Kenny Robbins has not missed one day of work selling newspapers at the corner of Valley and Rancho since he started there in 1996. Every morning, he’s a steadfast figure for those driving by, quick with a wave and a smile to complete their morning commute.
People think that Kenny became a Colton celebrity of sorts last June when he was featured in an IECN Colton Courier article, but when asked about his relationship with the people of Colton, Kenny smiles and says, “These people have been good to me, very good to me. I was helping out at a Rose parade one year, I think it was 2003, you know, selling programs and things. As I walked around doing my job, I could hear people calling out to me, ‘Hey, aren’t you from Colton?’ and I have to admit, I was surprised, like I was some sort of a celebrity. But Colton people are good to me.”
So, last June it was mentioned that Kenny was homeless at the time, living at Elizabeth Davis Park. Colton people posted an SOS on the Facebook page ‘You know you’re from Colton if…’ and asked Colton-ites to share some money, gift cards and love with the beloved community icon. All of this brought his plight to the attention of the Lighthouse Community Services in Colton, and they stepped forward to do what they do best – work to find Kenny a home.
They enrolled him into their veterans program on June 14, 2019. On September 5, 2019, Mr. Robbins signed a lease for his very own apartment and moved in on Saturday September 14, 2019. It’s a beauty of a one bedroom in a quiet complex that is all his. As he opened the door for the first time and took a tour with several dignitaries who came to congratulate and encourage him, Kenny seemed a little overwhelmed by it all.
When asked what it means to him to have his own place to call home, Kenny answered, “To me, this means I no longer have to sleep with one eye open. It means I can quit worrying if something bad will happen to me, and when it rains, I don’t have to figure out how to keep dry anymore,” he looked around at his new home and smiled, “This is a good thing.”
Representatives from the 5th District Supervisor Josie Gonzalez’s office were present. Communications Specialist Brandon Fahey was filming a documentary about Robbins’ journey from homelessness, and Chief of Staff Dan Flores had come out to offer inspiration and encouragement.
Bessine Richard, Sixth Ward Council Member and Mayor Pro Tempore of the City of San Bernardino, sits on the Interagency Council of Homelessness for San Bernardino County. She was on hand to make sure Mr. Robbins knew to reach out to her and the San Bernardino Mayor’s Office if any need should arise in the future.
“We’re happy to see Mr. Robbins in his new home,” she said, “and we certainly want to make sure that he knows we will do everything in our power to see that he is never without a place to call home in the future. We wanted him to know that we are here for him at all times.”
Lighthouse Social Service Centers had filled the new apartment with furniture from Heroes Warehouse in Fontana, and gift baskets of food and household products. The refrigerator was full, and the cabinets were stocked in a welcome home gesture. Karen Young-Lowe, CEO of Lighthouse praised her staff for all of the hard work they did on behalf of Mr. Robbins.
“I am so fortunate to be working with such a compassionate and giving staff,” she said, “they go the extra mile, especially for our veterans. I am so grateful that we are able to provide this kind of help for our veteran heroes because without them, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy our lives as we know them. This has been a joyful event, and we’re so pleased to have been able to serve Mr. Robbins in this way.”
As for Mr. Robbins, aka Colton’s beloved hometown celebrity Kenny, all of Colton wishes you the best of health and happiness in your new place. We’re thrilled to know you can rest easy each night in the comfort of your own home sweet home!