Farmington business owner goes all out to raise cash for local charity

John R. Moses
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON – A Farmington businesswoman has made it her business to raise money for the Four Corners Home for Children to make sure they have plenty of food and gifts for the kids, and with one of her business’ clients has joined in arranging for the kids’ Christmas dinner.

Cabana Tans co-owner Connie Gramm Maestas filled part of the business’ parking lot with holiday-themed activities during her Cozy Cabana Christmas event Dec. 3 – including fire pits to help people make S’mores, and some hot chocolate to warm things up, plus visits from both Santa and the Grinch.

That fundraiser brought in more than $1,500.

Several agencies pitched in to make the event more festive.

Connie Maestas, the owner of Cabana Tans in Farmington, recently converted part of the Star Plaza parking lot into a holiday hotspot, complete with hot chocolate and s'mores, to raise money for the Four Corners Home for Children.

Members of the Farmington Fire Department showed up with The Grinch as attendees heard the music of local musician Jose Villarreal. Santa dropped in courtesy of the San Juan County Fire District 7 - Center Point.

At one point both Santa and Smokey the Bear greeted children. Smokey’s visit came via the Carson National Forest’s Jicarilla Ranger District.

The shop’s history of sponsoring charitable events didn’t go unnoticed.

A table inside Cabana Tans is loaded down with gift baskets that will be raffled to raise money for the Four Corners Home for Children, while below rests a fresh pile of donations to the home dropped off Friday by the Prime Time 4H organization.

“Over the past year Connie has done Easter, Halloween and Thanksgiving activities for the community,” said community member Dashelle Ricord, who wrote the Daily Times to make sure Maestas’ good deeds didn’t go unpublished. “For Easter she brought in the Easter Bunny for pictures and had fun and activities for the kids and received donations for the home for children.”

For Halloween, Maestas did a drive through trick or treat event, and she also raised donations toward the Thanksgiving dinner and some groceries for the children’s home.

Maestas said she learned of the children’s home from a customer, and she has supported other local charities and fundraising drives as well. An only child who lost her parents when she was 28, she said she lives by her mother’s words “the love in my heart wasn’t put there to stay.”

Maestas is far from her days as a member of a hotshot crew for the U.S. Forest Service. She worked her way up the ranks there, and later worked in an office with federal mine safety administrators. When she reached the right number of years she left federal service but jumped right into the business world. She bought the tanning business in September of 2020 along with business partner Tani Pollock, who had worked at the salon for years before becoming part owner.

Cabana Tans owners Tani Pollock and Connie Gramm Maestas stand among the the items in their Farmington business being sold or raffled to raise cash for the Four Corners Home for Children.

Pandemic shutdowns idled the business for a time shortly after the purchase. But the business survived, and Maestas said she’s making good on a promise she made to herself.

“God has been an amazing blessing for me,” she said. “…I decided when I made my career move I’d bless people.”

Charity grateful for the help

“We are overwhelmed by the generosity of Cabana Tans,” said Four Corners Home for Children President Annette Reich, who noted the home has many community supporters, but is unusual for one business owner to bring so many resources to the charity.

“She loves this community and she wants to help,” Reich said of Maestas.

The children’s home is still fundraising on its own to complete a building for emergency placements of children. Reich said the walls went up on Friday.

She said the recent Giving Tuesday event raised $30,000 for the home.

The annual Navajo Ministries living Nativity scene, what Reich called “our Christmas card to the community, “ takes place Dec. 22 from 6-8 p.m. just behind the children’s home and will feature live animals and singing.

Four Corners Home for Children’s website states that it is a nonprofit 501c (3) organization and receives no state, federal or tribal funds and relies on donations. It is located at 2103 West Main St. in Farmington, and can be reached at email@4ch4c.org or by calling 505-325-0255.