Mary & Martha House Executive Director Laurie Herring passed away in September. Last month, a shelter was named after her.

The ShoreShore community lost one of its most impactful citizens in September when Laurie Herring, executive director of the Mary & Martha House in Ruskin, passed away. But the staff and board of directors have made sure that Herring’s name will live on in the place where she changed the lives of hundreds of women.

Last month, one of the shelters Mary & Martha House uses to house women and their children fleeing domestic violence was named Laurie’s Magnolia House in her honor.

According to Bill Chini, who stepped up as Mary & Martha’s executive director, the decision to name the shelter after Herring was left up to the staff.

“Laurie created the name Magnolia House, much from her love of flowers, naming all the rooms in the house after different flowers,” said Chini. “That is Laurie’s house. That shelter would have never happened if it wasn’t for Laurie. She built that house. It’s her house, and now everyone will know that, forever.”

Herring, a Riverview resident, was 56 years old when she passed away on September 15. She touched many lives during her time at Mary & Martha House, where she aided women in becoming self-sufficient after escaping domestic violence.

“Next to the word ‘impact’ in the dictionary is a picture of Laurie,” said Chini. “She impacted everything she touched.”

But Chini feels that the biggest impact she made was on the lives that she changed, from the women and children she helped to those she inspired to help others.

“She changed the lives of so many,” he said. “It’s nice to hear that, but actually think about that, think about actually changing someone’s life. It’s a very overwhelming thought, but something Laurie did on a regular basis. People like Laurie can’t be duplicated, we can only be thankful for the time we were able to learn from her and do our best to carry on her legacy.”

As a way to continue Herring’s legacy, Mary & Martha House Fashion and Home Goods Store will host a retail sale event and market on the second Saturday of each month, starting from December 11 through April, in cooperation with Jen’s Market. The market will take place from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at the store, which is located at 312 S. U.S. Hwy. 41 in Ruskin.

“We are super excited to be partnering with Jen and her huge following,” said Chini. “She always brings something special to her markets. I think the exposure for our store will be critical moving forward for our mission at Mary & Martha House.”

To learn more about Mary & Martha House, call 645-7874 or visit

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Assignment Editor Kate Quesada started working at the Osprey Observer in 2004 after graduating from the University of South Florida with a masters degree in Mass Communications. Since then, she has held various positions at the paper and has been working as the assignment editor since January 2020. She lives in Lithia with her husband Mike and sons Dylan and Max and stays active in the community on school PTA boards and volunteering with local organizations.