MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Pa. (CBS) – An all-volunteer effort in Montgomery County is making sure kids get their homework done and have fun at the same time. The force behind it is a man named Lenny Robinson.
Robinson is well-known throughout his town of Ambler for his work with kids. In 2017, he was honored with the inaugural Wiss Nation hero award by the Wissahickon School District, but he insists this work truly takes a village.
During the school year, three days a week at Ambler’s borough hall, about 40 young minds tackle math or reading at the WAC Cares Homework Club.
“If you’re stuck on your homework and can’t get it done, a helper can help you and you can just get right past it,” said student Giuliana Schumann.
“We love each and every student that comes here,” said longtime volunteer Dean Dellobuono. “They’re pretty much family.”
Robinson is at the center of the family.
“I would call him the father of Ambler,” Dellobuono said.
“The kids there are my kids, Robinson said. “I claim them, I claim them all.”
To the kids, Robinson is simply Mr. Lenny.
“He helps me a lot and he’s really nice,” said student Valentina Vargas.
The homework club started as an idea in Robinson’s head. He didn’t put it to practice until about three years ago, while running free basketball clinics for the neighborhood kids.
“I would always ask the kids, ‘Did you do your homework?’ Some of them would say no and most the of time, the yes’s were supposed to be no’s,” he said.
As much time as Robinson puts into the program, it’s not his day job. He works at Wissahickon Middle School, not as an educator, but as the custodian.
“I’m just a guy from the neighborhood who cares, it’s not like I went to school for all of this,” Robinson said.
Volunteers say what he lacks in training, he makes up in heart.
“It’s his personality that has you, that brings you in,” said Joyce England-Gordon, a seventh-grade language arts teacher and homework club volunteer. “He has a heart of gold.”
It’s that heart that has attracted a legion of volunteers fueled by the enthusiasm of the children they’re helping.
“You have somebody to listen to you, you have a hug if you need it, there’s smiles all around,” Robinson said.
There are also valuable lessons for everyone involved and a few tears shed by Robinson.
“It’s good stuff. If we can give our kids tools that they can take for a lifetime, that’s immeasurable,” he said. “We’re making a difference in kids’ lives.”
The homework help club is so special the kids are actually sad to see the school year end.