Q&A Maricopa Chamber of Commerce Award Winners

Photos by Volo, Courtesy Maricopa Chamber of Commerce

Sonny Dunn Citizen of the Year Award — Jennifer Connelly, owner/operator of 6th Day Farms and director of development at Maricopa Pantry

Q: How did you get involved with the Maricopa Pantry?

A: I began attending the food bank about five or six years ago as we had friends and family suddenly living with us. I started volunteering my time to give back to this amazing organization that was helping me, along with so many others. I am now the director of development — an unpaid volunteer position — for Maricopa Pantry, and I run the social media, help fundraise and anything else we need to accomplish to serve our community.

Q: What was your response to being named Citizen of the Year by the Chamber?

A: I am honored to have received an award named after such a revered member of our community. Sonny Dunn made an amazing impact on so many people. I feel this is an award for our entire community; without God and every single one of us who helps give or receive our blessings, none of this would be possible.

Chairman’s Award —
Antonia Presume, owner of Joia Gift Baskets

Q: When and how did your business start out in Maricopa?

A: I started the business for my daughter. She was doing a drama workshop, and they had invited her to go to New York City. They said, “You guys can do some fundraisers to help with expenses.” So I started making baskets, and it went so well when I started doing them for fundraising that I said maybe I should do a business because people were calling me and asking how much they were. And so I registered my business at City Hall.

Q: When and why did your business join the Chamber?

A: I went to the Chamber and I joined because I wanted to be around the business community. I’ve lived in Maricopa for about 15 years, but I’m a big homebody so I didn’t really know a lot of people. I joined the Chamber, and I got very active within the chamber; I went to all the events. This year I got on the board, and for the last couple of years, I’ve been on the ambassador committee and chaired it.

Best Big Business — Karsten’s Maricopa ACE Hardware (Manager William Gonzalez)

Q: When and how did your business start out in Maricopa?

A: 2007 is when Maricopa ACE hardware opened up. And then February 2020 is when the Karstens came in and turned it into Karsten’s ACE Hardware. I’ve been working here since 2013.

Q: What does getting involved in the community mean for your business?

A: We’ve always been active in the Chamber, and we sponsor a lot of events. We have the Girl Scouts here every year and the veterans, too. We always have the Cub Scouts with the Girl Scouts or I’ve got the veterans out front and set up a booth for them to do donations for the poppies or for the flags or raffles. All of those are welcome.

We also let our customers donate to Phoenix Children’s Hospital through the Children’s Miracle Network by rounding up their bills to the nearest dollar. That helps support the approximately 400 kids from Maricopa who need to go there every year.