Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., Gwen Robins made her move to Jackson in August 2000 at age 63. "You know I was born and raised there, and I never was away from home this long," Robins says. She wanted to be closer to her daughter, who lived in Jackson, but the idea of moving so far away from home into a strange southern city was daunting.
Robins says her daughter made frequent calls imploring her to move. "I was hoping she would give up and leave me alone because I had no intention of coming to Mississippi," Robins admits. She would only tell her daughter that she was praying on it.
"At 8 the next morning, my sister called me and she said, 'You know what Gwen, I had a dream about you last night.''' The dream was all about how Robins was preparing to move, even though Robins had told her sister nothing of the dilemma she faced. "Then I said 'Listen Lord, let me get a job, and let me do what I got to do,'" Robins says. Never one to argue with divine inspiration, Robins moved to Jackson.
Upon her arrival. Robins worked several jobs, including one with Willowood Developmental Center and St. Dominick's Hospital before she found her new home away from home at New Horizon Christian Academy in 2001. As head of food service, she works to put together nutritional plans and menus for children, who range in age from six months to 12 years.
Now, Robins says she has truly found her purpose in Jackson. Her spiritually motivated move and discovery of a supportive family at New Horizon Church have made all the difference, both for herself and for some others.
"The pastor was telling me that because I'm an older woman," Robins says, "and because there aren't too many older women at my church, a lot of younger women under me come to me and talk to me. He said, 'You are like a mother to a lot of younger women and you've done a lot of good.' To me, other people can see you better than you see yourself."
Ironically, Robin's daughter returned to Buffalo in 2001. Robins says she has become quite adapted to southern weather, culture and cuisine, but she does sometimes contemplate another move, if only to be closer to her family.
Of course, if she does leave, we will all miss the humor and wisdom of this spry 69-year-old great-grandmother. But don't expect her to make any hasty decisions without some serious divine intervention.