LEWISTON — Staff members at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Androscoggin, Franklin & Oxford Counties often step into the office in the morning to find something has changed.

Maybe the toilet has been fixed or a light bulb replaced. During the winter, perhaps the driveway has been shoveled. Sometimes, there are chocolates or encouraging notes waiting.

At the root of almost all of it is Randy Robbins, a retired Auburn Police Department detective who now spends his time volunteering.

At the Children’s Advocacy Center, a crisis center for children who have suffered sexual abuse, Robbins does anything he can to keep spirits lifted. Often it’s manual labor that the limited staff and funding can’t provide.

“He’s just an endlessly giving person, who goes above and beyond anything we need or ask of him,” Kat Perry, the center’s manager, said last week.

Robbins has done all of the lawn care, snow removal and trash removal at the center since it opened at its new location. Robbins played a large role in the $56,000 worth of renovations needed to turn the former hospice home into a kid-friendly center.

According to the organization, its focus is to promote the healing of victims by providing “a strong community response to investigation, treatment and prevention of abuse.”

The center, which is a program of Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Services, moved in at its current space on Lafayette Street in 2016 after extensive renovations. The space was designed to provide a home-like atmosphere where children who have been abused can be interviewed by a specially trained forensic interviewer.

The building was gifted to the organization by St. Mary’s Regional Health System. There’s an interview room and an observational room for local law enforcement and response agencies, and throughout the nonstop stress of each day, Robbins drops off snacks or leaves encouraging notes.

For most of the larger fixes, he pops in when no one else is around.

“He’s like a phantom,” Perry said, laughing. “Most people wouldn’t do that on an ongoing basis, but he does,” she said. “He doesn’t want the recognition. It’s a lifestyle for him. It’s not a one-and-done.”

Last year, the organization gave him its Community Champion for Children award.

Robbins worked most recently as a juvenile detective in Auburn, retiring in 2011 after 25 years.

He said he knew the importance of the organization from working with juveniles. He said it creates a place where children can feel welcome, especially to recount traumatic experiences.

“I could see that, for kids, it’s so hard to do it at the police station,” he said. “But you bring them into this environment and they don’t feel threatened or scared.”

Robbins also volunteers at the Auburn PAL Center, which is run by the Police Department and other volunteers, and for the Dempsey Challenge (he’s a member of Patrick Dempsey’s security detail). On top of that, he also runs the Auburn Tot Lot playground on Route 4 and volunteers at Lost Valley Ski Area.

For the day-to-day operations at the Children’s Advocacy Center, Robbins is the go-to guy. Perry said that when a toilet broke, the center had difficulty nailing down someone to fix it.

“We have no budget for this stuff,” she said.

Robbins bought the supplies and did it himself.

As the winter approached this year, a new railing on the front steps was needed. He took care of it. He also left a new broom to replace one he said “looked like it was from the 1940s.”

From the other room, another staff member recalled seeing the new broom leaning against a door when she arrived at the office.

“I went, ‘Randy was here!’” she said.

Last winter when he was in Florida, he couldn’t be there to help, so he paid a contractor to do the work. Underneath all of the work, he’s also known to leave chocolates or Oreos for the staff.

When asked, Robbins said he continues to volunteer to simply “stay busy” and to address the needs of organizations like the Children’s Advocacy Center that are doing important work.

Perry said the center depends on support from volunteers, which is apparent when you walk past a wall of recognition in the building that shows a long list of supporters.

She said they can always depend on Robbins to be there.

“It really is like Christmas when he shows up,” Perry said. “It might be a small thing, or a big thing, but we always know he’s the person that’s done it for us.”

Know someone with a deep well of unlimited public spirit? Someone who gives of their time to make their community a better place? Then nominate them for Kudos. Send their name and the place where they do their good deeds to reporter Andrew Rice at [email protected] and we’ll do the rest.

Randy Robbins, a retired Auburn police detective, volunteers for a number of local organizations, especially the Children’s Advocacy Center of Androscoggin, Franklin & Oxford Counties. (Sun Journal photo by Andrew Rice) 


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