Meet the Real Women of Chandler 3

They’re Fierce, They’re Smart, They’re Inspiring—And They’re Right in Our Neighborhood

When planning our May Women’s issue, I wanted to find a way to focus on some of the wonderful ladies of Chandler. So many are impressive, inspiring, innovative, creative, selfless, determined … I could go on forever! Let’s just say, I knew I would have a lot of material to work with so the idea for a feature on the Real Women of Chandler was off and running!

We started by seeking nominations through the magazine, social media and word-of-mouth. The nominating criteria were intentionally loose because we were looking for women from a broad cross-section of our community. We were absolutely overwhelmed when over 100 wonderful women of Chandler were nominated! Children, husbands, boyfriends, friends, city officials, bosses, co-workers, neighbors, silent admirers—nominations came in from everywhere!

As the Publisher, I quickly realized I needed to remove myself from the selection process so an Editorial Selection Committee was created. Nine categories were created: Community, Charity, Philanthropy, Animal Advocacy, Public Service, Educator, First Responder, Public Service, Inspiring Moms and Local Business Giving Back. All nominees were asked to complete a questionnaire and the committee did their due diligence on reviewing the submissions and researching all of the semi-finalists. I can assure you the selection process was no easy task and there was much debate and consternation.

As it turns out, we could not be more proud to introduce you to 14 incredible women who contribute to our great community in so many different ways—and it’s easy to notice a common thread in their advice to our readers. Find a cause dear to your heart, jump in, give what you can and just do it! The rewards are endless.

I hope you find these women as inspiring as I do!

—Joyce Selk

Terri Kimble – Community

President/CEO, Chandler Chamber of Commerce

Terri Kimble has worked in the Chamber of Commerce industry for 26 years and since joining the Chandler Chamber six years ago, she has helped to double its size. She has found a passion as a dedicated advocate for business growth and development in the East Valley. Her strengths include listening to ideas from all sources, creating alliances and bringing people together for the common good.

In addition to her efforts with the chamber, Kimble has sat on over 16 boards in Arizona, serves on the Woman’s Council at her church in Chandler and volunteers countless hours to many organizations, including the Phoenix Dream Center, CUSD and the Exchange Club of Chandler. She and her husband, George, pack and deliver meals for the homeless and even have coined a phrase, “Make a Difference Monday,” to encourage their friends and acquaintances to help people in need.

“The most rewarding part of my job is simply helping businesses,” Kimble says. “We have business retention and expansion visits that we host with the city. We make visits to Chandler companies, thanking them for doing business here and asking what can we do to assist them in growing or expanding. These visits are amazing and it is very rewarding to make a positive impact in identifying their needs and making the connections to grow. Whether it is our Business Mentoring Programs, Leadership Institute, Community Awards or the Ostrich Festival, Chandler is a diverse place to do business.”

What advice do you have for those thinking of getting involved in their community or giving back?

Just do it! The rewards are far bigger than you’ll ever imagine. There are so many great causes and ways to contribute to the community. Go to the Chandler Chamber website, click on the “Chamber for Good” button and start making a difference!

Describe the Chandler community in three words.

Innovative, educational, amazing!

ChandlerChamber.com

—MTE

Debbie Grammer and Niomee Baker – Community

Founder/Admins, Ocotillo Friends

Today, Chandler has many choices when it comes to social media platforms that help the community stay informed and connected but back in March 2013, Debbie Grammer started the first when she launched a Facebook group called Ocotillo Friends (OF).

“We started out wanting a way for friends and neighbors to stay connected but very quickly we had a huge following and it just seemed to grow overnight,” she says. “We knew we were truly filling a need. I knew I needed help and Niomee Baker was the perfect fit!”

With almost 18,000 members, OF is an innovative Facebook group specifically for Chandler residents and businesses.

“We have grown organically through word-of-mouth and referrals,” says Grammer and Baker. “We only want members who truly want to be part of our community. It has always been our goal to bring together residents and businesses of Chandler so they can work together to promote, protect and strengthen the local neighborhoods and economy.”

“Whether you are new to Chandler or have lived here your whole life, OF helps Chandler maintain that small-town feel,” Baker says.

The group now has its own website, an OF Buy/Sell Facebook page and a local business directory.

“The business directory is a great source of information for those seeking reputable local referrals. It helps businesses succeed by allowing them to advertise, sponsor giveaways and enjoy the benefits of happy customers who refer them,” they say.

What is the most rewarding part of being able to give back?

Being able to organize, sponsor and support our OF community so we can help organizations and neighbors who really need some help. If someone comes to us with a need, we work hard to come up with a solution. Once we let the OF members know, they are on it! It really is rewarding to help everything come together and it is why we organized a 501(c)(3) for charitable giving.

What advice do you have for those thinking of getting involved in giving back?

If you act out of genuine desire to do things for the right reason and don’t allow those acts to become self-serving, the rewards are endless. 
OcotilloFriends.com
 —MTE

Caryn Shoemaker – Charity

Founder of One Small Step and Clothes Cabin 

Years ago, Caryn Shoemaker was inspired by a child in an orange grove who needed a pair of socks. Her church was giving clothing to migrant workers and their families when she saw a barefoot child hugging his mom’s leg while putting one foot on top of the other, trying to keep warm.

“I knew we had some socks on the table at home, so I got a pair and went looking for that boy. I knelt down to pull the socks over his feet but they were men’s socks that came up to his thighs. He just laughed!” says Shoemaker.

