Retired businessman Tom Robinson volunteers as a handyman, doing maintenance and repairs at Golden House. / H. Marc Larson/Press-Gazette Media
Bay Area Humane Society volunteer Terry Lauerman is the man to see about a cat.
Volunteers for: Golden House, a Green Bay center for domestic violence survivors and their children.
Nominated by: Dina Borremans, volunteer coordinator for Golden House
Nomination letter: “Tom arrives every Tuesday morning with a smile on his face and a willingness to get started on any list of projects we have for him. He is extremely reliable and will often come back outside of his normal volunteer shift to accommodate odd jobs, perhaps bringing friends or family members who can help him tackle the job.”
Retired businessman Tom Robinson repairs a vacuum cleaner while volunteering at Golden House. / H. Marc Larson/Press-Gazette Media
Caring. Priceless. An angel.
That’s how staff members at Golden House describe Tom Robinson.
The retired businessman from De Pere arrived at the women’s shelter in 2007 eager to give of his time and abilities. In the years since, he’s been there almost every Tuesday — and many other days — as the facility’s handyman.
And its maintenance crew. And its heating and air-conditioning technician. And its energy-conservation expert.
“He single-handedly takes care of it all,” said DinaBorremans, volunteer and special events coordinator at Golden House, a Green Bay center for domestic violence survivors and their children. “Tom arrives every Tuesday morning with a smile on his face and a willingness to get started on any projects we have.”
Robinson is one of the seven community volunteers recognized in Press-Gazette Media’s “Seven Days of Giving” campaign that highlights people who donate time and talents throughout the year.
Big project? It’s not uncommon for Robinson to show up with friends or family members to assist. Something simple like replacing a light bulb? There’s a good chance Robinson will figure out a way to make the fixtures operate more efficiently — and find bulbs that not only cost less but last longer.
Ask Robinson to describe himself, and he simply says “blessed.”
The 73-year-old retired in 1999 as head of Robinson Metal and Roofing, a family-run metal fabrication and machining business now located in Lawrence and known as Robinson Metal Inc. In the years since, he has helped his three adult sons with business efforts — the metal-fab business, a restaurant and a renovation firm — and indulged passions for travel and rebuilding old cars.
“I was raised to share my time, talent and treasure,” he says. “Part of my makeup has always been that I’m high-energy, ‘go, go go.’ I guess I just thought I could share that.”
At Golden House, he works from a tidy workroom in the facility’s basement. Surrounded by old vacuum cleaners and more than 20 half-full cans of paint, he often works in a flannel shirt and blue jeans.
Borremans said some of Robinson’s value to Golden House residents and staff is intangible. Because he is sensitive to the work done at the facility, she said, he has earned the trust of dozens of women who have lost faith in the men in their lives. The center currently is home to about 40 women and children.
“It’s a very special volunteer who can be that perfect fit,” she said. “It’s great to be able to know that every Tuesday, Tom will be here, and he’ll get stuff done.”
Robinson, of course, is more modest about his role.
“Why did I volunteer here? There aren’t one or two things that stand out,” he said. “I guess I’m just here because they needed someone.”
— email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @PGDougSchneider