Caring and sharing: Business consultant honored for virtue
May 3, 2017 Times and Democrat article (reprinted with permission)
Article by DIONNE GLEATON T&D Staff Writer
Gary Robinson is a delightfully pleasant person who doesn't mind lending a helping hand to others within his community. It is something he does with pride and without need of recognition.
Robinson is a business consultant within the Small Business Development Center on the campus of South Carolina State University. The office offers individual, confidential business consulting at no cost and serves seven counties, including Orangeburg and Calhoun.
In addition to helping individuals start or maintain a small business, he has a particular affinity for helping the college students around him. He works with the S.C. State School of Business on business planning competitions and also works with students through his involvement with the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Hub on campus.
He believes in everyone's potential to succeed by putting the right tools in place for their educational advancement. Not only is he founder of the National Entrepreneurship Association, but he is also president of the Parent Teacher Student Association at Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School, serves as a member of the Orangeburg Consolidated School District 5 Bootstraps Board and is an active supporter of The One Orangeburg County Initiative.
It is Robinson's propensity to strive for moral excellence as he continues to accentuate the positive within his community that has earned him the designation as the exemplification of virtue as part of the Orangeburg County Community of Character initiative. The initiative highlighted virtue during April.
Robinson was pleasantly surprised by the honor.
"For me, being appreciated is probably the best gift a person can get. It puts a smile on my face. That's just one of the best things that could happen to me," said Robinson, a minister and church planter who also serves on the OCCOC faith committee.
He and his wife, Gardenia, who is better known as Denie, are the parents of two sons, Joshua, 19, and Jared, 17.
The essence of being virtuous is simple for him to explain.
"To be virtuous means being a morally upstanding person, someone who lives what they say they believe. They really do take their values and beliefs seriously, and it's a priority in their lives," he said.
Robinson added, "I truly believe that God sent me here to help make Orangeburg a better place. I'm interested in seeing Orangeburg progress regardless of whether it's my church, or it’s South Carolina State. I want to see Orangeburg improve in its entirety, so I'm extremely active in the community. And I don't do it for the sake of getting something back in return. "
A native of Atlanta, Robinson moved to Orangeburg approximately two years ago and has served at the S.C. State Small Business Development Center for approximately a year and a half.
He credits his parents, Eugene and Mary Robinson, for being examples of good character for him and his brother, Felix.
"That comes 1,000 percent from my parents and my entire family. I love my family. ... My mom is a retired chemist. My dad is a minister and a family therapist. They raised me and my brother with great values. I could write a book on them," he said.
He said one of his father's favorite lessons was teaching him to not "reinvent the wheel," while his mother always taught him not to be discouraged by those not sharing his vision and values.
"That resonates with me with what I do. Don't sit around waiting for people to make up their minds. Go get it done. I think that's important, and another important thing my parents taught me was to love people regardless of what they do, say or think," Robinson said.
He said he tries to instill the same values in his own children.
"The one about love is probably the main one. My youngest son is autistic, and he deals with getting picked at and all kinds of things like that. So my wife and I are constantly saying to him that he has got to love people regardless.
"I've always wanted my boys to be well rounded and be able to walk into any room and associate with anyone. My children should be able to walk into a room and light the place up wherever they go. It's not to be a character, but people should be able to respect them when they walk into a room," Robinson said.
He said he appreciates the efforts of OCCOC Executive Director Evelyn Disher and her staff to promote respect and other character traits within the community.
"I really feel like what they provide and what they do is like being the church without being the church. I think Evelyn Disher's job is to help uplift people's spirits and help the community grow spiritually without it being called that. ... I think that she is a valuable part of the Orangeburg fabric because what she's giving us -- good character -- is what's truly needed in this community," Robinson said.