Nancy Heller can recall returning to her Clintonville home after a 14-hour workday a few years ago to discover that someone had brought her trash can in. Right away, she knew who did it. It was, in the grand scheme of things, no big deal, but for Heller at the end of a long, hard day, it was appreciated.
“It was one less thing I had to worry about,” she said.
Now a resident of Upper Arlington, Heller nominated former across-the-street neighbor Robin Baker as an Everyday Hero for her many gestures involving kindness and consideration for those living around her—not to mention taking care of that garbage can.
“I’d take it in just because it’s no big deal,” Baker said.
Baker wasn’t thrilled at the notion of being singled out for acts that, for her, are normal and natural.
“I was like, ‘Can I get out of this?’ ” Baker said.
“Robin’s the type of person who has always done good deeds, always in the background,” said Heller, who lived in Clintonville for 22 years. “She’s not the kind of person who’s going to win any big awards, do anything stupendous that gets a lot of recognition.
“They go unnoticed, but not by me and others who have been the recipients of those good deeds. She’s, without a doubt, the best neighbor I’ve ever had.”
“I just like helping people, because I know a lot of the older people can’t do it all anymore,” Baker said.
A native of Abington, Pennsylvania, Baker said she didn’t know what she wanted to do with her life after graduating from high school. After attending classes at a two-year college, she still was unsure. Several part-time jobs followed until Baker moved to Central Ohio with her first husband in the late 1970s when he was working for 84 Lumber. They initially settled in the Pataskala area. After that marriage ended in divorce, Baker moved to south Clintonville and worked for a time at an insurance agency.
She’s retired now from a career that included school bus driver, medical supplies sales and running a tire store—the first woman, she stated with pride, to be hired as a manager for the particular nationwide tire chain.
“I loved that job,” Baker said. “That was kind of fun.”
Most recently, she managed a fitness center for women.
“Sometimes I call myself a Jill of all trades,” Baker said.
Baker and her second husband, Howard Baker, wed 32 years ago. He works in sales for Bob-Boyd Lincoln-Mercury. They have a 28-year-old son, William, who works at Safelite Auto. And Robin Baker works at making her neighbors happy, whether it’s picking up mail, taking in trash cans, helping a 92-year-old man who simply wasn’t able to make his bed anymore or collecting litter while out walking.
“Trash is my big thing,” she said.
Not long ago, an older woman who lives near Baker summoned her over to help investigate a mysterious beeping sound in her home. The woman was concerned it was something that might be a major problem and wanted to know if she should called the fire department.
Baker tracked the sound down to something completely innocuous, set the neighbor’s mind at ease and assured her, “Always call me first.”
“Whatever she can do to make someone’s life a little easier, she does it,” Heller said.
“I think it’s a rewarding thing to do, because you’re helping people, so how can that not be rewarding?” Baker asked.