Unsung Hero — Rob Milroy

Volunteer Mentor and Board Chair, Communities In Schools of Peninsula
Rob Milroy — Resident of Gig Harbor, married, two children
Rob Milroy — Resident of Gig Harbor, married, two children

Rob Milroy started volunteering in the local community after moving to Gig Harbor about six years ago. A Peninsula High School assistant soccer coach, he’s especially passionate about education — which is why, perhaps, he delivers snacks for after-school programs as part of his volunteer work at the Gig Harbor Fish Food Bank.

One organization he devotes much of his time to is Communities In Schools of Peninsula, where he is a volunteer mentor and currently the chair of the board of directors. Milroy is one of CISP’s 135 volunteers, who over the past year alone contributed a combined 4,100 volunteer hours.

An affiliate of Communities In Schools of Washington, CISP was formed in 2000 to serve students in the Peninsula School District with academic and nonacademic programs. The nonprofit’s mission is to “surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.” The students CISP helps are typically in the bottom 10 percent of their class academically, and some face social and emotional challenges that impact their learning.

CISP has site coordinators at the schools who help determine the needs of the individual site. Weekly reading and math one-on-one mentoring is CISP’s primary focus, and the after-school program is free for the students. The nonprofit also provides case management as well as programs such as art clubs and assemblies. Last year, more than 300 students received academic mentoring and case management, and more than 3,000 students participated in whole-school programs at seven sites.

Milroy started out with CISP six years ago as math tutor at Peninsula High School. A year later, he joined the board so he could have a more active role in the organization’s partnership with the local schools.

A retired business executive from the high-tech industry, Milroy grew up and was educated in Scotland. He traveled the globe while enjoying a career in the United States.

“I believe I have a broad view of what the world will ask of our students,” he says.

In addition to serving as the board chair, he is currently a mentor in the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program, which he says “helps kids develop their self-confidence and belief in their future goals in life.”

“Rob is passionate about meeting the needs of the kids we serve and is committed to our mission of helping kids stay in school and graduate on time,” says Colleen Speer, Communities In Schools of Peninsula executive director. “His leadership on our board of directors is outstanding. Rob is a strategic and visionary person, which has helped CISP improve and deepen our level of service.”

To learn about CISP including volunteer opportunities, go to peninsula.ciswa.org.

Why Be Involved

I grew up in a working class family, raised by a widowed mother. I was encouraged by my mother, with the help of teachers and coaches, to get an education. That education was the passport to many of life’s opportunities that were not open to many of my friends.

I feel I have a lot of great experiences to share with and encourage today’s kids. There is the academic education, but even more important is the “life skills” education, character, personality, leadership, team player, creativity, empathy and ability to grow and change. Being a mentor and coach gives me a unique opportunity to help the students build the bridge to their life after school.

Best Part of the ‘Job’

Being involved with the students over their four years at high school, watching them develop from “kids” to young adults and establishing a dialogue and rapport with them.

Unsung Heroes

WestSound Magazine would like to recognize our local unsung heroes who go above and beyond in their daily jobs. Do you know a first responder, teacher, public servant, assistant or any other professional who deserves to be in the spotlight? Email a nomination to rtollefson [at] wetapple [dot] com with a short statement why this person is an unsung hero. Please include your contact information.

Biggest Challenge

Having all students believe that they can make a contribution. You do not need to be an “A” student to succeed. Your success will be much more impacted by your work ethic, character and regard for others.

Best Compliment

The best part of the work is the constant “emotional feedback” that is received on a daily basis — when somebody “gets it,” the thank-yous and smiles when the light comes on, and the positive response to one-on-ones. The note quietly stuffed into my hand that says, “Thank you for helping me stand on my own two feet. Your encouragement helped me believe in myself.”

Things I Can’t Live Without

My family, friends and involvement with the community. Reading the newspaper, especially the op-ed pieces for thought stimulation.

Best Way to Relax

Walking in the magnificent scenery of the Pacific Northwest.

Hobbies Outside of Volunteering

Playing golf, watching soccer, cycling, walking, attending adult classes at Tacoma Community College.