Quickly realizing how simple it is to make someone’s life better, she founded One Small Step in 2001. During the next eight years, OSS gave away 160,000 pairs of socks to local agencies. In 2008, they expanded by creating the Clothes Cabin, which takes in donations and keeps what is usable within the Chandler community. Clients get to “shop” in a clean, well-organized store and everyone is treated with a high level of respect. Clothes Cabin now helps nearly 2,000 local families annually.

“More than half of the clients are children, trapped in poverty and dependent upon us to give them new and like-new clothing and shoes,” Shoemaker says.

Clothes Cabin also provides free laundry services, storage lockers and mailboxes for its homeless clients.

“We are particularly proud to help men in the community get new, steel-toed work boots so they can get a job,” says Shoemaker.

What advice do you have for those thinking of getting involved in their community or giving back?

Don’t wait. The smallest good deed is better than the grandest intention!

What is the next step or goal for you?

We do a great job where we are, but we’re squashed. I’d love to have our own facility with room to grow the mission.

What is the most rewarding part of what you do?

Seeing how such a simple thing as clothing can change a person’s attitude, appearance, sociability, hygiene and opportunities. Clean clothes do make a difference!

ClothesCabin.org

—MG

Trinity Donovan – Charity

CEO Chandler Christian Community Center/Former Chandler City Council

A Chandler resident since age 8, Trinity Donovan built her life through service and is motivated to continue making the community a better place for future generations. It was her community of friends, family and church who instilled the importance of serving others. Her life of giving began as a child when she served food at St. Vincent de Paul. As a teen, she served meals weekly to migrant workers. As an adult, she served for eight years on the Chandler City Council, as well as many various boards and committees throughout the Valley.

Perhaps her biggest act of service is as the CEO of Chandler Christian Community Center (CCCC). The organization assisted over 17,000 individuals last year and just celebrated its 50th anniversary. When Donovan started with CCCC in 2009, the food bank had three employees and 200 volunteers. Today, it’s a multiservice organization offering food boxes, senior meals, emergency assistance and family learning. They now have 35 employees and more than 1,000 volunteers.

What motivates you to continue this work?

I’m motivated by the amazing people in our community who come together to have a greater impact than anyone could have alone. Also by the CCCC volunteers who served more than 34,000 hours last year to help others. I’m motivated by the people I meet at CCCC who overcome extraordinary circumstances to move from crisis to stability.

How do you balance work, community and a personal life?

I’m able to balance my work, community projects and family because I enjoy what I do. I have a great support system through my faith, husband and parents who help me balance all the important activities.

What is the most challenging or frustrating part of what you are trying to accomplish?

We see so much need and there is more to do. While the economy has improved, those hit hardest haven’t seen the same improvements.

Describe the Chandler community in three words.

People who care.

ChandlerFoodBank.org

—MG

Lisa Cvijanovich – Philanthropist

Owner, Porsche Chandler, Subaru Superstore Chandler/Surprise, Volvo Cars Tempe, Autobahn Collision

Lisa Cvijanovich’s story begins like most great adventures; with one small step. Years ago, she mentored a young girl through Big Brothers/Big Sisters and learned she could make a difference working one-on-one with children. She carried this experience with her and remembered it when she had her own son.

“The most personal impact I’ve made was simply working hard every day as a volunteer with CUSD while our son was in elementary school,” she says. “It was an awesome time to team up with other committed, hard-working parents while supporting our teachers and students.”

One small step turned into many, and now her impact can be felt throughout the community. Teaming up with Subaru, Lisa and her husband, Richard, have contributed more than $250,000 to organizations serving children, such as the Chandler Education Foundation, the Chandler Unified School District and Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation. Their dealerships also participate in charitable giving through the Subaru Love Promise program.

Cvijanovich especially enjoys supporting the foster teens interested in automotive careers by employing them through the AFFCF’s Keys To Success program, which assists teens to successfully transition from the foster care system to independent living.

“Helping kids find their joy and passion is the best part of giving back. I’m motivated by the potential I see in children and believe it’s important we support them and expose them to opportunity so that they can succeed,” she says.

How do you balance work, community and a personal life?

I find balance by including friends and family in the charity work I do, so I can enjoy their company while paying it forward. I also hope to inspire our son to contribute, too.

What is your favorite quote or saying?

“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a room with a mosquito!”

—MG

Shannon Powell – Local Business Giving Back

Founder/Director of TotSpot Preschool

With a degree in education, Shannon Powell started her preschool out of her home in 2008 when she couldn’t find a school for her daughter that met her qualifications. That was nine years ago and the school continues to grow at its two locations. Powell is passionate about early child development and teaching her students a love for learning.

This mother of five has two children with special needs and she supports and finds the causes of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Power Paws (emotional support dogs for children with special needs) close to her heart. Powell is also a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for small children in Arizona’s foster care system. With over 18,000 foster children in the state, she hopes to bring more awareness to Arizona’s desperate need for more CASA volunteers.

As founder of TotSpot Preschool, Powell utilizes her preschool community to help give back to the larger community they reside in. The preschool has raised money for many causes, including scholarships for families who financially wouldn’t be able to enroll their child, help with expenses for one of their teachers who was undergoing cancer treatments and making donations to the local Children’s Crisis Center.

How do you balance work, community and your personal life?

I am deliberate in making sure all aspects of my life are balanced. I surround myself with great administrators and generous, hard-working parents who volunteer to help with the school and its activities. Not to mention my supportive husband, Jeremy, who especially helps with our five children!

What advice would you give those thinking of getting involved in the community?

Not to wait to get started. Nothing is more rewarding than helping someone. If you are going through a tough time, put it aside and go help someone else. Discover the peace and joy of serving.

Favorite quote?

“One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” —John F. Kennedy

TotSpotPreschool.com

AZCourts.gov/casa/volunteer

—KB