Words aren’t too useful when it comes to describing Mary Tomaselli. There are plenty that fit— lovely, gracious, generous, unconventional—but a string of single-word adjectives doesn’t come close to doing the trick. So we’ll switch to phrases—sparkly-eyed, sharp-witted, warm-hearted, community-minded—but that falls short, too. To get a sense of Mary one must do just that…her infectious smile, her melting brown eyes, her great smell (which perseveres no matter how many hours she’s spent in a hot kitchen), and her unmatched ability to make a person feel welcome and an honored guest in her restaurant. Owner and operator of La Tee Da in Allentown, her success is certainly due to the restaurant’s aesthetic, gorgeous patio, and delicious, homemade food. But it is Mary’s presence as a hostess that imbues La Tee Da with its special familial feel—that and the fact that it is a family affair, with three generations of Mary’s family on full time staff. Recently and unexpectedly Mary was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. She is pursuing holistic treatment as well as conventional therapy. Her daughter and granddaughter helm the restaurant, and the community—which Mary has always been an active member of from when she owned the Beanstalk on Bryant St. to her dry-cleaning business on Allen St.— is invited to a benefit at Harry’s Harbour Place Grille on Sunday (April 18). It’s a $30 donation for a cash bar, entertainment, and, no doubt, terrific food.