By Heather DiPrato. Photos by Cindy Fatsis
Don Schuler met his wife, Dawn, at her father’s church in South Philadelphia. “I had reached the end of myself, and I challenged God that if He is who He says He is, then manifest Himself to me in a way that I will understand,” Don explains. “I promised that, if He led me to a bible-teaching church, with a pastor who truly served God, a place where I could find my future wife, that I would serve Him forever.”
Not long after, Don tells us, “I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and the following week, I walked into the church and saw this beautiful lady singing in the choir. It was Dawn, I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. I got tunnel vision and said, ‘that is going to be my wife!’ The Schulers began their family in the Goldenridge section of Levittown and moved to Lower Makefield about 20 years ago. Don and Dawn each have college degrees and are ordained ministers. Don is a licensed insurance broker specializing in the senior market.
Dawn worked in an Orthodontist’s office in Yardley for 18 years and is currently working as an Orthodontic and General Assistant at The Dentist of Newtown. As a preacher’s daughter, Dawn says she loves people, “I’d like to think that in my career and life that it’s important to treat each person and child as if they were members of my own family.” Looking back, Don recalls the couple’s early days, sitting at an Ikea dining table for two, planning their family and future lives together, “now here we are, 36 years later, happily married, with 3 children.”
Faith and ministry have played an important role in the Schulers’ lives. In June of 1999, the Schulers established the Genesis Community Church and leased a 5000 square foot building in Newtown. In 2007, when the building’s owner went through a divorce, the couple was unable to come to an agreement with the new property owner. They eventually moved the church, first to their own basement, then to rented space at the Hilton in Newtown to support their congregation.
In 2016, Don and Dawn tell us, “we knew it was time to go on sabbatical and wait to hear from the Lord for our next assignment.”
After moving to Yardley, Don and Dawn began holding informal “Good Friday” services on their front lawn for their neighbors. Although they are on a sabbatical from a formal church role, they are always seeking ways to connect and serve God and the community. This spring, when churches were closed and many people were longing for spiritual connection, a neighbor asked the Schuler family if they would consider continuing their outdoor ministry. They were honored to bring neighbors together again, distanced in their yard, for a meaningful holiday service.
The family has also created a series on YouTube videos called, “Straight Up with the Schulers: Family to Family.” Their candid videos touch on topics meaningful to the everyday family. Dawn’s greatest passion is supporting and encouraging families and especially mothers. “This show is an opportunity for us to connect with families around the world,” says Dawn. The Schuler children, Don, Jr., Diamond, and Matthew, all have a passion for music and beautiful singing voices. During our photo shoot, the Schuler family spontaneously broke out in song more than once, and it was a delightful thing to hear.
According to his parents, Donald Jr started singing and acting as soon as he could talk. Growing up in such an education and entertainment-focused family gave Donald the push he needed to feel comfortable in his own skin to pursue his dreams, both on and off stage. He was deeply inspired by his great grandfather, Jim Leonard, who was the first African American set designer for a full-length motion picture (The Burglar) and his aunt, Broadway actress Michelle Grier (The Lion King).
Asked about his goals, Don Jr. says, “I’d like to empower people and change the world through education and entertainment.” Today, he is a TEDx Talk speaker, certified life coach, actor, former Division I-AA college football player and teacher, and explains, “I travel to various colleges, schools, universities, and businesses aiming to help become the best version of themselves mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally.” Donald’s talks, performances, and lessons center around helping people become the best version of themselves. Donald started acting and singing professionally in 2013 while attending Morgan State University and is currently represented by Avanti Talent Management in New York City, as well as Houla Entertainment in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Don Jr met his wife, Tiffanny, at Morgan State University when they were both enrolled in the same graduate course. Tiffanny grew up Prince George’s County, MD, graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion Merchandising, and is an International Retail Buyer. She travels to India and Asia working with business professionals to secure and create innovative product to bring to America. Don says of their initial courtship, “Tiffanny wanted to borrow my book for the class. She was absolutely gorgeous, and I suggested we study in the library together.” Fortunately, she agreed. “Tiffanny’s goal is to inspire and empower all those who she meets,” says Don Jr. “I’d like people to know that no matter what career you choose, choose your passion as it will always fuel your purpose,” Tiffanny explains. The couple married on June 16, 2018, at the Morrisville Presbyterian Church.
