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Marvelous Men

Making their Marks

Malibu is filled with remarkable men who make a positive difference in everything they do. The following four men in particular have spent the majority of their lives working toward the greater good for all.

Alex Abdalla, Captain of Fire Station 88

“Don’t count the days—make the days count.” –Muhammad Ali

As the captain of Fire Station 88 in Malibu, Alex Abdalla takes great pride in the vocation that enables him to have a positive impact on other people’s lives—especially in the midst of tragedy.

“Some days, work can be very difficult,” says Alex, a resident of Oak Park. But responding to a structure fire or helping a person in need “really keeps me going, knowing I can positively impact someone on their worst possible day. I appreciate instances where I can make somebody’s day a little brighter.”

Alex found his calling to the Fire Department at an early age.

“When I got out of high school, I thought I wanted to be a vet,” Alex remembers. “Then I started taking fire science classes and found I had a strong interest…so I made the career choice around 18 years old and was hired by South Pasadena in 2001. I was there almost five years then I was hired on by L.A. County.”

In addition to his job, “my family keeps me busy outside of work,” says Alex, who has two sons, ages 3 and 5, and a daughter on the way. When he’s on duty, especially during busy times like the fire season, he can be away from home for long periods of time, “so when I go home, I try to be the most active parent as I possibly can.”

Looking back on his life so far, he believes his greatest accomplishment is “my family 100%!” This is a big reason why he’s looking forward to the next chapter in his life, because “my oldest is going to be 14 when I retire. I’m really looking forward to being able to be an active parent with school and sports and be a part of all those formative years of my kids.”

When it comes to the immediate future, “I am very happy being able to serve the community of Malibu, and I’m looking forward to continuing to do so for the foreseeable future,” he says. Upon retirement, “I’m also looking forward to spending time with my family, including vacations, watching my family grow and being an active part of their lives.”

As far as his secrets to success, Alex believes “persistence, hard work and not giving up” are important key factors to manifesting goals and dreams.

“Stick with something—it can always get better if you put in the effort.” Additionally, “stay passionate about what you want. If you’re passionate, the interest will always stay there and the work will not seem like work.”

These ideals coincide with one of Alex’s favorite quotes by Muhammad Ali: “Don’t count the days—make the days count.”

“Especially in today’s world…do the best you can,” Alex emphasizes. “Do what’s best for you and your family.”

This advice is particularly important as the world continues to navigate during these incredibly challenging times.

“Understanding what you have control over and what you don’t have control over is integral…being able to understand that you have the most control over the decisions you make,” he advises. “Continue to make those decisions and don’t worry about what the other person is doing. I think people are good natured and well-intended…it’s important to be able to stay within your lane and make decisions that are best for you, and understand what you have control over.”

 

John Paul DeJoria, Philanthropist

“In the end everything will be okay—and if it’s not okay…it’s not the end.”

John Paul DeJoria worked as a janitor, sold encyclopedias door-to-door and lived in his car long before he became a self-made billionaire, businessman and philanthropist.

“I had a deadbeat dad from 2 years old—I never had a father, but my mother did a damn good job of raising us,” recalls John Paul, adding that he and his brother were in foster care because of medical and financial challenges his mom had at a young age.

Little did he know at the time that these early struggles would pave his future path of helping others in need.

“When I was about 6 years old, my mother took my brother and I to downtown L.A.,” remembers John Paul of the excursion in the 1950s when trolley cars were a primary mode of transportation.

“There was a guy ringing a bell, and my mother gave my brother and I one dime,” he continues. “She told us to walk over together and give the dime to the man ringing the bell and put it in his bucket.”

At such a young age, John Paul was perplexed by the request to give a stranger a dime, “because in those days, that was the cost of three candy bars.”

That’s when his mother told him the man ringing the bell was from The Salvation Army.

“My mom said to us, ‘Boys, that’s The Salvation Army, and they take care of people that have no home to live in and no food to eat,” John Paul remembers. “We could only afford a dime, and my mother told us always to remember there will be somebody who needs more than you and I—never forgot that.”

Flash forward to the man John Paul is today. Widely known as the co-founder of John Paul Mitchell Hair Systems and Patrón Spirits Company, he most recently made a $5 million donation to Austin’s Mobile Loaves and Fishes, a social outreach ministry that has been empowering communities into a lifestyle of service with the homeless since 1998. This ministry includes a 51-acre neighborhood development that provides affordable, permanent housing for those coming out of chronic homelessness.

In other charitable endeavors, John Paul signed Bill Gates and Warren Buffet’s “The Giving Pledge” in 2011 as a formal promise to continue giving back. The same year, he established JP’s Peace, Love & Happiness Foundation as a hub for his charitable investments, which support the core values of his companies: sustainability, social responsibility and animal-friendliness.

“It makes me happy to help someone turn their life around,” John Paul says. “When you give to someone else without asking for anything in return, it’s the best feeling.”

A resident of Austin, Texas, for more than two decades, John Paul also has a house in Malibu which he calls his “family getaway house” that’s big enough for all his loved ones to gather in one location.

“The Malibu house that I built will be there forever and never be sold—it will stay in the family forever,” says John Paul, adding that he has a daughter and grandchildren who live in Malibu, where his favorite restaurant is Ollo on Pacific Coast Highway.

