Mary Jane Martinez has dedicated her life to children.
Even before her husband, former Gov. Bob Martinez, was elected to the state’s highest office, she was in the trenches helping students at King High School, serving as librarian for about 20 years.
When she became Florida’s First Lady in the 1980s, she turned her attention toward helping youngsters on a statewide level. She is credited with helping the state bolster its Florida Network of Youth and Family Services, the umbrella organization for an estimated 30 shelters and crisis centers. The nonprofit represents agencies that serve homeless, runaway and troubled teens ages 10 and up and their families, according to its website.
Hillsborough County Commissioners wanted to honor Mary Jane Martinez for her years of service to the children of Florida. With that in mind, they did just that during their Feb. 20 meeting by voting unanimously to name a new shelter for girls on the county’s Division of Children’s Services Lake Magdalene Campus in her honor.
“It is my honor and privilege to make a motion that this board consents to dedicating the recently constructed girls’ shelter in honor of Mrs. Mary Jane Martinez,” Chairman Ken Hagan said.
Hagan’s motion was applauded by Commissioner Kevin Beckner who said Mary Jane Martinez’s contributions to youth are impossible to calculate.
“What you have done to enrich the lives of (children), I don’t know that could ever be measured,” Beckner said.
Commissioners voted 7-0 to approve the naming of the building at 3191 Clay Magnum Lane in Martinez’s honor.
“Thank you for this great honor,” Mary Jane Martinez said. Both she and former Tampa Bay and Gov. Bob Martinez were in attendance at Wednesday’s meeting.
“Because of my 20 years teaching at the high school level, I felt the Florida Network was a perfect place for me to try and do some good,” Martinez explained of her efforts on behalf of troubled teens. “They have a 90 percent success rate. “We know that early intervention is the key to keeping our young people out of the juvenile court system.”
No date for the formal dedication has been set.
For more information about the Florida Network, visit its website.