Robert Lipman was recently approached by a North Georgia Media Outlet regarding his past, present, and future involvement with Tri-Mountain Retreat and Gilmer County Animal Shelter.
Robert Lipman also updated us on his endeavor to spearhead the Chabad House Building Project on behalf of his Rabbi.
Interviewer: In your Bio you mention that right after college you were a police officer in Atlanta, can you touch on that? What lead you to that decision and was it always meant to be a stepping stone to a career in law?
Robert Lipman: Most of my decisions have been rather impulsive and spontaneous and this was no exception. As a bailiff in Atlanta Traffic Court, one morning I was speaking with a police officer who happened to love his job, and by the end of the morning court session I decided I was going to go over to city hall and apply with the police department. My year as a police officer taught me how sheltered and naïve I was compared to the realities of life literally miles from where I grew up. It really had nothing to do with my desire to go to law school.
Interviewer: Did you know at a young age that you wanted to be an attorney?
Robert Lipman: My mom first gave me the idea of being a lawyer at the ripe old age of about 8 in the true Jewish mother tradition.
Interviewer: How did you make the transition from a successful Atlanta Attorney to Tri-Mountain Retreat?
Robert Lipman: It certainly was not an easy or quick decision. I was married to my practice for almost 35 years, and loved my work. However, it made me very one dimensional and I was quickly finding out that I could not devote the necessary time, and energy to both my law career and developing my 450-acre retreat for kids in Ellijay. I said to myself when my practice became more stressful than fun, it would be time to start in earnest the next chapter of my life.
Interviewer: What made you choose Ellijay, Ga for Tri-Mountain Retreat?
Robert Lipman: I knew I needed a mountain environment with a lake as a home base for my retreat. I also knew that the location would hopefully not be more than 100 miles from my Atlanta home in order for me to be able to actively participate in the development and growth of my project. After months of searching most of North Georgia for the right place Ellijay, located at the foothills of the Smoky/Appalachian Mountains (5 minutes from the start of the Appalachian Trail) provided the perfect location. I am proud to say that in addition to 2 lakes nestled among 3 mountains, I have now developed (and must maintain) over 12 miles of hiking and ATV trails.
Interviewer: We know that you have a deep passion for helping children, how did you decide to help the specific groups that come to your Retreat?
Robert Lipman: I recognized that I have no experience in any facet of this endeavor. I have always dreamed about helping the underprivileged, at risk, and special needs kids who have not been given the same opportunities for happiness and success. I fully recognize this Retreat will not change any lives; my goal is to provide a lasting positive memory that every child deserves to experience at some point in their lives.
Interviewer: How does the Chabad House Building Project in Kennesaw fit in with the desire to help underprivileged/special needs kids in the realm of your philanthropic goals?
Robert Lipman: Actually, there is no direct relationship in that regard. My focus in this project was based on two factors: My feeling sorry for my young Rabbi who literally held religious services and Jewish events in a strip shopping center where his congregation was left standing due to lack of space; and his repeated vision of hosting Kennesaw State Jewish students as a place of fellowship as well as a place of worship. I recognized that since his livelihood is solely based on donations and students are not a viable monetary source for the Rabbi to fulfill his dream. He has influenced my life tremendously over the past few years, and this is my small way of showing my appreciation and gratitude.
Interviewer: Can you touch on some of the organizations and charities that you have worked with in the past at Tri-Mountain Retreat?
Robert Lipman: To better target the “underdog” kids in Georgia, I knew early on I needed to partner with charitable organizations in bringing in the kids. I knew I could supply the facility and all the equipment necessary for a fun and successful weekend, but I also knew I needed organizational help in supplying the kids, transportation, and supervision during their stay. I successfully partnered with Camp Twin Lakes, Goshen Valley Boys Ranch and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta over the past 10 years, and recently developed a relationship with Mountain Wisdom Camps. I will never turn any charitable organizations down who seeks to utilize Tri-Mountain for the use of their kids.
Interviewer: We know that you have a love for animals and you have a very special three-legged rescue friend, named Charlie who goes everywhere with you. In addition to Tri-Mountain in Ellijay, can you tell us your involvement with the Gilmer County Animal Shelter?
Robert Lipman: I guess you can say I have a passion literally and figuratively for the “underdog”. It was incredibly moving and sad 8 years ago when I adopted Charlie to see the plight and dire conditions existing at the Cobb County Kill Shelter. I have partnered over the years with multiple dog rescue organizations, but I have always harbored the notion I could do more than writing checks. Over the years I came to know and befriend both the director of the Gilmer County Animal Shelter and the Gilmer County Board of Commissioners who happen to be dog lovers also. During the past year I have spearheaded the expansion of the Gilmer County Animal Shelter to double its size to enable housing dogs from the overcrowded Metro Atlanta dog kill shelters. Due to its proximity to Tri-Mountain, I also envision combining the kids’ visits to the Retreat volunteering them to interact with dogs at the shelter which I can see will benefit kids and dogs alike.
Interviewer: Outside of helping Children and Animals, what other hobbies do you have and enjoy?
Robert Lipman: Once a week ruining my day playing golf with my buddies, and staying in shape by maintaining 448.2 acres in Ellijay and my home in Atlanta. This city slicker has learned to operate 2 tractors and 3 chainsaws in fulfilling these obligations.
Interviewer: Tell us, was it always your dream after retiring from practicing law in Atlanta to find a 2nd residence in the mountains and run an organization like Tri-Mountain? Or did you picture retiring somewhere warm with your feet in the sand relaxing?
Robert Lipman: Frankly, I am just learning how to relax like normal people do. I have always thrived on putting more on my plate than probably I should in whatever I set out to do, but that is my DNA. Boredom has always been my worst enemy and there is no room for that in my life.