Giving a hand up, not a hand out: Caroline Tyler Robertson ’97

Caroline Robertson_026From an early age, Caroline Robertson was a wallflower — so shy that even a teacher calling on her in high school riddled her with immediate panic. But these days, “no” isn’t even an option. A personal challenge she made to herself while at Clemson shaped Robertson into a strong-willed, determined nonprofit executive who fights tooth and nail for her clients to succeed and have the same opportunities she’s been afforded.

Since 2007, Robertson has headed up Greer Relief and Resources, making sure every can of corn feeds a hungry tummy and every monetary donation helps a family’s financial crisis.

“The legacy I’m leaving is one of fearlessness. I don’t say no to anything especially when it comes to outreach and publicity. Because I’m not just talking to someone who might just help us donor wise, but also need wise.
I want anyone who needs us to know they can get to us. In that respect we’re not afraid. We’re not afraid to ask for help. We’re not afraid to give help. We’re not afraid to say we need to give more and do more. It doesn’t take much,” she said.

In 2015, Greer Relief assisted 3,927 individuals in 1,564 households. In addition, 10+ days of food was given to 4,991 people in 1,906 households. Having the gumption to be an advocate for others started in college with a promise to no longer let shyness dominate the determined will that truly existed within her.

Each week Robertson made herself sit in the front of the class and raise her hand at least once. She also made herself take speech as a first-semester freshman. After freshman year she joined the national service sorority Gamma Sigma Sigma and became the sorority’s public relations officer. She was a founding member and vice president of membership for Kappa Kappa Psi, a national honorary band fraternity.

By mid-college she was house manager for Tiger Paw Productions and organizing shows for James Taylor, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, and Hootie and the Blowfish.

“I love Clemson,” she said. “Any other place, I don’t think would have created the Caroline I am today. I have been solid orange since I stepped on that campus on Aug. 23 of 1991 and I have not looked back.”

“There were times where it was questionable if I could even afford to go to school, but I wouldn’t take no for an answer and did whatever needed to be done. Now, I take that same attitude into Greer Relief,” she said.
“We do whatever we can do to help.”

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