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Inspiring Stories from Surprise

The heart of our mission at VoyagePhoenix is to find the amazing souls that breathe life into our city. In the recent weeks, we’ve had the privilege to connect with some of the Greater Phoenix area’s finest artists, creatives, entrepreneurs and rabble rousers and we can’t begin to express how impressed we are with our city’s incredibly deep talent pool. Check out inspiring stories from Surprise and surrounding areas below.

Chris von Nieda

Hi, my name is Chris von Nieda, I’m the founder of WPsitehelpers and a United States Marine Corp. Veteran. I currently live in Arizona with my wife and kids. In 1998 I saw the Internet for the first time. It CHANGED my life. I was working as a loan officer for a mortgage company in California and I got an email with a link in it to the Internet. Read more>>

Heather Monthie

In 1997, I earned my pilot certificate and was so excited to be a part of this new world of aviation. I wanted to just immerse myself in it fully, which of course meant wearing some fun aviation fashion. Only I found that there wasn’t much out there for female pilots. Mostly items for wives of pilots! Read more>>

JJ Bukowski

Ever since I was a little kid I’ve wanted to work in the motion picture business. No other medium in the world combines the art of storytelling with the science of technology in such a unique way. My mom told me it was hard to get a picture of me as a kid because I would always leave the shot and walk up to the camera, trying to take it. Read more>>

Greg McGrew

It all started from seeing my sons love for dinosaurs. Seeing it gave me a vision of bringing the dinosaur theme to life for thousands of little children. Approximately 3 years ago I started building our first mobile dinosaur cage and our first mechanical dinosaur suite. Read more>>

Benjamin Smith, Marina Portillo

Fine Fittings is a family company which started with Benjamin Smith and his 1st wife, Ilana Smith, and Ilana’s mother Pamela Brown. Its humble beginnings started as an effort to provide breast prosthetics to patients at the Mayo Clinic Breast cancer center who were not a candidate for breast reconstruction. Read more>>

Avina Pham, Kevin Nguyen

Hello. My name is Avina and my family and I have been in the restaurant industry in the Valley of the Sun since 1990. My parents started Avina’s Vietnamese Cuisine in 1990, located on 43d Ave & Bell Rd, and they specialized in southern Vietnamese cuisine. We operated Avina’s Vietnamese Cuisine from 1990-2006, when we sold the store. Read more>>

Alfredo and Angel Barajas

Alfredo started to work at the age of 10 in Michoacan, Mexico, where he and his 7 younger brothers and sisters were born. Driven by his love of soccer and his dream to rebuild his family’s home, he decided to leave behind his birthplace to go into the unknown, aware that it would be the only way to better his life and that of his loved ones. Read more>>

Patricia Mee, Dale Mee

My husband Dale’s passion to drive began as a young boy in CA. He began learning to drive at the age of 16 working at Knottsberry Farm on the their Stagecoaches. He moved to Arizona in 1985 where we meet and married. Read more>>

Jill McLaughlin

My love and appreciation for animals began as a little girl and led me to pursue an animal related career. I attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and double majored in Biological Aspects of Conservation and Zoology. Read more>>

Loren Green

From the time I was little playing with Legos and Lincoln logs I always wanted to design buildings. When I was in 1st grade a drawing I did at school got a blue ribbon at the county fair. Horses were my favorite thing to draw. As I got older I got addicted to computers. Lucky for me cad programs have come along at the right time. Read more>>

Reg McCormick

A retired barber and a cancer survivor I was looking for a new interest and thought I would try gourds. After my first class my wife told me that this is definitely your calling. I loved to carve and so I just started experimenting and found myself entering competition in the annual Running Of The Gourds event in Casa Grande. The other artists encouraged me and I was winning ribbons from my very first entry and finally reached the top level of Grand Master for 2012 through 2015. Read more>>

Guillaume Plisson

I began working as a press photographer in 1999, and since 2007 I’ve focused on a research which name is Lightgraff. The same year, I did the first book dedicated to this art which was published in France. Lightgraff is the art of painting with lights. Since a few years, the name “light painting” is used. Read more>>

Jill Pogrant

I worked in corporate america for 20 years. I decided to go out on my own and run the business through my home. However, I didn’t want to meet people in my home or go to theirs. Starbuck’s was to loud and the library was to quiet. I met my current business partner, Shelley Bade, at a networking event she was sponsoring. Read more>>

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