It’s difficult to find someone in Charlottesville who doesn’t have a story about Bobby Green and his generosity.
A fixture of the community, Green has spent the better part of the last five decades helping others, no matter the cost to himself.
The oldest of 12 children, he grew up in the Keswick area of Albemarle County. Green has worn many hats over his life, all of which relate to giving back to the community.
He spent 30 years as a community service officer with the Charlottesville Police Department, and it was during his time with the department that Green started working at public housing sites and soon started a Boy Scout troop at Westhaven.
“We wanted to do something to help the kids out, give them something to do and keep them out of trouble,” he said. “At one point, I think we had as many as 30 kids in the troop.”
As the troop grew, more and more parents started to get involved and they became friends with each other, Green said. It wasn’t long until the troop would lead to the creation of the Ebony Social Club in 1979.
Though currently on a partial hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic, the club has created a support network in the community over the last 41 years, Green said, providing scholarships to students and hosting meals for those in need, among other things.
The road the club paved hasn’t always been easy and has sometimes been a little crooked, Green wrote in each annual anniversary program, but “through God’s grace and mercy, the bumps were evened out and we were steered in the right direction.”
Since retiring from the police force, Green said he has spent most of his time cooking food at a couple of places in the city. He manages the deli at the Lucky 7 convenience store, where he regularly greets customers from behind the counter.
“I got a little bored at home after retirement and I liked to cook so I started cooking at Brown’s in Belmont,” he said. “Now I’ve been doing it at places for around 10 years.”
Lucky 7 is part of a block that is set to be demolished next year to make way for a parking garage. When that day comes, Green said he may finally retire, though he doubts he’ll stop cooking.
Green’s cooking is “legendary,” according to Dave Norris, a former Charlottesville mayor. Green has cooked meals for homeless people at PACEM, for seniors and for all kinds of neighborhood events, Norris said.
Green’s community work goes far beyond meals, though. Norris said that when young people living in public housing would graduate from high school, Green would make sure their hard work and accomplishment were recognized with a graduation celebration.
“As president of the Ebony Social Club, he always put the interest of his club members above his own, always making sure to honor their accomplishments,” Norris said. “And in his career in law enforcement, Bobby was known for treating people fairly but firmly, building relationships of trust with the neighborhoods he patrolled. He is a good man and has done so much good for so many.”
Charlene Green, former manager of the city’s Office of Human Rights, also spoke of Green’s generosity of spirit and cooking. In addition to cooking the best fried chicken in Charlottesville, she said that she is proud to call him a friend.
When Maurice Jones was ending his career with the city, she said she was touched with how Green and the social club wanted to honor him.
“I hated to see Maurice go, but I was so pleased that someone from the community with Bobby’s stature was able to create that event for him and show a side of the community that was very appreciative of all that he had done for the city of Charlottesville,” she said.
Green’s work also has brought him into frequent contact with motivational speaker and educator Charles Alexander, better known to the community as Alex-Zan.
Green is a blessing, Alexander said, and is one of the most giving people he knows.
“He’s been a giver all his life and he doesn’t know the word no. Even when he may not be feeling well or he may be tired or exhausted, he will still go the extra mile,” Alexander said. “He probably could retire easily if all the people that he has loaned money to repaid him but he would never even think of asking because he’s not that kind of person. He knows the importance of blessing others.”