I’ll never forget the day I met Carmella. It was at a NAWBO neighborhood lunch in Scottsdale, at the Macaroni Grill.  She got up to make an announcement with her blonde curly hair, wearing fabulous shoes and a chunky, colorful necklace.  She spoke with a thick New York Italian accent…full of life, joy, and smiles.  You could tell, she’s the one with a lot of stories to tell…someone you wanted to spend time with at a party, sharing pastimes and adventures.  You couldn’t help but be attracted to her energy and her warmth.  Then, on top of it, she was a chef!! How could you not bond over food and the intricacies of flavors and palettes.  We talked about risotto, the importance of lemon and garlic, and other favorite dishes. We immediately hit it off! Age didn’t matter, we instantly became friends.  Not only that, we found out that we both had lived in Pago Pago, American Samoa!! I’m always amazed by the connections of people I have made in Phoenix that criss-crossed past lives, but this one really took the cake.  Very few people have ever been to Pago Pago, and we had just missed each other. Diego (my husband) and I had arrived there in the summer of 2002, and she had just left. We shared stories over our crazy experiences there and those islands around there.

That was over 2 yrs ago, when I started my journey of creating a workspace for women. Over the past 2 yrs, Carmella and I would chat about building a community for women, a space to just be, truly collaborate, a place to work and to play, with workshops and events, especially circled around breaking bread together.  A place to go to when you just needed support after a setback and a place to celebrate each other’s successes. That’s what we were all hungry for, searching for, dreaming for.  So, when I finally walked into the building July 4th weekend of 2017, I knew I found the place where we, as a community of women in Phoenix, can create that space.  Yes, it was technically an office building, but a building hidden from most people’s perspective and had an energy that went beyond the building.

So, of course, I had to tell Carmella once we announced the location, she had to come and see the building, see the vision of where this was going to start. I had plopped myself down in the café of building 2111 almost every single day until our space was finished, overseeing the process and giving tours. One of those tours was for Carmella.  I’ll never forget that day as well.  I saw her through the tall glass windows of the café approaching and I went out to greet her.  She was almost panicking. “Oh my God, Oh my God”…and I thought something dramatically wrong had just happened with her.  “What is it Carmella, what just happened?”.  She was having a hard time articulating the words.  “This place, this building…this is it”.  “What do you mean?”  We were still outside, facing the parking lot, we hadn’t even made it in.  Carmella, continued…”While I was driving here, I kept having déjà vu. I was on Camelback, I passed 30th, passed 24th, and then came down 21st…and something about the drive as I was counting down was bringing back memories.”  Then she remembered, many many years ago, someone had told her, almost in a vision, that she would have an oasis in the desert, it would be in Phoenix, and it would specifically be in this corridor. “Shatha, I was told that this was going to happen…I would have a space to create, a  place for the community, a place to flourish. There would be water, palm trees, art, music, love and laughter”.  At this point, I almost started breaking down.  I told her to follow me….

I took her through the building quickly to get to the other side, the back side that was hidden to everyone.  I took her to that Oasis in the desert.  I told her, here it is. And that is when she broke down crying, in heaves.  And I started crying too….because, this was the oasis.  A lake, with fountains, trees, ducks, turtles, geese all gathered together, hidden from the city and hidden from the limelight.  It wasn’t déjà vu, it was reality…and we are creating it together. We are bringing the art, the music, and most importantly the community, the support, and the love.  We are living in the language of possibilities and creating those possibilities, despite minor setbacks that might happen along the way.  All of this because we do believe in the oasis in the desert and we believe in creating the atmosphere for those to flourish with love and light.

You will see our lively Carmella in our space usually bringing something fresh from the oven and will be creating events not only for the women of our Hub, but also for the building, bringing companies and their employees and families together.  Her website is Carmella’s Savory Fare