The audience laughed with the stately Romona Robinson as she walked to the podium jokingly saying, "I'm always amazed at how tall I am!"
The highly admired and respected eight-time Emmy Award winning news anchor captivated the large crowd at Blue Heron Event Center June 13, where she was the guest speaker at Seasons of Giving, presented by the Medina County Women's Endowment Fund.
Robinson, a woman driven by her faith and the love of her family, shared fascinating snippets about her journey that began as a shy but happy child in a backwoods rural town in Missouri (population 212, of which 12 were her family), to becoming Cleveland's first black female to anchor the prime time evening news; she was chosen from a field of 1,100 candidates and still holds that position after 30 years.
At the age of six Robinson began to realize life as she had known it was about to change when her mother told the children their father had left them. However, her strong, proud mother, who worked in a factory, assured them she would care for them, they would be educated, and they would not go on welfare.
True to her word, Robinson's mother managed to get nine of the children through college; she always told them God puts the gifts out there, it was their responsibility to recognize them. At the age of 68, after the children were educated, and because it was something she also always wanted to do, Robinson's role-model mother earned her GED, and at the age of 70 enrolled in college to study computer science.
Robinson relied on the guidance of her mother, worked through countless stumbling blocks and disappointments, engaged in many tearful conversations with God, and ultimately achieved her goal to become a prime time anchor like her idol, Walter Cronkite.
Today, in addition to being a renowned, award-winning journalist and author, Robinson has devoted her talents to many philantropic endeavors that highlight and encourage children and women to realize their full potential.
Judge Jennifer Hensal, Ohio 9th District Court of Appeals, told the audience about the Legacy Tree of Giving Recognition and encouraged their participation.
The evening continued with the presentation by Mary Isaac of the 2019 Philanthropist Tribute to Katie Horn Woodcock, one of the three women who initiated the WEF in Medina County. Woodcock accepted on behalf of herself and previous honorees Jane Lang and Gwen Rivers, who both passed away last year.
Following a video created by the BEAT highlighting the 2018 Grantee Award winners - Summer Reinforcement, RCMC, Main Street Medina, Catholic Charities, Operation HOMES, Feeding Medina County, and The Medina County Children's Center - Ellen Hunter presented the 2019 Grantee Awards to the following:
*Child Guidance and Family Solutions $1,500
*Main Street Medina $1,750
*Marian's Closet $2,500
*OutSupport Inc. $2,075
*Rape Crisis Center $2,000
*Recovery Center of Medina County $2,000
*Stewart's Caring Place $1,000
Impact Grants of $5,000 each were given to Brunswick Education Foundation/The BEAT, and Feeding Medina County. Impact grants are awarded to programs that empower and enable women or girls under the age of 25.
This year's total, $23,325, is the most given out in one year. Since its inception in 1998, WEF has awarded more than $170,000 to nonprofit organizations that improve the quality of life of women and children in Medina County.
Robinson drew the winning tickets for the four seasonal raffle baskets assembled by Deborah Wasylko/Baskets Galore, valued at more than $1,800 in gifts donated by 28 individuals and businesses. Guests were then treated to a special dessert donated by Blue Heron especially for this occasion. Hello Cookie favors donated by Miss Addison Alspach were at each place setting on the tables.
After the program, Robinson graciously autographed books for those wishing to purchase her story, "A Dirt Road to Somewhere," and donated 10 percent of the proceeds to WEF.
Cultivataor level sponsors ($3,000) were Remington Products Company/Powerstep and Katie Horn Woodcock. Sapling level sponsors ($1,000) were MCWEF Founding members Ann Cole, Pam Miller, Nancy Pound, Katie Horn Woodcock, Kristopher Immel, Esquire, and Roderick Linton Belfance, LLP. Sprout level sponsors ($500) were Hunter Insurance Agency Inc., and Barbara J. Dzur. There were several others at the Seed Sower and Gardner levels of sponsorship.
Heather Frey chaired the committee responsible for orchestrating the event with the assistance of Rebecca Alspach, Leah Comes, Marjorie Cook, Ellen Hunter, Amy Immel, Mary Isaac, Sue Simmons, and Katie Spisak, all Advisory Board members.
The mission of the Medina County Women's Endowment Fund is "to fund organizations and programs in Medina County that support women and children, to serve as a catalyst for needed projects, and to assist women in their growth as philanthropists."
Please read the companion piece from Arielle Campanalie/WEF for more in-depth coverage of the award recipients.
To learn more about WEF, call 330-376-8522 or visit www.MedinaWomensEndowment.org.