Bill Chini has big plans for Mary & Martha House (MMH). Chini, who has been on the board of the organization that provides shelter and services to victims of domestic violence and homeless women and their children since 2018, recently took over as executive director.
Born in South New Jersey, Chini enlisted in the Air Force after high school and served at MacDill AFB in Tampa. Post-military, he worked in hospitality, eventually becoming the general manager of Little Harbor Resort in Ruskin.
Former MMH Executive Director Laurie Herring, who passed away last year, encouraged Chini to join the board.
“I had no idea what that meant and was a little reluctant at first, but I knew what the organization did and wanted to be a part of it,” he said. “I have close family members who suffered through domestic violence when I was a child. During my time in New York, I was homeless for a short while. Knowing about this place that assisted people affected by two issues I witnessed/lived through my life, this was a chance to help others.”
Chini stepped up when Herring got sick but never thought he would permanently take the role.
“I hate telling the story of how I became executive director because to me it’s a sad story,” he said.
Chini credited the team Herring built with the success of the charity.
“In my mind, the staff was committed to doing the very best they could to continue to help others in need, and to keep Laurie’s legacy alive,” he said.
MMH looks at those in need differently than most.
“MMH is guidance,” he said. “Society is very quick to expect everyone to know what to do and are even quicker to throw them away instead of taking the time to help them. We don’t do that here. We help with the obstacles, we help with the baggage, we help women and children get back on the path to success. Our future is going to be a bright one, for both our survivors and our organization.”
Chini’s goal, as MMH celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, is to be able to help more people, with the idea of including a larger thrift store, more housing and more on-site support services for families.
“It’s going to take a lot of planning, work and capital. One thing I’ve learned from working in this operation more closely is the unwavering support from our community,” he explained. “The big plans we have can look scary at times; however, I’m confident we can accomplish anything with the support of our community; they always have our back.”
To learn more, visit https://marymarthahouse.org.