As people throughout the world continue to navigate their lives during today’s challenging times, John Paul offers the following advice: “You cannot change yesterday’s newspapers. It’s already happened, so anything that was negative, get rid of that,” he emphasizes. “The more you’re carrying bad thoughts on your shoulders, the more you’re stuck in the past. Immediately think of something positive—switch your mind to a happy time.”

It’s also important to remember: “In the end everything will be okay—and if it’s not okay…it’s not the end.”

 

Chris Cook, Gas Company Pipeline Technician & Casa Pacifica Volunteer of the Year

“The deed carries its own reward.”

As a Gas Company Pipeline Technician for nearly four decades, Chris Cook takes great pride in making sure that high pressure gas lines are located correctly for contractors and ensuring everyone’s safety.

“I also try my best to lead by example in regard to having a good work ethic—I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty and do the hard work,” says Chris, who was born and raised in Ventura County.

Leading by example also means giving back to his community as a volunteer at Casa Pacifica, a local nonprofit organization that offers adolescent and family services designed to treat victims of abuse and neglect, substance abuse, homelessness, and other behavioral and mental health issues.

At Casa Pacifica, where Chris was named Volunteer of the Year, “I love building things, so anything needed for the children’s parties is fun to plan and build. The parties are always a fun theme. I built a tiki bar for our Hawaiian Christmas a few years ago.”

Chris also volunteers to help with Casa Pacifica’s fundraising events, like the Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival, which has established itself as Ventura County’s premiere Wine & Food event.

“Whatever they need fixed, built or organized—I’m up for it,” Chris emphasizes.

He has also done volunteer work for the City of Ventura, where “I’ve overseen and built four playgrounds around Ventura County.”

Reflecting on his life so far, Chris says one of his greatest accomplishments is staying at the same job as a pipeline technician for nearly four decades. He is also proud of his wife, Tamiann, and their two children, Tyler, age 27, and Sara, age 31.

As far as his secrets to success are concerned, Chris offers the following advice: “Ask what you need and get it done.” When it comes to working with other people, he also believes it’s important to ask: “How can I help? How can I make it easier for you? How can we accomplish what needs to be done?”

What inspires him the most is “helping others.” He especially enjoys overcoming challenges to complete a task and seeing tasks through to the end, so he can move on to the next thing. Also, “being organized inspires me—to be organized means I’m organized on all levels.”

When he’s not involved with work or philanthropy, Chris enjoys playing video games; spending time with his two English retrievers, Bella and Stella; and engaging in activities with his family, such as building items he and his wife see on Pinterest. Additionally, “I would like to get back into softball.”

In the future, he’s looking forward to retirement, as well as upcoming projects at Casa Pacifica.

“There’s so much to be done there. Tami, my wife, is president of the Casa Pacifica Angels, and with her leadership, they are making major events and projects happen.”

While the past two years have been incredibly challenging due to the global pandemic, Chris offers the following words of wisdom: “Stay the course and it will be fine,” he says. “Focus on dealing with the here. Accept the facts. Try to be prepared, but be flexible to adjust to the situation.”

 

Nathan Jones, Jones Builders Group & Boys & Girls Club of Malibu Board President

“Work hard or starve.”

Originally from Wales, Nathan Jones moved to L.A. in 2001 to play rugby for the Santa Monica Rugby Club and work in the construction industry. Four years later, he started working in Malibu building homes for celebrities—and has since created countless bespoke homes in Malibu, Venice, Santa Monica and the Hollywood Hills. 

Today, as the driving force behind the Jones Builders Group, Nathan brings the very best out of renowned architects and subcontractors alike—earning him a reputation for finding a solution to every problem.

“Our clients are successful people, and they know exactly what they want,” says the Malibu resident. “They have great taste and they don’t cut corners. So it’s our aim to use our knowledge and expertise to over-deliver on their vision.”

To that end, Nathan takes great pride in “creating people’s dreams,” as well as “offering employment and opportunities to people.”

He also takes pride in serving as the Board of Directors President for the Boys & Girls Club of Malibu where his children attended the Webster Elementary Clubhouse, a site where the Boys & Girls Club provides every child with the opportunity to benefit from a team of professionals and enriching programs.

“I saw firsthand when my kids attended Webster how an incredible afterschool program is a positive influence on children and a great resource for families,” recalls Nathan, who also renovated, pro bono, the newest of the clubhouses at Webster Elementary. “As I got to know more about the Boys & Girls Club, I found out they have a vast offering of services to children of all school ages and community support.”

Nathan’s close ties to the Boys & Girls Club organization is similar to that of his grandfather, who is the CEO of a Boys & Girls Club in Wales that has achieved enormous sporting success and earned his grandfather an MBE (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) from the British Royal Family.

Reflecting on his life so far, Nathan remembers inspirational people who helped him along the way. For instance, Nathan recalls his father quoting his grandmother: “Work hard or starve.” Nathan is also inspired by the book, Man’s Search for Meaning, written by Viktor E. Frankl about his experiences as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps during World War II.

“To go through the worst that mankind could do to you and get through it with hope and laughter was humbling to read,” Nathan remembers.

When he’s not working or volunteering, Nathan enjoys playing soccer with his children, as well as taking them to their favorite activities. As far as the future is concerned, one of his goals is “to live in Florence for a year or two and truly discover the city and Tuscany.”

Reflecting on the past two years—and how communities are still working through the pandemic—Nathan offers the following advice: “I believe we are in for another two or three years of change—we have to be flexible at all times to adjust to whatever is in front of us.”

  • Alex Abdulla
  • John Paul DeJoria
  • Nathan Jones