Photo credit, Stephanie Perez
By Lauren Wong

Thanksgiving means it’s the season of gratitude, a time to reflect and look back at all the wonderful things you have to be thankful for. I’m grateful to have met the amount of people I have during my year living in Arizona. 

That being said, I took the chance to reach back out to some of those I’ve gotten to know through different stories to ask them what they’re most grateful for this year. 

Here’s the responses I got.

Lee Call:

About: Local NBi author/illustrator of The Angel Room and Good Thing He’s Dead. Signed copies of her books are available at Brick Road Coffee in Tempe.

Lee Call 1

“I’m grateful for the community I’ve found in my hometown this year. I never felt like I really belonged here, even though I grew up here. But finding a community that has really accepted and shown love to the real me has been life-changing.”

Dylan Capshaw:

About: Dylan Capshaw was only 15 years old when he started Stemistry in Scottsdale. With his two passions, flowers and coffee, he’s created this unique atmosphere where you can enjoy a cup of coffee while creating your very own bouquet.

Previously Featured in: Some of the Valley’s Most Unique Coffee Shops

Dylan Capshaw
photo credit, Franklin Photography

“I’m thankful for the wonderful Arizona community and every single customer that has supported Stemistry in our journey. Without everyone’s support we would be in a much different place!”

Mara Friedman:

About: After deciding she needed a fun hobby to take up, Mara got into ceramics. Taking class after class, she came to realize that instead of going to classes she wanted an open studio to just be able to connect with people that have the same passion. Located in Phoenix, Pip Coffee + Clay offers open studio times, classes, workshops, food and drinks!

Previously Featured in: Some of the Valley’s Most Unique Coffee Shops


“I had a conversation with an old friend recently. We were talking about what he’s doing, what I’m doing, and whether or not we’re happy with it.  I realized that—maybe for the first time in my life—I’m truly happy at work. It’s weird, too, because the things that are making me happy are not the things I thought I wanted.  If you had asked me what I needed before we opened Pip, I would have told you that I just wanted the freedom to make ceramics and be creative. Turns out I was wrong. What I really needed was interesting people to be with and interesting problems to solve. Pip has provided both, and for that, I’m infinitely grateful.”

Stephanie Perez:

About: Based out of Los Angeles, 27 year old Stephanie Perez is a travel blogger and content creator who loves to share new places, adventures, and destinations with others.

Stephanie perez3

“I am most grateful this Thanksgiving for a warm home to come home to every night. I feel truly blessed.”

Eric Stoen:

About: Named the World’s #4 Most Influential Traveler by Forbes, Stoen’s Instagram @travelbabbo has over 340k followers. He’s been named as the World’s Best Family Traveler by Fodor’s and is an ambassador for Unbound Merino, G1G, and AFAR.

Previously Featured in: Must Follow Travel Influencers


“I’m grateful that schools finally seem to be 100% back to normal, with no masks or virus testing and with all socials, activities and class trips happening. The past couple years weren’t fun.”

Gabrielle Stone:

About: An author, actress, dancer, and director, Gabrielle Stone’s best-selling book Eat, Pray, #FML is an insight into who she is. Diving into her divorce after finding out her husband was having an affair, she set off on a trip that would change her and ultimately help her find herself. She now has a sequel, The Ridiculous Misadventures of a Single Girl, and hosts the official Eat, Pray, #FML Podcast.

Previously Featured in: Must Follow Travel Influencers

Gabrielle Stone2

“I am most grateful for my health this Thanksgiving. I’m currently watching people in my life have their health taken away from them and it has quickly reminded me that not much matters without that at the core.”

Lauren Topor:

About: Arizona-based author, Lauren Topor Reichert, along with illustrator Isabel Topor, published Sprinkle the Dog, a children’s book in March of 2022. Coinciding with National Disability Awareness Month, the book sends out a positive message about “resilience, inclusivity, and finding the ability within disability.”

Sprinkle the Dog Holiday 1
Lauren and Karma Sprinkle the Dog

“This Thanksgiving, I am most grateful for my health, family, and friends.”

Karissa Yu:

About: From Chicago, IL Karissa has followed her passion for traveling. After graduating from the University of Tampa in 2020 she moved to Hawaii, and now resides in Australia. 

Previously Featured in: Must Follow Travel Influencers


“I am most grateful for the people in my life and the support they give me.”

About: Living by the motto “No One Ever Gets Left Behind,” this non-profit organization works to spread love and make the world a more caring and inspiring place.

Previously Featured in: Thanksgiving in the Southwest


“I am grateful for having a family and amazing volunteers to celebrate the holidays with, especially by giving back to our local community of Los Angeles with Lost Angels Non-Profit Organization.”