Shortly after her mother passed away, Robin Beck found a check stub in her mother's belongings from a donation she had made to the United Way. Finding that small piece of paper meant a lot to the 59-year-old of Altoona, who has acted as the United Way of Blair County Chief Professional Officer since 2008.
"I think she'd be very proud, proud of what she's been able to instill in me," Beck said. "She always gave back, even though she supported a young child on a limited income. I thought it was neat she supported the organization I'm now leading."
Beck is the winner of this year's WISE Women of Blair County award for Non-Profit/Government Service.
Mirror photo by Patrick?Waksmunski
WISE?Women of Blair County has chosen Robin Beck of Altoona as this year’s Non-Profit/Government Service award winner.
Before taking her position for United Way, Beck worked with Blair Senior Services, Inc. for 20 years, and became involved in various organizations including Rotary Club of Altoona, Operation Our Town and the Altoona Housing Authority.
An Altoona Area High School graduate, who lives with her husband, N. Dan, in Altoona, earned undergraduate degrees in both English and sociology from Bucknell University in Lewisburg.
Beck said she's proud that she's done things in her career that have benefited the community, and happy that the community has shown its support for her with this award.
"You're always focusing on 'I didn't do enough, I need to do more,'" Beck said about working in the nonprofit sector. "It's nice to be recognized and take the time to reflect and know the community thinks you're doing good things."
Beck said her initial desire to help the elderly population of Blair County stemmed from growing up in an older family and the time she spent taking care of her grandmother before she passed away.
"When she died, I was looking for other ways to reach out," Beck said. "I always had an affinity for older adults and enjoyed that population."
In her position with Blair Senior Services, Beck was able to build two senior centers in the area and raise funds to build a kitchen for the local chapter of Meals on Wheels. When she transitioned to United Way, co-workers like Susanna Tomlinson, the director of the Family Resource Center who nominated Beck for the WISE Women award, said that same passion and "ability to speak from her heart" spilled over into her new line of work.
"People involved in nonprofits, they have to have a very special heart and a very special mind-set," Tomlinson said. "You don't go into nonprofit work for any other reason than having passion. What I met Robin, I could hear that passion in her voice."
Tomlinson said Beck has made strides in reorganizing and improving United Way by creating a "working board" that does more than just attend meetings, and by making sure that grant money received is well spent and always goes directly back to aiding the community. Beck also volunteer teaches grant writing to students at Penn State Altoona who major in human development and family studies.
"She takes time out of a busy schedule to do that," Tomlinson said. "Robin is definitely not a selfish individual. ... She is very involved and shares herself. I think those are aspects of leadership."
Beck said she's happy to be a role model for other women in the community simply because it's important to be able to give back.
"Whether you're male or female, you need examples to be encouraged to reach your full potential," she said.
Mirror Staff Writer Beth Ann Downey is at 946-7520.