Recently, local artist and educator Bryant Martinez was honored by The Home Depot Foundation for his work with children and migrant families. The honor came as a result of a nomination by Debi Dolobach, customer order specialist for The Home Depot store #6380 in Riverview (at the intersection of Bloomingdale Ave. and U.S. Hwy. 301).
Martinez was nominated by Dolobach for a grant through The Home Depot Foundation’s Operation Surprise. A grant of $1,000 was donated to Winthrop Arts in Martinez’s name.
This year, Operation Surprise was reimagined due to COVID-19. It was awarded to veterans, first responders, healthcare workers and teachers. The campaign celebrates the selfless spirit of those who serve.
Martinez served as a Navy corpsman with the 2nd United States Marines from 1990 to 1994. He was honorably discharged in 1997. A Navy corpsman is an enlisted medical specialist of the United States Navy who may also serve in a United States Marine Corps Unit.
Martinez has worked as an educator since 1999. He is currently the welding instructor for Pepin Academy and is the lead art instructor for Winthrop Arts and the Winthrop Arts Mobile Art Factory. In his spare time, he works tirelessly to collect items, especially during the holidays, to give to migrant families who live in Wimauma and Plant City.
Dolobach, a long-time employee of The Home Depot, has known Martinez for over 10 years and assisted in donations for area schools, the underserved and organizations such as Winthrop Arts.
Dolobach said of Martinez, “I cannot believe all he does for people who live in Wimauma and Plant City.”
Martinez’s giving program began several years ago and his passion was ignited because migrant families often do not have proper identification, so they are ineligible for programs such as Toys for Tots. He started collecting gifts during the holidays and now dresses up as Santa every year to give out the gifts.
Gina Scrievers, manager of The Home Depot store #6380, said, “We are grateful to share this grant with you.”
Martinez said, “Debi is among a small group of people who believed in what I was doing. She has been a great advocate and has helped me and countless others over the years.”
Martinez added, “This shows that one person can truly make a difference.”
The grant will be allocated to funding the Winthrop Arts Mobile Art Factory program, which provides free arts instruction to underserved children through partners such as Hispanic Services Council and Achieve Plant City.