Danielle Victoria: Founder of Danielle Victoria Music Foundation

Danielle Victoria, founder of the Danielle Victoria Music Foundation, photographed at the Musical Instrument Museum in Scottsdale, by Nicki Escudero

Danielle Victoria, founder of the Danielle Victoria Music Foundation, photographed at the Musical Instrument Museum in Scottsdale, by Nicki Escudero

Danielle Victoria
www.dvmusicfoundation.com

Danielle Victoria knows the power of music, having played piano since she was only 5 years old and having a strong passion for the art form. The 17-year-old Scottsdale resident founded the Danielle Victoria Music Foundation in March 2015 to help provide music education to Arizona’s underprivileged students, by working with local arts and educational organizations to offer needs-based scholarships for music education.

Victoria talked about why she felt helping kids through music education in Arizona is important, and you can hear her name her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

After living in New York, my parents decided to relocate to Arizona in 2007.

I was born in Malaysia and switched between London, Hong Kong, and Malaysia for my first seven years due to my parents’ work. My family then moved to New York and lived there for two years before moving here to Arizona. This is our eighth year here, and I currently attend Desert Mountain High School as a senior and International Baccalaureate student. Continue reading

Elena Thornton: Founder of Arizona Consortium for the Arts

Elena Thornton, founder of Arizona Consortium for the Arts, photographed at Dog-Eared Pages Used Books in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Elena Thornton, founder of Arizona Consortium for the Arts, photographed at Dog-Eared Pages Used Books in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Elena Thornton
www.artizona.org

Elena Thornton believes the arts are instrumental in the advancement of humanity. In an effort to help support and foster arts and culture here in the Valley, she founded the Arizona Consortium for the Arts in 2007, which puts on free art events and festivals throughout the Phoenix area and sponsors literary and poetry magazines. The nonprofit’s monthly open mics, spanning all disciplines and genres, take place at the Dog-Eared Pages Used Books in Phoenix every last Thursday of the month from 5 to 7 p.m., including this Thursday, May 28.

Thornton’s ultimate goal for the Arizona Consortium for the Arts is to use it as a vehicle to open a multicultural center that will be free for local arts groups to use, as rehearsal, performing and recording space and more. The 53-year-old Phoenix resident talked more about her goals for the Arizona Consortium for the Arts and for Valley arts, and you can hear her name her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

I was a Russian teacher in upstate New York, and the weather was depressing, with rain and snow all the time. We — my husband Jim and our son Jeremy — came here on vacation during spring break in April of 1994, and we moved in July.

I was born in Moldova, and my family moved to Albany, New York, in 1976. After graduating from Albany High School, I went to the University at Albany (SUNY) and earned my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. Continue reading

Meghan Pearce: Founder of Pearce Family Foundation

Meghan Pearce, founder of Pearce Family Foundation, photographed at El Chorro in Paradise Valley, by Nicki Escudero

Meghan Pearce, founder of Pearce Family Foundation, photographed at El Chorro in Paradise Valley, by Nicki Escudero

Meghan Pearce
www.pearcefamilyfoundation.com

Meghan Pearce is a fifth-generation Arizona resident who wanted to make a difference in her community and keep her family legacy alive by helping others. In 2013, she founded the Pearce Family Foundation, an organization that donates to families with children suffering from a chronic or life-threatening illnesses. With her foundation, the 30-year-old Scottsdale resident raised more than $60,000 through events in year one alone and has granted out another $13,000 to families in need, helping them with everything from paying grocery and electric bills, to getting service dogs.

The Pearce Family Foundation sponsors the Runway of Hope fashion show Friday, May 8, with a DJ, nine boutiques (including Pepper) and designers showcasing their fashions, cocktails and an open bar, pop-up shops, a silent auction and hors d’oeuvres. The event takes place in the old Coors warehouse building at 475 E. Lincoln Street in Phoenix, and doors open at 7 p.m. Get tickets here.

Learn more about Pearce and where her passion for helping others comes from here, and keep reading to watch her name her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

I’m fifth-generation Arizonan. My family has been here since before it was even a state. I was born at Good Samaritan Hospital, went to high school at Desert Mountain, and went down to U of A and graduated with a degree in family studies. I moved back to the Valley after graduation. Continue reading

Lance Greathouse: Founder of Wheelchair Labs

Lance Greathouse, creator of Wheelchair Labs, photographed at his garage in Glendale, by Nicki Escudero

Lance Greathouse, founder of Wheelchair Labs, photographed at his studio in Glendale, by Nicki Escudero

Lance Greathouse
www.wheelchairlabs.org

Lance Greathouse wanted to make things better for his brother, Brent, who had been diagnosed with a rare form of Parkinson’s disease in 2000. After the disease left his brother immobile and in a wheelchair, Lance noticed how people would treat Brent differently, so he set out to create the coolest custom chair for his brother. In his new chair, people responded more positively Brent, and the idea for what would become Wheelchair Labs, a nonprofit organization donating custom wheelchairs to those in need, was born.

Although his brother lost his battle with Parkinson’s, Lance continues to fix up chairs and donate them to those in need. He also builds robots and elaborate tailgating grills, contraptions which have helped land him on television shows such as Robot Wars and BattleBots and have made him a standout annual Burning Man arts and music festival attendee.

The 54-year-old Glendale resident, who works as a dental field service engineer by day, hopes to one day make building custom wheelchairs his full-time job. Greathouse has never been paid a salary for his custom creations, and he’s donated 20 chairs in the past year and is always in need of more donations to help others. Learn about how he got into building custom wheelchairs below, and keep scrolling to hear him name his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

I’m a native, and my parents are also natives. I attended Alhambra High School, as did my father. I grew up watching (TV show) Wallace and Ladmo and having fun with friends and family at (amusement park) Legend City. I attended Arizona Technical Institute and earned a degree in electronics.

