TEMPLE TERRACE — In her fourth year of retirement, Cheri Donohue still works every day.
Donohue, 64, is a familiar face at nearly every civic, business and political event in town. The only thing that changed, her family and friends say, is the impassioned promoter of Temple Terrace no longer collects a paycheck.
This weekend, for example, Donohue was staging the local garden club’s Holiday Market, where vendors gathered to offer an array of locally produced holiday items for shoppers.
In Temple Terrace, a riverside city of about 25,000 tucked next to Tampa, Donohoe’s family, friends and acquaintances see her as a blessing to the community.
“Cheri spends her entire week planning ways to help other people,” Temple Terrace Rotary Club President Perry Jacobsen said.
“It is in her soul, character and being,” Temple Terrace Chamber of Commerce Chairwoman Jamie Klingman said. “She embodies the true meaning of being a community volunteer.”
Karen Hartman, Donohue’s daughter, attributes her mother’s passion for aiding others to growing up in a large Tampa family.
“They were always helping each other,” Hartman said. “It comes natural to her. She always has a great idea and likes to find ways to get others involved to help.”
For more than three decades, Donohue has participated in practically every business expo, Fourth of July parade, food drive and charity event in the city. She has served on local boards, advisory councils and PTAs.
Her efforts have not gone unnoticed. Donohue was named the Greater Temple Terrace Chamber of Commerce’s 1990 Citizen of the Year. She later became the chamber’s executive director for seven years, retiring in 2009.
The Temple Terrace Junior Woman’s Club has established the Cheri Donohue Award for involvement and commitment. Other honors include being recognized by SERVE as Outstanding Volunteer in Education and Volunteer of the Year, and being chosen the 2012 Best President in the small club division for Rotary District 6890.
Donohue remains active in clubs, including Rotary, Junior Woman’s Club, Temple Terrace Service League and the community arts council. She is president of the Temple Terrace Garden Club and coordinates the annual Trot Thru the Terrace road race.
“The best part about that run is it brings people who might never come to Temple Terrace,” Donohue said.
“They come to the city and run through the neighborhoods to see how beautiful it really is.”
Jacobsen described Donohue’s devotion to community service as her pledge to improve the lives of Temple Terrace residents.
“She is the type of person who makes you want to be a part of the organization,” Jacobsen said.
Donohue summed up her successes in terms of teamwork.
I have always had a knack for putting people together,” Donohue said. “I am very hands-on. I think hands-on is what make people want to work with you. People are willing to work when you have that drive.”
Last year, Donohue made an unsuccessful run for mayor. She said the experience gave her a greater perspective on city matters and issues important to residents.
Born and raised in Tampa’s Seminole Heights neighborhood, Donohue was the oldest of eight children.
She attended Tampa Catholic High, during which time she met Mike Donohue, a student at rival Jesuit High.
Mike Donohue received his first clue about what was to come when his then-girlfriend volunteered him to help her decorate Tampa Catholic for the senior prom.
“He knew what he was getting into,” Cheri Donohue said.
Mike Donohue added: “We are always the last ones to leave” after an event. “I have resigned myself to that.”