East Texas Volunteer Making a Difference - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

2/6/04-Gresham

East Texas Volunteer Making a Difference

Limited by a mental handicap, Robin Thomas doesn't work and is unable to drive, but she doesn't let her limitations stop her from making a difference in her community.

At 7:45 each weekday morning, Thomas heads out the door on her walk to Owens Elementary School. On most mornings the 1/2 mile trek takes her just 30 minutes, but it's a journey she said she's always wanted to make.

"When I first graduated from High School this was my goal is to become a volunteer."

As a volunteer Thomas doesn't get a paycheck, but what she lacks in income, she gets back in friendship. Kindergarten teacher Linda Gazette works with Thomas each day. She said the class benefits greatly from her presence.

"I think (the kids) really appreciate her," she said. "As you noticed when you came in everybody was glad to see her and we welcomed her warmly."

Thomas spends much of her time in Gazette's class, taking on projects and filling in wherever needed. Gazette said she's an invaluable resource.

"She's so dependable and responsible and conscientious and for a volunteer to have those characteristics and come everyday, it's just remarkable."

A special woman embraced by a special group of people.

"I feel it's a very vital part of our life and I think we are as much a part of her family as she is ours," Gazette said. "I think she will hopefully continue until she retires."

This isn't Thomas's first volunteer position. Before she moved to East Texas two years ago she volunteered at a private school in California and prior to that while living in Michigan, she volunteered at a hospital.

Chris Gibson, reporting
cgibson@kltv.com

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