Juanita Lolita will be the emcee at Mary & Martha House’s 40th anniversary gala in June.

On Friday, June 10, Mary & Martha House is celebrating 40 years of positively impacting the lives of women and children with a gala fundraising event.

The nonprofit, tax-exempt corporation was founded in 1982 and has been helping Hillsborough County women and children escape domestic violence and homelessness ever since.

According to Executive Director Bill Chini, the event, with its ‘Time to Bloom’ theme, will be extra special this year.

“We feel that both our clients and our organization are ready to do bigger and better things,” said Chini.

The event will begin with an open bar cocktail hour, but just before dinner, Chini has a meaningful celebration planned.

“We are going to have a butterfly release outside in memory of Laurie Herring,” he explained.

Herring, the organization’s former executive director, passed away in 2021.

The emcee for the event will be Juanita Lolita, who will also be performing a comedy bit.

“Our dancers are returning this year—Darlene and Takiyah Johnson, a mother and daughter who stayed at our shelter a year or so ago—to perform another beautiful interpretive dance routine,” said Chini.

In addition, for the first time, the event will include the presentation of three awards.

“The Mary & Martha House Thrive Award will be given to a past client that has used their second chance at independence to the fullest,” said Chini. “Mary & Martha House Philanthropic Award will be given to a business or individual who has done so much to give back to our organization. Lastly, and my personal favorite award, is the Laurie Herring Legacy Award. This award will be given to a community member who is making the world a better place, because that’s what Laurie did.”

After the program, Chini explained that the dance floor will open and music will be presented by a DJ. There will also be a silent auction with items to bid on ranging from fun activities to jewelry and sports memorabilia.

The event will take place at The Regent, which is located at 6437 Watson Rd. in Riverview.

Sponsorship opportunities, which start at $500, are still available. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.marymarthahouse.org or call 813-645-7874.

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Kate Quesada
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.