What would Bob do?
Non-profit seeks to continue Bob Green’s charitable efforts
Story by Emily Sparacino
The late Bob Green once said, “If I have money for steak and my neighbor is hungry, we’ll both have hamburgers and be full.”
Green, who many people in the Alabaster community knew as the longtime owner of Alabaster Optical and Hearing Aid Service before his death in March 2016, was also a constant supporter of anyone in need of assistance.
“My dad was always about giving,” William Green said. “Every little thing that he did meant as much as the next. If somebody needed help, he helped them.”
But Bob remained quiet about what he did for people, not wanting attention or praise for the acts of kindness that were second nature to him.
“That’s just the way he was,” William said. “He didn’t need people to know he was helping people out.”
Since Bob’s death, William, who operates his father’s business now, has spearheaded efforts to continue Bob’s legacy of selfless generosity by establishing a non-profit organization called What Would Bob Do?
“If Bob would do it, then we’re going to figure out a way to do it,” William said.
“He was an amazing guy.”
William started the paperwork on May 26, Bob’s birthday, and the organization achieved non-profit status in July.
Like Bob’s generosity, the organization’s services are not limited to helping people purchase eyeglasses or hearing aids.
And William said Alabaster Optical will continue to support the businesses and groups his father had supported, including Calera’s Field of Angels, a non-profit baseball league for children and adults with special needs.
In addition, Alabaster Optical has given special cloths for defogging sunglasses to multiple police departments in Shelby County, William said.
The business will also continue to provide food for the Alabaster fire and police departments for Thanksgiving and Christmas, something Bob did anonymously.
“They only found out recently that he was doing that,” William said. “It’s not about Alabaster Optical, it’s not about me, it’s about Bob Green.”
Donations to What Would Bob Do? are tax-deductible.
The needs the organization seeks to meet are immediate needs unable to be fulfilled by other means.
Directors evaluate individual, family and organizational needs through an application process.
Those in need may apply or be nominated by someone else.
Applications for assistance and donation forms are available at Whatwouldbobdo.org.
Donations can also be made online, or by cash or check in person or by mail, to Alabaster Optical & Hearing Aid Service, Attn: What Would Bob Do, 300 1st St. N., Alabaster, AL, 35007.
William said the organization has received a significant number of donations already, but more are always welcome.
In June, the Alabaster City Council voted unanimously to support naming U.S. 31 between Alabama 119 and the Alabaster-Pelham line as the “Bob Green Memorial Parkway.”
The state Legislature will have the final say on renaming the road during its 2017 session.
Not long before Bob died, Alabaster Mayor Marty Handlon surprised him with a key to the city and a proclamation honoring his longtime involvement in the community at a City Council meeting in January.
The attention attached to such honors is what Bob avoided.
William said he thinks Bob would be proud of the non-profit, but he wouldn’t have wanted his name or his face on it.
The intent, though, is to let people know Bob’s kindness lives on in the simple question, “What would Bob do?”
“I’ve spent all this time since his death thinking of ways to honor him and make him proud,” William said. “I hope everything I do for the rest of my life will be something he would be proud of.”