Rob Portinga

YWM Engage: A Legacy of Building Community

It’s been two long years since the extended community of the Obesity Action Coalition gathered together in Tampa for the YWM Convention. All of us have lived through losses, both big and small. But this community has felt none more deeply than the passing of Rob Portinga, an OAC board member who leaves us with a legacy of building community within the OAC and beyond.

So it was totally fitting and inspiring to open the YWM2022 Engage meeting last night with a tribute to Rob and his remarkable passion for stitching people together in a community.

A Fearless, Persistent Friend and Advocate

In remembering Rob last night, people offered a portrait of someone who never flinched from claiming anyone as a friend. OAC board member Nikki Massie told us that she never would have showed up for her first YWM convention if Rob had not offered for her to room with him at the meeting so she could afford to come. His close friend and fellow board member Debera Gau described the situation when he showed up at the meeting looking for his roommate:

“It became apparent the he didn’t even really know her. I’m a mom, so I asked him, ‘Do you even know who you’re looking for? Have you ever met her?’ He said only knew her as an online friend. But that’s who Rob was. Nobody was not his friend. Everyone was safe with him, because he always saw the good in everyone.”

This is the free grace that Rob poured out over the OAC community. He was a fearless, persistent friend and advocate for all of us. He never had a bad thing to say about anyone.

The Rob Portinga Memorial Scholarship

Recognizing Rob’s incredible passion for bringing people together, the OAC is re-dedicating its convention scholarship program to be the Rob Portinga Scholarship Fund. It’s through this fund that ten participants were able to come and participate in YWM Engage this year. It would not have been possible for them without it. Rob was a friend to us at ConscienHealth and we, in turn, support his memorial scholarship fund because it serves to expand this community of friendship and support that embodies the spirit Rob brought to OAC. We are all truly blessed for knowing him. He has left us with a legacy of building community.

If you wish to learn more about the fund, you can read about it and donate here. For more on remembering Rob’s legacy, click here.

Rob Portinga, Positively Healthy; photo courtesy of the Obesity Action Coalition

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July 15, 2022

One Response to “YWM Engage: A Legacy of Building Community”

  1. July 15, 2022 at 8:39 am, Jennifer Todd said:

    I am so sorry to hear of Rob’s passing. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and the whole OAC family.