Education

Virgie Robinson dedicated her life to others. Her legacy is about to go worldwide

Virgie Robinson’s family continues her legacy in Pasco

The Robinson family continues Virgie Robinson's legacy of helping Pasco families at Virgie Robinson Elementary School.
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The Robinson family continues Virgie Robinson's legacy of helping Pasco families at Virgie Robinson Elementary School.

It’s been six years since Reka Robinson sat in a classroom in an east Pasco school named after her grandmother and was motivated to make a difference.

“I saw a little girl and she did not fit in her clothes,” the Power 99.1 FM radio host said. “The teacher told me that her parents were having a hard time keeping up with her growth ... I said, ‘What size is she? I’ll go buy her clothes.’”

That is how the Power Kids Clothing Drive started, and Friday she brought in more than enough clothes for 30 children. It’s only one of the ways Virgie Robinson’s legacy continues at the elementary school that bears her name.

No other Pasco school has the same kind of ties to the family of its namesake. Virgie Robinson’s four children traveled across the country and state this week as they prepared to raise money at a golf tournament and auction for the scholarship that bears her name.

The family started getting involved shortly after the school got its name, Rickie Robinson said. He called his family members and asked what they were going to do to help out.

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Reka Robinson delivers clothes to students at Virgie Robinson Elementary School in Pasco on Friday after doing her annual clothing drive with HAPO Community Credit Union. Reka, a Power 99.1’s radio personality, is Virgie Robinson’s granddaughter. Noelle Haro-Gomez Tri-CIty Herald

While they could have just donated money or printed T-shirts, they wanted to do something more substantial and permanent.

“We all decided the way we are, and the way we have been taught and observed over the years, that we chose to do something,” he said. “The do something was to create a scholarship fund that was targeted specifically to little kids here.”

They hope to ease the burden of graduating students who either need money for college or to start a trade.

Since starting the program, they’ve helped 18 students.

Robinson family DNA

There must be something in the Robinson DNA that makes them return to help Pasco, Rickie Robinson, and his sisters, LaTanya Jimerson and Tovia Bradley said.

A transplant from Memphis, Tenn., in her early 20s, Virgie Robinson began working with Pasco schools in 1966 as an ombudsman for the minority community. As her program grew, she became the director, a role she stayed in until she retired in 1986.

Her children are still surprised when they learn about the lives she touched over the years.

Most recently, as Rickie’s wife was collecting donations for an auction at a Seattle church, one lady spoke up and related a story to her about Virgie.

“It turns out this lady was married to a guy who grew up here, down the street from us, and back in the day when he was coming out of high school, momma got him into trade school,” Rickie said.

Many of these stories they hadn’t heard about until their mother’s funeral in 2003.

African pen pals

The next project for the school will be the creation of a pen pal program with a school in Kenya where students come from a similar rural, lower-income community.

“We have 20 students there that are on board and ready to do a pen pal (program) with students here,” she said. “It’s phenomenal, because they’re rural.”

“There is support statewide to nationwide, and now we’re ready to go worldwide,” said Principal Wendi Manthei. “It’s not something that you can do at a school if you don’t have the legacy.”

The Robinson family doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. At Friday’s clothing drive, the fourth generation of the family helped distribute clothes.

“No matter where we are, where we go, this will always be home,” Rickie Robinson said.

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