TEMPLE TERRACE – Throughout the community and beyond, Maryrose Owens is known as a doer, always putting other people’s needs above her own.
Connie Smith, a fellow member of the Temple Terrace Woman’s Club, calls her a “dynamo.”
“The one thing about Maryrose is that when she asks me to do something I say, ‘yes,’ because how can you say ‘no’ to Maryrose,” said Smith. She noted that Owens’ volunteer efforts go well beyond those of anyone else she knows.
Club president Elaine Coniglio describes Owens as a woman whose actions speak volumes about her extraordinarily caring heart.
“She’s a real winner both on the inside and outside,” Coniglio said.
A panel of military officials from MacDill Air Force Base recently came to the same conclusion.
Serving as unbiased judges in a contest composed of six nominees, they selected Owens as the General Federation of Women’s Clubs Florida Division District 8 Volunteer of the Year from among the district’s 14 GFWC-sanctioned organizations.
“The recipient of this award is a member who has given unselfishly of her time and energy for worthwhile causes to better her community and her world and to help others,” said District 8 Director Cathy Geary.
Geary said Owens exemplifies the true meaning of the GFWC tagline, “Living the Volunteer Spirit.”
“We are proud of Maryrose and know that she will represent us well as she competes for the State Volunteer of the Year,” said Geary, who noted the winner will be announced during the annual GFWC Florida Convention in Orlando slated for April 25 – 28.
Owens said she was “shocked” when she heard she was chosen as the prestigious award’s recipient.
“I stood there and listened to them read the reports about the others. I didn’t expect the winner to be me,” she said.
Owens joined the club in 2001 and served two terms as its president, in 2011 – 2012 and 2012 – 2013.
“What I’m most proud of after that first year was that we won eight state awards, when the year before it was one,” she said. “It showed that if you put yourself into it and work hard you can accomplish much.”
What’s meant a lot to her as well, she said, are the relationships she’s developed and the fellowship she’s enjoyed with the other club members.
Owens, 82, and a retired registered nurse, said volunteering is something that comes naturally to her.
“That’s been my whole life,” she said.
In addition to serving as president of the Temple Terrace Woman’s Club she’s chaired the home life department and the organization’s annual Community Prayer Breakfast.
For the last 39 years, Owens also has been coordinator of Meals on Wheels’ five routes in Temple Terrace as well as a frequent deliverer of meals to the community’s homebound. In 2010 she was named Meals on Wheels Volunteer of the Year for Hillsborough County.
Also a longtime member of the Temple Terrace Friendship Club, she served two years as its president.
In addition, Owens has been actively involved in the Temple Terrace Garden Club and heads up the sale of poinsettias at Christmastime as a fundraiser for the organization. She also helps in the delivery of the plants. And during the club’s annual Sunday in the Park event, she plays Mrs. Claus to help usher in the holiday season.
As a parishioner at Corpus Christi Catholic Church she has been president of its ladies guild and helped plan for the senior group’s monthly meetings.
At home, Owens, who is known as an early riser, is either sewing pillow dresses for Haitian children or cloth grocery bags she generously distributes throughout the community. Or you might find her painting, preparing meals for others or knitting scarves to sell at various fundraisers.
It’s not uncommon to see her donning one of her unique handmade scarves and those close to her know it’s why she has dubbed herself as the “scarf lady” in her email address.
While regularly doing for others she still manages to make time for her husband, Bobby, to whom she’s been married for 62 years.
As avid Gator fans and season-ticket holders for both their football and basketball games, they make it a priority to attend each and every at-home event.
Joyce McKenzie can be reached at [email protected]