Owner, Villa Rosa Distinctive Linens
Former chair of the board at the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI)
Maruchi Azorin came to the United States with nothing more than a suitcase and some ambition. Mrs. Azorin was just 9 years old when her parents broke free of the turmoil being faced by a Fidel Castro-led Cuba and came to America for a better life. They had no money, no jobs, just the clothes on their backs and a desire to improve their lives and the future of their children. Mrs. Azorin’s impetus to improve the Hispanic community in Tampa Bay has made her a local champion for organizations such as the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI), the City of Tampa Mayor’s Hispanic Advisory Council and the Great Tampa Chamber of Commerce. She’s spent most of her adult life promoting one simple message: we need to give our children a chance to get a good education so that they too can succeed in life.
How did you become involved in charity work?
In the early 90s, I was appointed as the first Hispanic woman to ever serve on the Board of Governors of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, as well as the executive council. I served on the minority business development council for several years and on the Board of Governors for 6 years. Several people who also sat on the MOSI board asked me if I would consider joining the board there. By 2009, I was elected Chair of the Board, only the second woman elected in MOSI’s 50-year history, and the first Hispanic person ever elected. I served from 2009-2012, one year longer than the usual term.
What is one of your favorite charity events in Tampa Bay and why?
The annual Latinos Unidos Luncheon that I started in 1997. Each year we raise money for scholarships through this fundraising event featuring an outstanding national Hispanic speakers showcase the message of economic impact and mentoring. The proceeds from the event provide scholarship monies for Hispanic students who are in need of financial assistance for college education. We’ve been able to help more than 100 students with scholarships over the last 15 years.
How do you like to unwind?
I love to travel but I truly enjoy gardening at home on my back terrace overlooking Bayshore Boulevard.
Who do you most admire in Tampa Bay?
His name is Rafael Blanco. He’s a medical oncologist who works tirelessly diagnosing and treating cancer patients from all walks of life, and nationalities. He has a “never give up” attitude that I greatly respect and is inspiring to me each and every day. He is my husband.
Which Bay-area spots do you take your out-of-town guests to really show off our city?
Ybor City; I love to show off our wonderful multi-cultural gem. The history there really flavors our community.
Finish this sentence: The best meal in town is: a bowl of paella from my kitchen.
What are you currently reading?
I recently finished “Team of Rivals,” the Doris Goodwin book that inspired the new film Lincoln.
Name one thing most people wouldn’t know about you.
I didn’t speak English until I was 9 years old when I came to this country from Cuba
Favorite album of all time:
Earth, Wind and Fire’s Greatest Hits.
Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Don Quijote. I read it every couple of years and as I grow older, I tend to view him with so many different layers.
Do you have a motto or words of wisdom that you live by?
Tenacity with fairness