A driving force behind some of the community's most dynamic organizations, Dina Rosetti has found her "giving place" in Bay St. Louis
- story by Denise Jacobs
That “giving place” has been a theme in Rosetti’s life. One of those lucky young women who know exactly what they want out of life, Rosetti made a conscious decision upon graduation from the University of Southern Mississippi (Hattiesburg) in 1990 to live a life that would make a difference. But where?
At university, Rosetti put her volunteer skills to work for the Ronald McDonald House via the Alpha Delta Pi Sorority in which Rosetti held a number of offices while earning her bachelor’s degree in clothing merchandise and marketing.
By the time she graduated, Rosetti—then Dina Hitt—understood her giving place was her own hometown, Bay St. Louis.
The Princess Dress Shoppe was the first job Rosetti worked after turning to Bay St. Louis. She later moved on to the insurance industry and worked for two local agencies. Now, Rosetti and her husband John own and operate Rosetti’s Liquor Barrel on Highway 90.
Rosetti’s “volunteer career” track has also evolved through the years. When she first returned to the Bay after college she volunteered with the Hancock County Exchange Club, where she held more than one office and twice received the member-of-the-year award. During the same period, she was on the advisory board for the Family Child Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse.
In the mid 90s, Rosetti’s volunteerism became personal when Scott Demboski, the husband of her best friend, lost his life in a train accident. Seeking to memorialize Demboski, Rosetti dedicated herself to creating what is now known as the Bay Area Youth Soccerplex but was then christened the Scott Demboski Memorial Soccerplex (on Longfellow Drive). If she wasn’t busy securing the grounds, raising money, or purchasing equipment, she was bringing lunch to the trustees who were clearing the property.
Through the years, Rosetti became a key member of the Bay-Waveland Yacht Club. She remembers the club as a haven for her family after Katrina—“a place that felt like home.” It was there that her son, Luke, developed the sailing skills he needed to later win high school national championships.
In 2017, Rosetti became the venerable club’s second female commodore. As commodore, she had no manager or assistant manager, so she was just as likely to be found bussing tables as making executive decisions.
Bay resident and club member Liz Maio remembers passing the yacht club after a serious storm and finding Rosetti clearing debris from the club grounds. “As commodore, Dina could have tasked any number of people with the job,” Maio says. “Yet there she was – the first one on the job.”
Rosetti also has served as the Junior Yacht Club coordinator from 2008-2016 and currently volunteers on the Food and Beverage Committee and the Entertainment Committee, in addition to serving as secretary for the Past Commodore Society.
Krewes and clubs have played a large role in Rosetti’s life. While the Mystic Krewe of the Seahorse is front and center now, Rosetti has been a member of the Krewe of Nereids for 26 years and was an officer for 21.
While no longer a casting member, the parking lot of Rosetti’s Liquor Barrel is ground zero for one of the biggest Nereids’ pre-parade parties in town.
Rosetti’s business is as active as its owner. In early May, Rosetti’s Liquor Barrel organized Bourbon on the Bay, its second benefit for the Starfish Café’s experiential education program. The business has also sponsored benefits to help allay the expenses of individuals in need of hospitalizations, etc.
Besides bettering and boosting the Bay/Waveland community, Rosetti has found volunteering a great way to meet new people or, alternatively, introduce new people to the community.
She credits her involvement with the Mystic Krewe of the Seahorse with friendships she’s established with transplants from parts far and wide, and she loves sharing her knowledge of Mardi Gras and the Bay/Waveland festival scene with newbies.
Dina’s husband, John Rosetti, is current president of Mystic Krewe of the Seahorse. While it’s true that Krewe members don their most swashbuckling outfits, Pirate Day in the Bay is not about the costumes. The event was created to help foster local economic development—and revelry, of course.
As the Krewe’s biggest fundraiser, Pirate Day garnered well over $10,000 in revenue last year, all of which was returned to the local community via various nonprofits.
The Krewe supports local business throughout the year, as well. Just a handful of Krewe members six years ago, now anywhere from 70-125 of its 300 members meet once a month at a different local business.
Like many Krewe members, Rosetti has a closet full of costumes—a closet and a half, actually, filled with pirate wear, Mardi Gras outfits, and wigs in every color of the rainbow. She has come a long way since her first Pirate Day in the Bay outfit—one of those “thin, store-bought Halloween pirate costumes.” If you look at my Facebook page, you will see that I will dress up in anything,” Rosetti says.
Rosetti’s suggestion to wannabe pirates is to start with one or two pieces—a simple white blouse, for example, or a gaudy coin necklace, and build from there. “Be creative,” she says. “It grows on you.” Now, after six years as a pirate, Rosetti sees costume possibilities everywhere she goes.
Rosetti offers the same sort of “start small” advice to residents who want to get involved. “Find an organization that supports your passion and start there,” she says.
As a person who has served in all aspects of volunteer spectrum—from delivering lunches to managing the finances to bussing tables, Rosetti has found that even the seemingly smallest efforts have big consequences.