The Schulers’ middle child, Matthew, is 27 and is a professional recording artist and performer. “He travels all over the country performing,” says his mom. Matthew got his start in the music industry when he auditioned for NBC’s The Voice in 2013, breaking the record for the fastest 4 chair-turn, making it to the top 6, and even charting on the Billboard Hot 100 with his rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. He’s been performing for a living ever since. “I love what I do,” says Matthew, “and I’m excited to share new music with everyone during a time when we could all use something to look forward to, and a song to sing.”
He explains that being on The Voice and becoming a recording artist has been a blessing for him and his family. “We were able to show the world what a loving family, one that supports each other’s dreams, can look like.” Matthew also appreciates the support of the community, “Yardley was instrumental in my success on the show, and my growth into the person I am today. I make alternative- pop music and a lot of the music that inspired me to create my own sound, I learned from the friends that I grew up with here in Yardley. Everyone in my family is super inspirational and has their own gifts they use to help others and the community.”
Over the years, Matthew’s music has taken him all over the US, as well as to countries like Germany, South Africa, and Jamaica. He tells us that he has learned the best thing to do in any situation is, “be the person God made me to be.” Matthew believes that “every person has a destiny and a calling that aligns with the gifts and natural aptitudes they received at conception.” His philosophy is that anyone can make a difference. “Every last one of us can make a difference in the lives of others when we use what we’ve been given and make the most out of it,” he continues, “we’ll make mistakes along the way for sure, but in the end, we’ll be who we’re meant to be, and help others along their path, too.”
Matthew attended Bucks County Community College and transitioned to West Chester University prior to being selected for The Voice. Today, he is pursuing his music career full time. “I definitely want to go back to school someday and finish my degree in English with a business minor,” Matthew says.
Diamond is the youngest Schuler child and is married to Rasheed Douyon. Rasheed and Diamond, both 25, have always had a love and passion for music which stemmed from their church upbringing. They were each involved in the choir and any musical activities the church had to offer. During his childhood, Rasheed played the drums and piano, while Diamond took up the choral ensemble and the violin throughout her elementary to high school years. Their passion for entertainment, especially music, carried over into their career paths and majors in college.
The Douyons met at Diamond’s Junior Prom in 2011, began dating in October 2012, and were married in October of 2019. Rasheed grew up in Bensalem. “We went to each other’s proms, graduations, and went away to school together, we’ve truly navigated adulthood together.” Diamond loved growing up in Yardley. “Getting to know the kids in my neighborhood, riding the bus together, and building friendships,” says Diamond of her childhood, “our neighbors were always so friendly, helping with carpooling if we missed the bus, or taking turns being the parent at the bus stop on cold days and giving us a warm place to wait. I’ve just always had a great experience with my neighbors!”
Diamond built lifelong bonds that started during her childhood in Yardley. “I met one of my best friends, Madison Wichman, in my neighborhood. She was even a bridesmaid in my wedding!” Diamond says she has always felt loved and embraced by the community and, “has had some of the greatest moments of life in Pennsbury School District.” One special memory included being Sports Nite Queen, the second African American woman to hold that title in Pennsbury’s history.
Rasheed chose business marketing in college to learn how the industry runs, and how to navigate the back end of the industry. Diamond chose journalism, then public relations, and advertising to understand the voice of the industry and storytelling. Both Rasheed and Diamond have used their passion for communications and marketing to help the family. They have done things such as creating flyers, videos, websites, and promotional products for their siblings in the entertainment industry. Diamond tells us, “we have both learned the importance of being self-starters and seeking out opportunities, not just waiting for them to come to us.” Rasheed says, “every connection you make, big or small, can get you one step closer to your dreams.”
The family enjoys spending time together and gets together as a family nearly every Sunday. They also enjoy travel when they are able. “About two weeks or so after Matthew was off NBC’s The Voice,” says Diamond, “the family took a two-week trip to Jamaica between Christmas and New Year’s, for the Shaggy and Friends Benefit Concert that Matthew participated in raising funds for the Bustamante Children’s Hospital.” She explains, “There were over 30,000 people in attendance. After the event, we spent New Year’s in Jamaica at some of the most amazing parties and events with celebrities such as Shaggy, Wayne Marshall, Tessane Chin, Usain Bolt, and more. It was an unreal experience!”
The Schuler family has expressed appreciation and thanks to our community for their welcoming spirit and support of the family’s faith and music. You can learn more about the Schuler family on their Facebook page at https://www. facebook.com/StraightUpWithTheSchulers