I’ll never leave Arizona. I can’t think of any other place I want to live. It has a little bit of everything — pines, lakes and desert — and I love it. Continue reading

Maggie McGrath: Founder of Pineapple Triangle Artist Market

Maggie McGrath, founder of Pineapple Triangle, photographed at Phoenix Public Market, by Nicki Escudero

Maggie McGrath, founder of Pineapple Triangle, photographed at Phoenix Public Market, by Nicki Escudero

Maggie McGrath
twitter.com/pineappletri

If you’re into local fashion and art, and love to support charity, Pineapple Triangle‘s AZ Share That You Care event provides the opportunity to get your fashionable art fix while supporting worthy causes. Founder Maggie McGrath, a wholesale sales rep for local clothing line Angie, started Pineapple Triangle to give local vendors more opportunities for exposure, while helping those in need, as each vendor donates at least 20 percent of their sales to the cause of their choice. The June event raised more than $1,300 for charities.

The next event, even larger than June’s with more than 50 vendors, takes place Saturday, October 18 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at The Icehouse in downtown Phoenix, with apparel, jewelry, beauty and home décor products from vendors including Be You Jewelry and Phoenix People features Strawberry Hedgehog and State Forty Eight. Admission is $5 cash, and visitors will be able to enjoy food from Buzznbeez food truck and music by 76th Street. Artists interested in participating can email hellopineappletriangle@gmail.com.

McGrath, a 29-year-old Ahwatukee resident, talked about her passion for fashion and for helping those in need, as well as named her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley, in a video below.

What brought you to Arizona?

I’ve pretty much lived here all my life, since I was 3 when my family moved here. I was born in Akron, Ohio. I went to Desert Vista High School and ASU, and got a B.A.S. degree in operations management and technology. I also have an Associate’s degree in fashion merchandising from Mesa Community College.

The main reason that keeps me here is all my siblings are here. I’m the youngest of four, so I really like being close to them. Continue reading

Pam Gaber: CEO of Gabriel’s Angels Pet Therapy Program

Pam Gaber, CEO of Gabriel's Angels, pet therapy for abused and at-risk children, photographed at her office in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Pam Gaber, CEO of Gabriel’s Angels, pet therapy for abused and at-risk children, photographed at her office in Phoenix with therapy dog Micah, by Nicki Escudero

Pam Gaber
twitter.com/GabrielsAngels

Pam Gaber just wanted to bring some light into the lives of at-risk children when she brought her dog, Gabriel, to visit the kids at Crisis Nursery in Phoenix while she was volunteering there back in 1999. His impact inspired her to start nonprofit Gabriel’s Angels, which connects therapy dogs with at-risk youth, going strong since 2000 and now serving 13,500 Valley kids a year. Gaber, a 57-year-old Scottsdale resident, ditched the corporate life to work full-time as CEO for Gabriel’s Angels, which now has 11 full-time employees and 175 therapy dog teams, as well as a therapy miniature horse, bunny and cat.

Gabriel’s Angels serves kids all over the state, from Tucson to Prescott, Sedona and Cottonwood, and is funded through individuals, corporate grants and events. The nonprofit hosts a breakfast at the Arizona Biltmore Friday, May 2, which is free to the public — find more information here. The organization is also partnering with Brad Jaffe, owner of Dogological dog teaching program, for his crowdfunding campaign for an upcoming dog training DVD — donate to the campaign, and a portion of the funds raised go toward Gabriel’s Angels.

Gaber, also the author of a memoir, Gabriel’s Angels: The Story of the Dog Who Inspired a Revolution, talked about how her passion for helping has turned into a new career. Scroll down to watch a video of her talking about her favorite reasons for living in the Valley, too.

What brought you to Arizona?

My corporate career. I was working for a pharmaceutical company in Florida before moving to Dallas, and then I was moved to Phoenix in 1989. I was born in New Jersey and grew up on the West coast of Florida. Continue reading

Ron Haberle: PeppedUp! Founder, Cancer Survivor

Ron Haberle, PeppedUp! founder and cancer survivor, photographed at Dos Gringos in Scottsdale, by Nicki Escudero

Ron Haberle, PeppedUp! founder and cancer survivor, photographed at Dos Gringos in Scottsdale, by Nicki Escudero

Ron Haberle
twitter.com/PeppedUp

Ron Haberle has been cancer-free for the past 17 years, but his battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma when he was diagnosed at 19 still inspires him today. Haberle has created a local nonprofit called PeppedUp! that brings fun technology, such as gaming systems and tablets, to kids who have cancer. For almost the past 2 years, PeppedUp! has helped deliver gadgets such as iPad‘s and PlayStation Vita‘s to kids all over the country, and last year, PeppedUp! raised more than $45,000 to give kids the opportunity to play something fun during a challenging time. Haberle, a 38-year-old Chandler resident and Woodbury, New Jersey native, works as a senior software developer for iMemories during the day and has donated more than $15,000 of his own money to the PeppedUp! cause. Head to the Dos Gringos Cinco de Mayo block party in Old Town Scottsdale Sunday, May 5, since proceeds are benefiting PeppedUp! Read on to hear more about the nonprofit, as well as to see a video of Haberle talking about his five favorite things about the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

An ex-girlfriend. I always wanted to move to California, and when I was younger, I said I would move to the West Coast if I could. My fiancee at the time wanted to go into graduate school, and her second school on the list was ASU. We didn’t wind up together, but I like the West Coast lifestyle more than the East Coast lifestyle. I was born in Woodbury, New Jersey. The people here are a lot more laid-back. The weather’s nicer. I love the scenery, the open skies. Continue reading