she also teaches classes. Teaching those to write their own material, Deborah unleashes creativity in those who have been ignored and overlooked. The actors finish their classes with better self-esteem and proudly wear the title. Actor”. Because of Deborah Nowinski, Dionysus lives up to its motto, “changing lives…one act at a time.” H.D. Woodruff III


Better known as Trey, is a young man who has accomplished much in a short time. He sets a wonderful example for youth today, while enjoying that much life has to offer, he has never forgotten his love and dedication to those less fortunate. Trey began volunteering with The Arc of Greater Houston when he was just a child, so he has literally grown up as part of the Arc family and has true compassion and understanding for persons with cognitive disabilities. Trey has demonstrated his commitment through volunteering with programs such as the Adventure Club, which offers community-based activities to individuals aged 15 and older with developmental disabilities to volunteering at the Cy-Fair Sports and Life-Skills camp. He has also served as a counselor for The Arc of Greater Houston’s Camp Champions overnight, residential camp – a five-day camp for individuals, ages 10-30, with and without developmental disabilities. For these many reasons and the fact that Trey is still continuing his volunteer work with people with developmental disabilities Trey is an outstanding recipient of the 2008 Mayor’s Disability Advocate of the Year Award, Junior Advocate.