By Kate Quesada
Before Bonnie Karet, founder of FishHawk’s Art Monkey Art Studio, handed the keys of her business to new owners last month, she impacted four of her long-time employees and many children on the other side of the world.
Karet, who opened Art Monkey in FishHawk’s Park Square in 2011, sold the business to local residents Liisa and Eric Soncrant when she and her family relocated to the east coast of Florida. But in an effort to show her appreciation for four of her stand-out employees, she gifted each of them with a $500 scholarship for college.
“Employees are one of the most special things about owning and business
and these employees deserve extra special recognition,” said Karet, who explained that the four students ran Art Monkey for her when she took six months away to hike the Appalachian Trail. “I received not one single complaint when I was gone, despite there being so much to do. They showed a maturity, dedication and work ethic that I needed to
The four students who received the scholarships are Sydney Forsythe, who is graduating from high school in the spring, Rachel Patten who attends the University of Florida, Mackenzie Karet who attends Florida State University and Ian Roach who currently attends Hillsborough Community College.
Throughout her time with Art Monkey, Karet worked hard to change the lives of other children by using the store to raise funds for the Big Big World Project, an organization that supplies direct support for children living in a Vietnam orphanage. In October, during Karet’s last week at Art Monkey, she organized a halloween party which raised much
needed funds for the project. The event raised more than $2,000 through games, a raffle and food sales, to which Karet added $1,000 from Art Monkey.
Karen, who started the Big Big World Project with a friend, travels regularly to Vietnam to see the
children helped by funds raised at the store.
“Our goal is to treat these children as a parent would,” she said. “Without help, 80 to 90 percent of these children end up in human trafficking.”
For more information on the Big Big World Project, visit www.bigbigworld.org.
“Knowing we have impacting so many children means that I can leave Art Monkey with a happy heart,” said Karet. “We have done good work in FishHawk.”Art Monkey is located at 16144 Churchview Dr. in FishHawk’s Park Square. For more information, call 315-9803 or visit www.artandicecream.com.