March 18, 2022

Robinson to be honored at St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities gala

By Natalie Hoefer

Giving Hope-Changing Lives spring gala logo
It has been the tradition in the last several years for St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities in New Albany to present a Spirit of Hope Award at its annual Giving Hope-Changing Lives spring gala.

One of two 2020 award winners, Paula Robinson, has still been unable to receive her award due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

She will do so when the organization holds the gala, its largest fundraising event, on April 21 at The Galt House in Louisville, Ky.

Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. and dinner will be served at 7 p.m. The evening will include client witnesses, videos and a live auction. A virtual auction will also start on April 1. To view and bid on items, go to one.bidpal.net/stegala2022/welcome. The event will end around 9:30 p.m.

Register to attend the event by April 6 at www.stecharities.org/gala-reservations or by calling 812-949-7305 or e-mailing info@stecharities.org.

In honor of Robinson, below is an article that was published in the April 17, 2020, issue of The Criterion announcing her as a winner of the award.

Paula Robinson: ‘A perfect model of giving’ 

Robinson, [now 75], recalls a time when she and her late husband lived just down the street from what was then called St. Elizabeth Maternity Home.

When asked if she’d been told then that she would one day receive the organization’s highest honor, “I would have said no way,” she responded. “I wasn’t volunteering at that time—I was too busy raising a family and working.”

She and her husband later moved to Florida. After her husband died several years ago, Robinson returned to southern Indiana to be close to her family.

She recalled visiting with the agency’s then-development director, who told her about the 2005 merging of the maternity home with Catholic Charities. 

“I went to their gala and immediately got interested,” said Robinson. “Once you go to the

gala and listen to all the programs and things going on, it touches your heart. I knew this was an area I could give to, and it would really make a difference.”

She began volunteering for St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities around 2008—and made a difference herself.

Among her efforts for the organization, Robinson served on its advisory council from 2010-13. During that time, from 2011-13, she also chaired the committee for the gala that had first sparked her desire to contribute to the agency.

The member of St. Mary Parish in Navilleton “offered great leadership while serving on the St. Elizabeth advisory council,” said agency director Mark Casper. “She was a leading advocate for St. Elizabeth’s entry into offering an affordable housing program.  

“She demonstrated great vision in a period where decision and leadership were key. It was during her term on the council that St. Elizabeth experienced great growth, and Paula was instrumental in this happening.”

Casper described Robinson as “a perfect model of giving her time, talent and treasure, and all with the utmost humility and a what-can-I-do-to-help attitude.”

That willingness to roll up her sleeves and help is still visible today, and not just in the affordable housing units.

“I did lots of painting—lots of painting!” Robinson shared with a laugh. It was during her time on the council that the organization not only added the new housing units, but also converted the former Holy Trinity Parish’s rectory into its administration and social services building and renovated its transitional living home.

“I painted rooms and trim and fences—whatever was needed when we moved into the new office and re-did the new transition home,” she said. “I think I’ve retired from painting if I can get away with it,” she adds with a laugh.

Receiving the Spirit of Hope Award is “an honor,” said Robinson. “I’m thankful I’m in a position where I can give of my time. I feel like I’ve been blessed in my life with what I have and my family, and I need to give back to my community”—and the organization through which two of her nephews were adopted, she added. 

Casper referred to her as “humble” and one who “often prefers to stay in the background.” 

But make no mistake, he added: “Paula has been instrumental in bringing St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities to the next level” of giving hope and changing lives. †

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