Mari Sinton-Martinez was born to love Colorado Springs.

She comes from a long line of influential area natives — including the founders of Sinton Dairy in Colorado Springs and owners of the Dalton Ranch community in Durango — but determined at a young age she wanted to help the region through her personal efforts.

For her, that impact is seen through her philanthropy and her work as a board member for organizations including the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, the U.S. Olympic Committee Foundation, Peak Education and the Pikes Peak Community Foundation.

“Because of her incredible generosity, coupled with her significant sphere of influence, Mari excels at bringing individuals, causes, and much needed resources together to make a positive impact in our community,” said Judy Mackey, co-owner of the Garden of the Gods Club and Resort. “Personally, I know Mari to be a true philanthropist, never expecting anything in return for her kindness and generosity. Her passionate heart for Colorado Springs as a fourth-generation native and her generous, personal support of numerous deserving causes truly makes Mari a Woman of Influence for Colorado Springs.”

Sinton-Martinez grew up in the Skyway neighborhood and attended Colorado College, where she studied education. While taking a break after graduation, she went to work for Sunrise Travel agency in Colorado Springs — and less than seven years later, when she was 30, Sinton-Martinez bought the business.

[su_note note_color=”#7db9ff”]Personal Mantra: “I think that it is very important to give back to the community. … I’ve lived here my entire life, so I’ve seen the changes and the growth, as well as some of the problems that come with that. So I just feel responsible to take care of that and continue to make our community a great place to live.” [/su_note]

Sinton-Martinez spent the next few years growing the business, expanding into retail and other services, before deciding to sell the business in 2007, just before the internet began to consume the industry.

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Since then, she said her passion has been in philanthropy and serving the community through volunteerism.

“I’ve always enjoyed volunteering my time — it has always been a passion of mine,” she said. “And I’ve been very fortunate to be able to focus on philanthropy and helping the community.”

Sinton-Martinez, who now lives in Mountain Shadows with her husband Paul and their three golden retrievers (Singita, Amani and Zuri, whom she affectionately calls her children), also is co-founder of the “100 Colorado Springs Women Who Care” organization and chairwoman of the Discover Goodwill Foundation.

“Mari’s leadership and dedication have deeply impressed me,” said Karla Grazier, president and CEO of Discover Goodwill of Southern & Western Colorado. “Rarely have I seen someone with her grace and quiet generosity also possess the passion and determination to make a meaningful difference.”

In discussing her drive to make a positive impact on people’s lives, Sinton-Martinez said she was heavily motivated by her own struggles, which included losing close family members at a young age and a subsequent 20-year battle with an eating disorder.

“I went from 182 pounds to 82 pounds,” she said. “Finally, I got tired of fighting it and went to rehab. Now I’m happy and healthy, and I’ve learned to balance my life and to enjoy it.”

Sinton-Martinez, who has been described by those who know her well as a “quiet philanthropist,” said that although she isn’t involved in philanthropy and community volunteerism for the recognition it sometimes brings, she is honored to be named one of the 2016 Women of Influence.

“I don’t do well with receiving compliments and getting awards, because everything I do really is just from the heart,” she said. “But the nonprofit world has really created kind of a second family for me — and I love that.”

— Cameron Moix