News and Tribune

Lifestyles

December 7, 2013

THE EXTRA MILER: Stepping Up to Community Needs

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — Before the first Extra Miler interview for December was completed, it was evident that our Extra Miler, Ron Robb, was a human tornado; working long hours to care for the less fortunate and elderly community members within Southern Indiana. As tornados often form one after the other, it quickly became clear that there was a second tornado to be found in the same household, Ron’s wife, Donna.  

I met Ron and Donna the day after Thanksgiving and the discussion immediately lapsed into what we were thankful for in our lives. Ron and Donna both said their faith and family are their motivators. Married for 53 years in May, they have four children, 12 grandchildren and one great-grandchild and have recently downsized into a smaller home in order to unleash themselves from a time consuming large home and yard. The extra time is spent making the lives of others more tolerable. They also give testimony by spreading the word of their Christian faith to others.  

Donna retired in 1986 and a year later Ron took the leap, only to soon find out he was drowning in time. He simply couldn’t sit still. Ron picked up some part-time jobs and began seriously devoting time to volunteering efforts. He primarily gives his time to Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH) Catholic Church’s program entitled, Society of St. Vincent DePaul/Our Lady of Perpetual Help. The program, started by Charlie and Virginia Bell, along with Bill Canapel, is dedicated to person-to-person assistance that promotes human dignity and integrity.   

Ron explained the mission further, “Our mission is to ensure our neighbors receive the support they need to get their lives on track and that can include material assistance such as food or clothing, financial assistance with utilities, or other needs that will help families stay in their homes while having their basic needs met.”

Ron said, “Almost all of our calls come from single mothers in our community and we are especially mindful of the needs of the little ones.” As children, both Ron and Donna survived less than blissful family lives. Ron’s family was homeless until they were taken in by an elderly distant relative. He explains, “Growing up my life was so barren, but now it is so full and this comes from my relationship with Christ,” he added. “Christ taught us to love one another and to help those in need.”  

Becoming a bit choked up, he explained that had it not been for the woman who took his family into her home, he may have never found Christ and fears where he would be today had she not cared for them. Ron affirms, “Everyone has a story and mine has certainly had a lot to do with my need to work with this ministry. Christ has guided me to do certain things that I don’t think I could have done on my own.”  

At one time, there were only three people doing the work at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul — Ron, Donna and Rita Boehm. While Donna told a story of a young child pulling on her pants leg asking if she was going to get them some milk; Ron talked about the families that don’t have the basic necessities to survive.  

Greg Henderzahs, the interim director of the Center for Lay Ministries and the person who recommended the Robbs as Extra Milers, told a story of visiting a woman who was living in a home so dilapidated it was leaning drastically to one side. He said, “I feared we were in an extremely dangerous situation, while at the same time knowing that this woman lived in those dangerous conditions every day. Ron and I knew we had to stay and help.”

Dan Becher, a friend and current president of the OLPH Conference, stated, “Ron doesn’t see poverty — he only sees a person standing before him who is in need of help.” He added, “Both Ron and Donna are great examples of people who try to serve their fellow human beings without any thought of reward or acknowledgement.”

As our Extra Milers often do, both Donna and Ron were quick to give credit for the work they do to others. For instance, they wanted to be sure the column included the fact that there are approximately 130 families at OLPH who financially contribute monthly to ensure the program continues to thrive.  

Donna and Ron also work with other organizations, such as Westminster, Choices for Women, and the St. Elizabeth Home.  According to friends, Donna and Ron are non-judgmental, kind, persistently compassionate, spiritual, and dedicated.  When asked to describe one another in one word, Donna said Ron is compassionate and Ron described Donna as being strong.  Indeed, both Donna and Ron are all of these things to many people in our community and for that, we thank them both for being Southern Indiana Extra Milers.  

Extra Miler Tip of the Month:  Ron wants to encourage people to love their neighbors and to love, worship and praise the Lord, while Donna said people should not be afraid to step up and help others — no matter what the situation may be. She claims she used to be afraid of not having the tools necessary to help the under-privileged, but soon realized how good the process made her feel. Remember, we are all but an accident away from being the person in need.  Step up and volunteer whatever hours you can each week or month. Your efforts will make a difference.    

— Carol A. Dawson is a resident of Jeffersonville and owner of EEO GUIDANCE, Inc.  If you have seen or been a part of an act of kindness or know an EXTRA MILER, please contact her.  To submit an Extra Miler, a story, or act of kindness, contact Carol via email:  Cdawson@eeoguidance.com, mail: THE EXTRA MILERS, The News-Tribune, 221 Spring Street Jeffersonville, IN  47130-3340.

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