Every staff member and Friday volunteer knows about one of our very special Friday clients, “the Veteran.” Except for a few lucky ones, however, they do not have the opportunity to meet or chat with him when he comes to pick up his groceries. Because he is handicapped, his food is delivered directly to his car each week. Marvin “Happy” Robbins is 75 years old and is a U.S. Army veteran.
Happy (he prefers this to his given name) begins his very interesting life story on a Sharpsburg, North Carolina farm, where he grew up and, as an outstanding pitcher at Elm City High School, was scouted. Happy was signed by the New York Yankees and played for the Yankee farm team (called “semi-pro” at the time) for one season, prior to enlisting and serving in the U.S. Army for two years, 1954 and ‘55. He served for 18 months in the Korean Conflict.
By the time Happy returned home and was honorably discharged from the service, he tried again to play baseball, but after two years away from the game he“couldn’t throw hard enough anymore.” A good friend, Chuck Hinton, facilitated a job interview which led to a 20 year job with the District of Columbia Parks and Rec Department, while concurrently officiating Boys Club and high school baseball, basketball, and football games, for thirty years. His involvement with recreation, sports, and kids meant a long and satisfying career for Happy.
At age 50, he developed diabetes, and in 2001 underwent heart by-pass surgery which resulted in a blood clot in his leg and subsequently an amputation. Happy, true to his name, has a positive and somewhat irreverent attitude about his disability, remarking, “There are plenty of people who are dead with two legs and I’m still going strong with one.”
Happy lives in the Dominion Plaza Apartments and learned about AFAC from a neighbor. He went through the Arlington County DHS required process to obtain a referral to AFAC. He lives on his social security and veteran’s benefits. The food AFAC provides to him is critical; it gets him through the week until the next pick up, saving him from the extra cost and effort of a trip to the grocery store. He especially is grateful for the fresh chicken, milk, and eggs. We are grateful for Marvin “Happy” Robbins – a man who served his country and a generation of DC children well.