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Gwen - GJ

Gwen - GJ

Gwen is a woman whose presence is impossible to ignore.

QUICK FACTS

HOMETOWN:

Nashville, TN

DREAM JOB:

Children's Art Therapist

FAVORITE PASTIME:

Teaching Vacation Bible School

WHAT SHE'S READING

The Bible

WHAT SHE'S LISTENING TO:

Journey

FAVORITE SPOT IN NASHVILLE:

Prince's Hot Chicken

FAVORITE PRODUCT TO MAKE:

Athena Necklace

HOMETOWN:

Nashville, TN

DREAM JOB:

Children's Art Therapist

FAVORITE PASTIME:

Teaching Vacation Bible School

WHAT SHE'S READING

The Bible

WHAT SHE'S LISTENING TO:

Journey

FAVORITE SPOT IN NASHVILLE:

Prince's Hot Chicken

FAVORITE PRODUCT TO MAKE:

Athena Necklace

PERSONALITY

“I always try to talk to people about being a survivor, but I found out that I’m more than a survivor; I’m an overcomer. Because not only did I survive different difficulties in my life, but I overcame them. And because I overcame them, I’m able to help other people overcome things, help them to realize that when bad things do happen to us, we can learn from them, we can grow from them. And I have really grown.”

“Every situation in my life, I have to give God glory because He allows me to see from the heartbreak and the ups and downs how to look at it positively, look at all the situations in my life in a positive light. Because today it may not work out, but guess what? Tomorrow’s another day. If you wake up, there’s your opportunity to get it right. I just really feel like I’m a positive person.”

STORY

“My whole life was military, born and raised in it, and I married someone in the military. I was sixteen. [When I was living in South America with my husband in the military], I saw so many kids in the streets selling papers. It was a heartbreak to me because I couldn’t reach out. But when I came back to America, I found out that even though I was single, I could still be a foster parent. I watched siblings. I ended up with ten foster children. I adopted three. When I did foster my children, my daughter was in high school. When she was at school, I took care of the kids. When she got out of school, she took care of them. She watched them while I went to work at nighttime.”

“At the age of 25, I overdosed, and I died. Nobody was home; I was by myself. People say, ‘How do you know you died?’ Because I left my body. I actually saw myself laying there. I couldn’t talk; I was paralyzed, and I just kepting think ‘Jesus, Jesus.’ And I said, ‘Please don’t let me leave my baby.’ God healed me. I had divorced my husband, I came back to Nashville. Low self-esteem. I just wanted to destroy myself. But I didn’t realize until I died how important life really was. And now look at me! I’ve got all these grandkids. And I didn’t think I’d live to see [my own daughter] grow up.”

“I became homeless while I was still working. I worked seven years homeless. I’d get up, I’d sleep in my car, I’d park in people’s yards. I used to go down to the post office and park there, and police would come by and ask me, ‘Are you okay, Ma’am,’ and they would see bruises where I was hiding from him, and they would let me stay there. For awhile it was okay because I could hide it really well. Nobody knew. I was protecting him. I would never tell anybody he was beating me. It was horrible. I went through a lot, but I can help other women avoid it. Don’t be afraid to turn him in. I got to the point where I was suicidal. [A local non-profit] did a warrant thing for me to protect me. He actually came in several times and threatened me, and some employees would keep their eye on me and... had the police escort him off the property.”

“I was a client at [a local non-profit], I didn’t have any money. I was broke. The non-profit started doing the paperwork [for housing]. I eventually attained housing, but I want to own my own home, which would be a condo, a duplex, who knows. I’m not going to limit myself to just renting somebody else’s property.”

“I used to go under the bridge to eat and to get clothing and sleeping bags, and I took well advantage of the benefits that came with [the ministry]. But now I’ve also been a volunteer, so it was full circle in my life. A lot of my friends who I knew from being homeless were like ‘Wow, Gwen! Look at you!’ Full circle.”

AT UNLOCKED

“When I first met Alexis, I was just surviving, just making jewelry and stuff to survive. When Alexis acknowledged it like she did, it was like ‘Wow.’ Unlocked began to show me how important my jewelry was. The sky’s the limit now! Just wow. I’m just so excited. Unlocked is my mission because I’m able to talk to people, I’m able to give them a story behind my jewelry. I’m able to say that I’m doing something that’s worthwhile. I always want to bring beauty into the world, I’m bringing more beauty in the world, and I really appreciate it. Alexis and Corbin have been patient with me, and they have shown me that my worth is more than I thought it was.”

“Since I’ve been coming to Unlocked I’m slowly learning to deal with things.”

FUTURE PLANS

“Eventually I want to get a place to live of my own, a condo, a duplex, or a little house. I know it’s not going to happen overnight, but I know it is going to happen because I’m blessed to where I can make money working with Unlocked. But most of all, my self-esteem is so high; I’m up there! I’m able to pull some more women up there with me. I just won’t take ‘No’ for an answer anymore. I won’t. I’m not going to let anything or any situation or anybody take that from me ever again. I didn’t realize that I was letting God down when I let that man mistreat me. He had work for me to do, and I can’t do it if I’m not healthy myself. It just seems like I have a healthy attitude about life. I’ve always loved God, I’ve always loved people, but it’s much healthier now because I love me now. I didn’t love me at first.”

“My desire has always been to be a child psychologist and do art therapy with children. I’m getting to that point now. Eventually I would love to start my own studio. The only thing that I would need is donations to buy my supplies. I want to be able to show children how to express themselves through art.”

UPDATES

"God is fulfilling all my dreams. He's allowing me to visualize things I had only dreamed before. I'm able to work with children in the church as a service for God. UNLOCKED is part of that vision. He's allowing me to make jewelry, which is a dream of mine. I'm learning how to be self-sufficient. For a long time I had to rely on other people. Now I'm learning to rely on Gwen. I'm growing."

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  • Amy on

    Gwen,
    Your smile, positive attitude, and deep faith are so inspiring. You look like someone who spreads joy wherever they go. Wishing you the best and praying for you.


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