Carrying On Robin’s Legacy, Harvey Foundation Becomes Force For Good

“I want people to remember her,” Adriene Lombardi said recently about her late mother, Robin Harvey. 

It’s been nearly seven years since Harvey, a beloved community member, volunteer, and co-owner of the Seagrille restaurant, was tragically killed while out running on Milestone Road as she was training for the Boston Marathon. In the years since, Lombardi, along with her family and close friends, launched the non-profit Harvey Foundation in her memory as a way to empower the island community in the areas of education, athletics, and community service. 

On Sunday, the foundation is hosting the seventh annual Run for Robin 5K, which raises funds for the organization’s scholarships and other initiatives. The run is the Harvey Foundation’s signature event, which brings hundreds of people together, but it’s hardly the only initiative the foundation has cultivated over the years. Growing organically while leveraging the relationships Adrienne and the other leaders of the organization have forged with island youth, the Harvey Foundation has become a dynamic force for good in the community. 

“We started to feel this theme of bringing our community together in a thoughtful and healthy way,” said Lombardi, who is in a new role this year as assistant principal of the middle school after more than a decade as an English teacher. “It’s all about relationships and trust.”

Through the Run for Robin and other fundraisers, the Harvey Foundation has been able to grant more than $100,000 in scholarships to Nantucket students over the past seven years. Beyond that work, the foundation now hosts an annual three-on-three basketball tournament to benefit the Boys & Girls Club, a monthly meal group with students, a pen pal program, its “GearUp” program to provide free athletic gear to kids, a weekend running club, a golf tournament, and more. 

The Harvey Foundation is led by Lombardi and her husband Travis, the new athletic director at the public schools, along with Elizabeth Reinemo, Melanie Sabin, and a small Board of Directors. The growth of the foundation has meant they have all taken on more duties despite having their own full-time jobs, but the work is rewarding, Lombardi said, and the organization’s motto – “It’s About Community” – is something they try to embody. 

“My mom was all about giving back to the community, and this community is a beautiful thing, but it can also be pretty tough,” Lombardi said. “So we come at it from a place of wanting to help whoever we can and in whatever way we can by sticking with our morals and our mission. Having an open door – if someone needs something, just listening to them. She (Robin) was really good at that, and I always try to get better at that.”

Most islanders remember Robin Harvey greeting them at the door of the Seagrille restaurant, which she owned with her husband EJ Harvey. But she was also a dedicated volunteer who gave her time and talent generously to numerous island organizations, including the Boys & Girls Club, Nantucket Cottage Hospital, and Holidays for Heroes. She coached softball and basketball, and served as an elected member of the Nantucket School Committee for three terms. 

Many of the people who will be running this Sunday will remember her in that light. But the students who now benefit from her legacy through the Harvey Foundation never had the opportunity to meet Robin. How does the Foundation share her memory with today’s students? 

“Her story – it stops you,” Adriene said. “When you hear about what happened to her, twice, people do want to learn about it. A student of mine, she said, ‘how do sign up for the Run for Robin and what is it?’ When I tell her, I start with who my mom was, who Robin was, and that student sees me in a different way and she says ‘yeah, I want to do that.’ My mother, I think about how humble and non-judgmental she was in as honest a way as possible. It was just who she was. I try and keep that in mind.”

Register here to participate in the 2021 Run for Robin 5K

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